It’s called “Nap Town” by some, but it’s no time for the Chargers to slumber.
San Diego heads for Indianapolis this weekend with a clear mission: winning on the road.
A piece of cake? Hardly for the homesick Chargers.
They dropped their first game this season on their Kansas City visit and do we really have to rewind that tape? A big lead became a big tight collar and a loss followed.
But that’s been the Chargers’ M.O. of late after stuffing their overhead bin. The Chargers had eight roadies last year and prevailed but once. The last time that happened was 2001 in a 5-11 stinker of a campaign.
Here is where we insert praise for the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars. It was in J’ville where the Chargers got that rare 2015 road win and it was against the Jags in San Diego on Sunday that the Chargers got win No. 1 this year.
Of the Chargers’ three wins in their last 14 games, two come courtesy of the Jaguars.
We checked, but the Chargers favorite team is booked on Sunday, set to roll over against the Baltimore Ravens.
Instead the Chargers have the original Baltimore team in the Colts and we’re not sure if that’s good or bad.
Indy hasn’t been keen. They’ve lost two straight and look to Sunday to goose its stalled engine. And the Colts, under coach Chuck Pagano, are 17-7 following a loss.
The Chargers are asked to slow Andrew Luck and the way their secondary has played of late (three interceptions), they just might.
But the reason the Chargers showed a pulse on Sunday, and will do so moving forward, is Melvin Gordon. Quickly, he’s resurrected a running game that was pedestrian at best.
Gordon has three touchdowns, which is plus-three over last year. He’s had a 100-yard rushing game, which is one more than in ‘15. He’s cutting and breaking and running through tackles as if he was back at Wisconsin.
Bratwurst for everybody but will it continue? Philip Rivers has the answer.
“He’s starting to see it,’’ Rivers said. “He’s running confident.’’
Which takes the pressure off Rivers as he leans on the offensive component that is on the down low.
The Chargers have rushed for 150 yards in consecutive games. Make it three straight on Sunday and that’s a trick not turned since 2006.
Being good on the ground helps Rivers through the air. It’s no accident he leads the AFC with a passing rating of 100.4.
Rivers has always been good but now he’s reaching the waning years of his career. Sadly, he has a handful of years left in his stellar career. That career, though, gets extended with a running game that shows some giddy-up.
Gordon can lead the ground crew but he’s lost a running mate.
Danny Woodhead is gone and he ain’t coming back. A wrecked knee ends his season, which means Gordon has to keep his legs.
“This is the Melvin Gordon that we all know he is,” said coach Mike McCoy.
McCoy is right, but he’s not referring to the 2015 Gordon. That version was tentative hitting the rare holes behind a wounded offensive line.
Gordon gets to prove it on Sunday. The town known for speed could be a perfect place for “Flash.”
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his book “Game of My Life San Diego Chargers.”
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports