On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers take on an uncommon opponent from the AFC, the San Diego Chargers. John Gennaro of Bolts from the Blue was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the Chargers and provide insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
APC: From the outside, it doesn't appear the Chargers' offensive line can stay healthy. You follow this team closely. Are the injury issues as bad as others perceive them to be?
Yes! They're terrible! It has been a long, long, long time since the San Diego Chargers offensive line has been both talented and healthy for more than a couple of consecutive games. There are theories as to why (my personal favorite is that too much pass-blocking leads to a lot more guys getting rolled up on), but it doesn't appear to be getting any better any time soon.
APC: Antonio Gates returned this past week from a four-game suspension. How does he look after the long layoff, and what kind of weapon is he at age 35?
He looked better than he has in about five years. He looked positively spry and athletic, which....paired with his veteran savvy, makes him absolutely unguardable. The only thing that kept him from having an insane statistical game last week was the coaches going away from him and an apparent limit on his snaps in his first game back.
APC: Through five games, the Chargers have allowed 26.8 points per game and their defense ranks 22nd in DVOA. Is this just a case of small sample size distorting perception, or does San Diego have significant issues on that side of the ball?
They have some significant issues, but it's not all bad. They had some issues stopping the run early on, but have gotten a bit better at it as the season has gone on. The pass rush was mostly nonexistent when the team wasn't facing Matthew Stafford, but it's looked good the last couple of weeks.
It just seems to be rotating issues for the defense. There's also something going on that's a big glaring weakness, and lately that weakness is Brandon Flowers. He's been so bad that most assume him to be injured. He seems incapable of going any faster than "light jog", which has been a problem. He's the reason the Chargers lost to the Vikings, he's the reason the Browns put up a ton of points, and he's why the Steelers were able to come back and win.
APC: The Chargers seem to have no shortage of quality pass catchers this season. Which receivers do you expect Philip Rivers to utilize the most against the Packers and why?
It really depends on what the defense gives him. When this offense is working well, it's because Rivers doesn't focus in on just one person. He trusts Gates as well as Ladarius Green, and Malcom Floyd and Keenan Allen as much as he does Stevie Johnson. You also can't forget about Danny Woodhead out of the backfield. That's six potential targets for Rivers, and he does a pretty good job of finding out which one is most open and throwing to him, which is why his completion percentage is so high.
APC: This past April, San Diego traded up draft running back Melvin Gordon. What are you impressions about him thus far?
He obviously has a ton of talent and is a tremendous athlete, that much is obvious. However, without a stable offensive line to run behind and being a bit behind on his pass protection, Gordon hasn't been able to have much of a positive impact on the field so far. I'm not sure he will any time this year, but if he were in an offense like Green Bay's he'd be putting up some fantastic numbers.
We'd like to thank John and Bolts from the Blue for answering our questions. Be sure to check out our Q&A session over there, as well as their fantastic coverage of all things Chargers. As always, keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company this Sunday for our comprehensive game-day coverage of Chargers vs. Packers.