Packers' next opponent: Banged-up, struggling Chargers still dangerous
The Green Bay Packers will travel to the West Coast for the first time in 2019 as they head to Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles to take on the Chargers (3-5).
Basics on the Chargers
The struggling Chargers snapped a three-game losing streak thanks to a missed Chicago Bears field goal at the buzzer to win 17-16 at Soldier Field. The Chargers managed only 231 yards of offense and allowed 388 to the Bears – the first time the Bears topped 300 yards all season.
Head coach Anthony Lynn is a respected offensive mind and his views didn't always mesh with longtime play-caller Ken Whisenhunt, who was relieved of his offensive coordinator duties Monday. The Chargers run a variation of the Ron Erhardt-Ray Perkins offensive system that focuses on getting plays out quickly while utilizing a short passing game off a run emphasis.
The defense is a base 4-3 and it’s run by defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who oversaw the emergence of Seattle’s strong defenses in 2011-12. Under Bradley the Chargers have had a top-5 defense the last two years and like to bring pressure.
Melvin Gordon’s average per rush attempt.
League rank of the Chargers’ passing offense.
Sacks by defensive end Joey Bosa.
League rank of the defense.
Players on injured reserve.
Players to watch
Joey Bosa, DE
The 24-year-old defensive end was the No. 3 overall pick in 2016 and produced back-to-back double-digit sack seasons in 2016-17 before injuries cut short his 2018 campaign (5.5 sacks). Having already played one more game than a year ago, Bosa has seven sacks and 10 tackles for loss.
Melvin Gordon, RB
After holding out for a new contract (or trade) through training camp and the first four games of the season, the Wisconsin alumnus has yet to find a rhythm in the offense. In his four games thus far, he has rushed 44 times for 112 yards and one touchdown. He also fumbled on the goal line in a loss against Tennessee that could have won the game for the Chargers. He has caught 11 passes but for only 37 yards.
Melvin Ingram, DE
The 30-year-old, two-time pro Bowl defensive end returned to action last week against the Bears after missing three games. Ingram has 43 career sacks and two double-digit sack seasons (2015, 2017) and can create havoc opposite Joey Bosa, but he has been limited to the one sack he collected in the season opener. He hasn’t hit the quarterback since, either.
Reasons to worry
The Chargers were a legitimate Super Bowl contender just one year ago and they still have enough healthy talent to cause issues for an opponent. The offense has dipped to No. 24 in scoring and No. 17 overall, but 38-year-old quarterback Philip Rivers is directing the league’s No. 6 passing offense. The Chargers have been able to use running back Austin Ekeler in the passing game along with their big receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. While Gordon hasn’t gotten on track yet – and that’s one reason why the offense has sputtered – the Packers’ rush defense is still suspect and it’s possible this is the game Gordon and Ekeler get right on the ground.
Defensively, the Chargers can get after the quarterback and the Kansas City Chiefs laid out a game plan to show how to get to Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers doesn’t throw too many interceptions but the Chargers do have seven picks, so their defensive backs are around the ball.
Reasons to relax
This will be a warm-weather home game for the Packers, as the Chargers have no fans in their new city and are playing in a 27,000-seat soccer stadium. Visiting teams have made “home field” a joke and one can argue Packers fans travel better than most in the league.
The Chargers are also really, really banged up and they lack some of the matchup issues that have given the Packers’ defense problems to date (i.e. athletic tight ends and overly speedy catch-and-run threats). Rivers is a dink-and-dunk quarterback at this point and they only have three scoring plays longer than 20 yards, and two came from Ekeler running away from the defense.