A breakthrough for Chargers’ run game?

Melvin Gordon stretch for some yardage against the Denver Broncos during the San Diego Chargers' 21-13 win at Qualcomm Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016. Photo by Tiffany Zablosky/News4usonline.com

You knew eventually it was going to happen. It was just a matter of when and where. The description of the Los Angeles Chargers the past couple of seasons, including this one, has been summed up in 11 words. Too good. Too much talent. Too many bad breaks. This might be as good of a time to break up that narrative.

The Chargers’ first win of the 2017 NFL season was going to come sooner or later. It came a little later than expected, five games into the season to be exact. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn and his team will take a win anyway they can get them these days. Most assuredly, Lynn and the Chargers embraced their 27-22 win against the New York Giants on Sunday without hesitation.

Melvin Gordon is the Chargers first round draft pick. Photo by Jevone Moore/News4usonline.com

The Chargers finally got that hump off of their backs, and now they can get down to business and put together a streak of victories, starting this week against the Oakland Raiders. But the biggest winner of the Chargers-Giants game may have been running back Melvin Gordon and the offensive line.

Through the the first four games of the season, the Chargers rushing attack was stuck in slow motion, with not a single runner going over the century mark. Those close defeats to the Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos, may have been averted if Gordon or the team’s other runners managed to get untracked in the right direction.

As a team, the Chargers rank 29th out of 32 teams in the NFL in running the football, averaging just 78.8 yards rushing per game. On the flip side, quarterback Philip Rivers and the Chargers passing attack have been humming along, ranking sixth in the league in that category. The formula for sustained success in the NFL is predicated on the notion of having a decent running game.

San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) making his way through a maze of Jacksonville Jaguars defenders in the Chargers’ 38-14 win at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. Photo by Tiffany Zablosky/News4usonline

Up until playing the Giants, Gordon and the Chargers have fumbled in this area. Gordon finally got things cracking on Sunday, rushing for a season-high 105 yards on 20 carries. His big rushing day complimented Rivers’ 258 yards and three touchdowns showcase on the road. Two of the three touchdowns that Rivers completed went Gordon, who picked up 58 yards receiving as well.

The tailspin of enduring nine straight losses in the past two seasons before breakthrough against the Giants may be the antidote the Chargers need to keep the winning vibe going. It’s going to take more well-balanced performances by Gordon and his teammates to make that happen.

It was a big day for Gordon in more ways than one. When he broke the 100-yard marker this season, it was the first time Gordon had done so since Nov.6, 2016, when he rushed for 196 yards. He got the Chargers on the scoreboard against the Giants with a six-yard grab for a score from Rivers. Gordon then closed the game with his 10-yard game-winning reception.

For his efforts, Gordon was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week. A couple more of games like this from Gordon and the Chargers will be back in the business of striking fear in opposing defenses.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1133 Articles
Dennis covers the NFL (Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a proud alum of Howard University.

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