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Week 14 Game Recap: Los Angeles Chargers 45, Jacksonville Jaguars 10


What you need to know

Los Angeles Chargers

The 1-2 punch of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler was on full display in this one. The running back duo has somewhat taken turns in impressing so far this season, but on this day at least, everything went according to plan. The twosome combined for 297 yards from scrimmage on just 29 touches, adding two scores for good measure. The Jaguars were simply powerless to stop either of them, especially Ekeler (who went over 200 yards himself on just 12 touches).

The early reports of Philip Rivers' demise were greatly exaggerated. Or at least somewhat premature. On the day he turned 38 years old, he turned back the clock and had his finest performance of the season by far. He found the end zone three times, didn't turn it over once, and was extremely efficient. Perhaps not coincidentally, he was only sacked once by the Jacksonville defense.

Keenan Allen saw some early work and still led the team in targets, but he hasn't nearly been the target monster that we've seen in recent seasons. He had a long 45-yard reception with a lot of yards after the catch early on, but for the most part there wasn't a concerted effort to get him the football since everything else was working so well.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars historically bad season continued on Sunday, as they got boatraced by the Los Angeles Chargers. Garnder Minshew and the pass offense was very conservative, with very few downfield targets even while playing from a huge deficit. Leonard Fournette went over 1000 yards on the season and is playing extremely hard. He continues to be productive until the game-script essentially cuts out his production.

Los Angeles Chargers

QB Philip Rivers, 43 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 22 - 314 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 0 - 0
Based on the storylines in recent weeks, it wasn't that shocking that Philip Rivers was removed from the game and replaced by Tyrod Taylor. But most people didn't expect it to happen due to Rivers playing so well that he had helped build an insurmountable lead. After a very uneven season to-date, Rivers had his best performance of the year in Jacksonville. He was extremely efficient, completing over 70% of his passes for over 14 yards per attempt. Unlike in recent weeks, he was rarely under heavy duress. And on the few occasions he was, he managed to make the right read and decision every single time. His afternoon could have gone even better if his receivers had helped him out a bit more. Hunter Henry couldn't bring in a tough diving sideline attempt that would have gone for big yardage, and later outright dropped a pass that would have gone for at least 25 yards. And youngster Jalen Guyton was unable to bring in a deep bomb down the seam that was perfectly thrown and hit him right in the hands. That said, there were plenty of players who DID make plays for Rivers. Keenan Allen shook loose for 45 yards up the right side early on, and the aforementioned Henry got wide open for a long 30-yard touchdown late in the first half. And actually, the Henry drop along the sideline was effectively canceled out on the next play. Rivers read the blitz, and quickly dropped it off to Austin Ekeler in the flat. Ekeler shot through the middle of the defense aided by a caravan of blockers to spring him, en route to an 84-yard touchdown where he simply outran everyone. Rivers' afternoon was capped with a 44-yard bomb to Mike Williams down the seam. There was single coverage on the play and was well-defended, but Williams made an incredible individual effort to get his hands on the football and hang on despite the defender also simultaneously possessing the ball. Simultaneous possession goes to the receiver, and Rivers' day was complete. He was removed from the game early in the fourth quarter with the Chargers up 38-10.

QB Tyrod Taylor, 20 offensive snaps, Pass: 3 - 5 - 26 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 10 - 0
Taylor entered the game at the start of the fourth quarter. On his second play from scrimmage, he showed the primary difference between he and Rivers. He took a run/pass option up the left side, got to the edge, and slid down without defenders tackling him en route to picking up 9 yards on the play. Taylor engineered a drive that took the Chargers down for their final score of the game when he lofted a pass to a wide open Virgil Green in the corner of the end zone off the play fake.

