We went behind enemy lines to get you the best, most accurate information about the Jaguars week 10 opponent, the Los Angeles Chargers. Here's seven things you need to know about the Chargers before the Jaguars take them on this Sunday. The Chargers are 3-5 and have won three of their last four contests. They're coming off a week nine bye.
1. GUS BRADLEY IS THEIR DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR!!!
Yes, Gus Bradley is retuning to town. The same man who coached the Jaguars to a 14-48 record is coming back to Duval. In Bradley's first stint as a defensive coordinator after being fired by the Jaguars, he has been gifted two of the best pass rushers in the game right now. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa are tied for sixth in the NFL in sacks - they've both taken down opposing QBs 8.5 times already in 2017. While the Chargers have been a strong defense, for the most part, in 2017 they have shown some typical Gus Bradley things. You'll see linebackers in coverage against wide receivers and running backs - the Jaguars should look to take advantage of that early on in the game.
2. Getting back to the Chargers pass rush
That pass rush is something fierce. Bosa, a 2016 top five pick, quickly proved that he was worth the high draft selection. He's already proven to be one of the best defensive lineman in the game and can wreck shop against offenses. His running mate Melvin Ingram has been one of the best twitchy/powerful edge rushers in football for the last three years. Watch for the Chargers to line these two up next to each other in clear passing situations - a scary matchup for any offensive line. The Chargers also have a couple of nice role players that can contribute sacks. Chris McCain and Darius Philon have combined for 8 sacks already in 2017. It wouldn't be surprising to see a lot of chipping by tight ends in this one, in an attempt to slow down the Chargers pass rush. The Jaguars are well equipped to handle explosive pass rushes, but this may be their biggest test yet.
3. I'm not buying the Chargers pass defense
The Chargers obviously have a great pass rush, but I don't believe their secondary and linebackers can compete against the Jaguars offense. Often times linebackers and even edge rushers end up covering wide receivers and running backs in Gus Bradley's defensive scheme. If Marqise Lee, Allen Hurns, and Keelan Cole are able to get matched up with linebackers it should result in a nice play for the Jags. Speaking of the Chargers linebackers - their middle linebacker and leading tackler, Hays Pullard, was cut by the Jaguars just prior to the start of the 2017 regular season. They're also getting their most well known, and likely their best, linebacker Denzel Perryman back this week. Perryman and Pullard are both strong against the run, but neither is an elite coverage linebacker - again the Jaguars need to take advantage. In the secondary the Chargers are without their best CB Jason Verrett, who was lost for the season in September. Without Verrett the Chargers secondary lacks star power and, in my mind, won't be able to compete constantly with the Jaguars newly successful passing attack.
4. The Jaguars appear well equipped to take down the Chargers, but the Jags have been Philp Rivers' whipping boy in years past
Since Philip Rivers was drafted by the Chargers, the Jaguars have been abysmal against the Bolts. Overall Phillip Rivers is 6-1 against the Jaguars and has won six straight by an average score of 34-14. Yikes! The two teams have played in each of the last five seasons. The Jaguars will look to get their first win over the Chargers since Philip Rivers' rookie season - 2004.
5. Philip Rivers and the passing attack are still as dangerous as the come
Rivers is playing well in 2017. Over the past five games Rivers has 9 TDs and 2 INTs. On the season he has 13 TDs and 6 INTs. His completion percentage is down in 2017, but the explosive plays are still there. Rivers has a plethora of targets. At WR they have Keenan Allen, who is one of the most consistent receivers in the game, Travis Benjamin, one of the fastest players in football, Tyrell Williams, a big bodied playmaker, and Mike Williams, a 2017 first round pick that was out with an injury until mid October. They've also got tight ends Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates. These Chargers will also look to get the ball to their backs out of the backfield. The Jaguars have the best secondary in football, but need to be careful not to have a let down this week.
6. The Chargers rushing offense is . . . inconsistent
The Chargers average less than 90 yards per game on the ground. Their starting running back Melvin Gordon is averaging exactly 4 yards per carry in 2017. He's had a couple of big games while the rest of them have been stinkers. If you takeaway his monster performance against the Patriots, who have one of the worst run defenses in football, Gordon has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on the season. It's not all Gordon's fault - the offensive line has been depleted with injuries and wasn't the strongest run blocking line in football to begin with.
7. The Jaguars should be able to pound the rock
The Chargers run defense has been better against the run as of late, but on the season they're allowing the second most yards per game on the ground. The Jaguars are the number one rushing offense in football facing the second worst run defense - you do the math. Some will certainly argue that the Chargers run defense has been better lately, and it has - against the lowly Broncos, the then rutterless Raiders, the Patriots (who don't want to run the ball), and the Giants (maybe the worst team in football). The Jaguars are going to give it to the Chargers interior defensive line.
BONUS THING: The Chargers have allowed only 11 sacks on offense this year. While Russell Okung has been solid in pass protection, their low sack number is mostly due to Philip Rivers being able to get rid of the ball quickly. The Jaguars pass rush should be able to get home against the highly immobile Philip Rivers.
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