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Chargers-Jaguars: What we learned

The SportsXchange

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- For the second straight week, the San Diego Chargers and the NFL's fifth-ranked offense made a statement with their defense.

Dominating the time of possession by 17 minutes and holding Jacksonville to just two field goals Sunday, the Chargers won back-to-back games for the first time this season when they became the latest team to whip the still-winless Jaguars 24-6.

San Diego (4-3), which sacked Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne six times, also limited Jacksonville to a season-low two offensive possessions in the first half and held the Jags to just 78 yards rushing. The Chargers have not allowed a touchdown now in two consecutive outings after holding the Indianapolis Colts to just nine points on three field goals in a 19-9 win a week ago.

Those are pleasing numbers to Chargers coach Mike McCoy, who has seen a total transformation by his defense the last two weeks after it gave up an average of 22 points in the first five games.

"This is 10 quarters now without a TD given up by the D," said McCoy, referring to San Diego's 27-17 loss to Oakland three weeks ago when it held the Raiders out of the end zone in the second half. "They're getting better every day."

The Jags, meanwhile, are now off to a franchise-worst 0-7 start and have lost all of their games by double-digits. They remained one of three winless franchises in the NFL along with the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Bucs.

The Chargers' defense also recorded an interception late in the fourth quarter by Marcus Gilchrist. San Diego was led Sunday by three players (Eric Weddle, Larry English and Andrew Gachkar) with five tackles each, while linebacker Thomas Keiser notched two sacks.

It also didn't hurt that Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was nearly perfect from the pocket.

Rivers, whose wife is due to go into labor with the couple's seventh child any day now, shook off the distraction and was 22-of-26 passing for 285 yards and one touchdown. The 10th-year pro started the game 14-for-14 through the air for 137 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown pass to Eddie Royal. Rivers didn't throw his first incompletion until there was 53 seconds left before halftime.

"He's really buying into (the new) system," McCoy said of Rivers, who became the fifth-fastest quarterback in NFL history to reach 30,000 career passing yards on Sunday.

Henne, filling in for injured starter Blaine Gabbert for the second consecutive week, finished 23-for-36 passing for 318 yards and a pick, and he was unable to get star receiver Justin Blackmon involved. Blackmon was held to 58 yards on six catches after recording 19 receptions for 326 yards the last two weeks -- the best numbers of any NFL wideout during that span.

"That one really hurts because that's not who we are. I just did a bad job of getting our team ready," Jaguars first-year coach Gus Bradley said. "This one's my fault. Blame me. To the fan base, if they said, 'That didn't feel good,' they're right."

What the Chargers aid

"I think we are getting better. Week in, week out, we are improving. We have a long way to go. It's a long season. It's good to get to go out on a bye this week (following a win). I think the guys deserve a break." -- Chargers coach Mike McCoy on the needed off week the Chargers will have following Sunday's win at Jacksonville, which was the first of two East Coast opponents they will have to travel a long distance to face in the next three weeks.

What the Jaguars said

"I don't know if we felt pressure (to get our first win), but we had to cash in. We only had two possessions the first half. We moved the ball all game, but we have to put points on the board, and I take blame for that because I should have had 12 points on the board (Sunday). The two slants I should have had are routine plays I've made a hundred times in my career and caught three thousand times. That's my fault. It's on me." -- Jaguars leading wideout Cecil Shorts III, who played with a shoulder injury Sunday loss but still managed eight catches for 80 yards -- although he lamented two drops that could've easily been scores on a day when Jacksonville was held out of the end zone.

What we learned about the Chargers

1. San Diego's defense is deep and talented. For the second straight game, the Chargers' defense has held the opposition without a touchdown. And while that stat alone is impressive, the number of players combining in that two-game shutout is what stands out. Three players tallied a team-high five tackles Sunday -- Eric Weddle, Larry English and Andrew Gachkar -- while six players had four total stops and the team spread out six sacks on the Jags' Chad Henne across four different players with linebacker Thomas Keiser leading the way with two.

2. The Chargers are starting to travel well. San Diego is just 16-25 since 2000 when making the long trek from the West Coast to the East Coast, but this season they are 2-0 in their first two games on the other side of the country. The Chargers beat the Eagles 33-30 in Week 2 during their first visit, then routed the Jaguars on Sunday. The Chargers' next East Coast game will be Nov. 3 at Washington after their bye week this week, and the team will close out its coast-to-coast swing Nov. 17 at Miami.

What we learned about the Jaguars

1. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew, the NFL's 2011 rushing champ who used to be one of the most feared RBs in the NFL, may be regressing worse than the Jaguars' offense. Jones-Drew rushed for just 37 yards on nine carries Sunday in the 24-6 loss to the Chargers, and the same explosive first step that helped him win the league's 2011 rushing title is clearly gone. Granted, Jones-Drew is returning from a foot injury that kept him out of most of last season, but there hasn't been a single glimpse of the old MJD even once this year through seven games. He also continued his streak Sunday of failing to break the 100-yard mark -- a span of 10 games dating back to last season. Jones-Drew, who is averaging just 2.9 yards a carry this year, still hasn't topped 71 yards in any of the Jags' first seven games and was unable to take advantage of San Diego's 29th-ranked rushing defense in the loss.

2. London could be unkind to the Jags. The NFL's overseas initiative -- playing two games, or possibly more, in London each season -- will reach fruition next Sunday in what's probably going to be a lopsided matchup when the Jaguars travel across the pond for the first time in franchise history to take on the San Francisco 49ers, who have won four in a row after starting the season 1-2.

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