RB Melvin Gordon, 29 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 55 - 1, Rec: 5 - 29 - 0 (5 targets)
Although overshadowed by the electric afternoon turned in by Austin Ekeler, Gordon was very effective in his own right. He averaged a healthy 4.6 yards per carry, was heavily featured in the passing game (tying for the team lead with 5 receptions), and found the end zone early on to reward his fantasy owners. Following a penalty, Gordon went in up the left side untouched for the easy score from a yard out. He consistently found extra running room throughout the game, and looked very strong and ran smooth while picking up chunks of yardage. Late in the half, he took a swing pass in the flat for 19 yards and got down to the 4-yard line. He received a handoff on the next play, getting stuffed by the defense. He did make a nice effort to spin out of the tackle and tried twisting and lunging backwards to get the ball over the goal line, but it was ruled just short. Derek Watt then converted his first career touchdown to vulture the scoring chance from Gordon. With such a big lead, Gordon's workload and key plays were minimal after halftime, as the Chargers brought in the second-teamers to finish this one out.

RB Austin Ekeler, 31 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 101 - 0, Rec: 4 - 112 - 1 (5 targets)
Even on a day that Philip Rivers was wildly effective and dominated in every way possible, it was clear that Ekeler was the offensive star of the game for the Chargers. He went over 200 yards from scrimmage (doing so with only 11 total touches, tying him for the third-fewest touches all-time for a player going over 200 yards). And then for good measure, he took his last touch of the game for a 13-yard screen pass up the right side. Right from the outset, it was clear that Ekeler was in line for a huge day. On the Chargers' first play from scrimmage, a Hunter Henry block sprung Ekeler up the right side for a 27-yard gain. Later in the half, a big burst up the middle resulted in a 23-yard gain. He hit the hole with speed, then cut back a second time for an extra ten yards after hitting the second level of the defense. He capped his first half play with an incredibly strong run up the left sideline for a 35-yard gain. He simply dominated the would-be tacklers who were trying to drag him down, instead shaking them off like nothing. There was an additional 15 yards tacked onto that one due to a facemask penalty as well. Finally, Ekeler put the exclamation point on his day with probably the best play of his career. With the blitz getting in Rivers' face quickly, he found Ekeler in the flat with a wall of blockers in front of him. Ekeler perfectly read which hole to hit, and shot up like a cannon through the middle of the field en route to an 84-yard scamper while out-running multiple defenders into the end zone.

RB Justin Jackson, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 25 - 0
The early-season fantasy sleeper entered the game with just 20 total carries in what has been an injury-riddled season so far. With Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon dominating the early workload, Jackson's role was reduced to mop-up duty. But he had three nice runs, including a 14-yarder up the left side on his first attempt of the game.

RB Derek Watt, 17 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 4 - 1
Watt came in midway through the second quarter to get a goal line opportunity. After Melvin Gordon's reception and run put the ball at the doorstep of the end zone, Watt punched one in and converted from a yard out for his first career touchdown (aided by TE Virgil Green giving a big push from the back side).

WR Keenan Allen, 42 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 83 - 0 (6 targets)
Allen did his primary work on his first reception, shaking loose on a crossing route for a big 45-yard catch-and-run up the right sideline. Allen later drew a penalty in the end zone to give the Chargers the ball at the goal line, so at least he was being targeted on potential scoring plays. Late in the half, Allen showed excellent awareness and field vision and a seemingly innocent play. He caught a short pass with a defender coming up behind him. Rather than spinning outside or directly into the tackle, the knew enough to circulate his route to gain space and vision so that he could then turn upfield for the first down. It was subtle, but it was such a heady play. In the second half, he made a tough catch to register a first down on a ball thrown behind him. But he was largely quiet the rest of the way as the Jaguars tried to play catch-up and the Chargers mostly grinded it out with such a big lead.

WR Mike Williams, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 63 - 1 (3 targets)
Williams was extremely quiet for most of the game, with his first catch coming with less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter (it did go for a first down). But as has been typical for him, he got open for a deep ball that salvaged his fantasy afternoon. Rivers connected with Williams on a 44-yard bomb down the seam. There was excellent coverage by the defender on the play, but a little better effort by Williams to get his hands on the ball and eventually corral it for the score. There was actually simultaneous possession on the play, which by rule goes to the offensive player. Amazingly after being one of the league's best scorers a year ago, this was the first touchdown of the season for Williams.

TE Hunter Henry, 38 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 39 - 1 (4 targets)
Henry's stat line was salvaged by the touchdown, but for the second consecutive game he seemed to disappear for long stretches of time. His afternoon started with a floater down the sideline. He nearly made a circus catch with the diving attempt, but the ball popped loose as he hit the ground. Later in the half, he scored that aforementioned touchdown when a busted coverage by Jacksonville let him leak wide open down the field. He scampered up the field and then barreled into the end zone at the end for the score. Early in the second half, Henry had a chance for a big play with the Chargers at their own 16-yard line. It would have been at least a 25-30 yard reception and perhaps much more if Henry could have shaken the one tackler who was nearby. But he unfortunately let it just slip right through his fingertips. It appeared he took his eyes off it just for a moment. Late in the game, Virgil Green was the recipient of a scoring pass from Tyrod Taylor. Henry presumably would have still been in the game if the score had been a bit closer.

TE Virgil Green, 24 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 14 - 1 (1 targets)
Green isn't a featured part of the offense, focusing most of his talents on blocking. He did a nice job of that, particularly on an early Austin Ekeler run and later on giving a little extra push for the Derek Watt score. But with the Chargers up big late, Green got a piece of the receiving pie when he broke into the corner of the end zone untouched for a wide open 14-yard score from Tyrod Taylor.


Jacksonville Jaguars

QB Gardner Minshew, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 37 - 162 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 31 - 0
Minshew was difficult to evaluate in this game. Was all the underneath passing by design, or was he unwilling to really test the Chargers intermediate or deep? Was offensive coordinator John DeFilipo spooked by the Chargers pass rush or was Minshew? He passed up a potential throw to a wide-open DJ Chark on a corner route to check the ball down to Leonard Fournette. His mobility is an asset. With so many quick/3-step concepts, he knows to bail and improvise is the original concept isn’t open as opposed to just holding the ball and taking a sack. His improvisation led mostly to scrambles/rushes however, instead of moving and trying to find an open man. He did keep his eyes downfield after shrugging off a sack on his touchdown pass to Nick O’Leary late in the 3rdquarter.

RB Leonard Fournette, 51 offensive snaps, Rush: 15 - 50 - 0, Rec: 3 - 13 - 0 (6 targets)
Fournette is going to continue being as productive as the game script allows him to be. He received 7 carries and 1 target (dropped) on the first drive alone as he helped carry the offense into field goal range. Throughout the first half, the Jaguar offensive line was actually doing a good job getting movement on the Chargers front 7 early in the game, but a run-heavy game script was obviously not sustainable once the Chargers started blowing them out. He did get some run as a receiver in the first half, but was oddly not targeted often in the second half while the team was getting blown out.

WR D.J. Chark, 58 offensive snaps, Rec: 9 - 75 - 0 (10 targets)
He made a fantastic contested back-shoulder fade catch on 3rd and 5 on the first drive to put the Jaguars in field goal range. In the two minute drill to end the first half, he dropped a contested intermediate Stop route a the sticks on 3rd and 11. It would have been a difficult grab, but the throw was on-target (slightly late) and one that an elite receiver needs to make to keep his team in the game. Late in the game, Chark rolled his ankle badly and was seen in a walking boot after the game. The team has signaled it could be a multi-week injury, effectively putting the rest of his season in doubt.

WR Dede Westbrook, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 25 - 0 (7 targets)
Even with a gameplan that seemed to focus almost exclusively on passing underneath, Westbrook did nothing of note. His first target/touch did not come until the opening drive of the second half – a quick pass to the flats off of play-action. He sporadically got the ball underneath, but was not able to do anything after the catch and was tackled immediately (as evidenced by his 6 catches for 25 yards).

WR Chris Conley, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (3 targets)
He dropped an easy 3rd and 1 conversion on the second drive that the Jaguars desperately needed. He received a target off a Minshew improvisation play on 4th and 6. While he did not come down with the catch, he did draw pass interference to extend the drive. He was not really targeted again, recording just 1 catch on a day that Minshew dropped back 40 times.

TE Nick OLeary, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 30 - 1 (5 targets)
While O’Leary isn’t a featured part of the offense by any means, he got some nice garbage time production over the course of the game. He was the recipient of Minshew’s lone touchdown pass of the game, coming wide open in the corner of the endzone after Minshew was able to shrug off a sack.