Yes San Diego, there is a Santa Claus! And he brought you one of the most underrated halfbacks from this past season's NFL draft. Branden Oliver has proved a great get... nay, a steal for the Chargers!
I suppose first Santa placed BO under some random tree in Indianapolis but the Colts were not good little boys and girls so Santa repacked Oliver and dropped him off in Southern California. While some Charger fans predicted an immediate and passionate love for the tailback would materialize those prognosticators did not seem to think it would last.
When Oliver shredded Dallas in his first preseason game our friends at Bolts from the Blue said it was a nice story with no deeper meaning. After all Dallas had a pathetic defense and BO was facing off against the third string of that terrible defense.
Basically the San Diego experts told us this was Oliver's hello and goodbye moment.
Bolts & Dolts: San Diego Chargers top Dallas Cowboys to kick off preseason - Bolts From The Blue
That being said, Branden Oliver has a good game. I am willing to bet it will be his best game of the year. Possibly of his career.
BFTB is a great site, I'm not trying to lean into them for making what was at the time a logical assumption. A UDFA running back seldom has an impressive NFL career. But BFTB did not know BO like the folks at Bull Run know him. Oliver has a way of wearing defenses down. Even his bad runs seem to take a toll and eventually lead to that break out carry.
So we are not all surprised that his career "high water mark" set in the Dallas game lasted only two months. What Oliver has accomplished so far this season far eclipses his preseason work.
After just making the team in August Oliver has stood by while Injuries have plagued the Chargers backfield. As a result BO has moved from barely making the team, to second string, and finally to feature back midway through the second quarter of yesterday's game against the Jets.
When life gives you a chance on the big stage you have to shine and boy did Oliver ever shine brightly. And unlike a preseason game against a hapless third sting BO did his work against one of the NFL's more respectable run defenses.
We came in with the mentality to run the ball, even though they had the No. 1 defense. So whenever you get the opportunity to run the ball, the offensive line was hungry, and we just had to do what we had to do. - Branden Oliver
Oliver came out and rushed for 114 yards on 19 carries, including a 15-yard burst through the middle of the Jets’ defense for a score and a 52 yard scamper in which he made several of the New York defenders swipe at nothing but air.
BO also totaled four receptions for 68 yards, including a 50-yard reception and a 9-yard catch for a score. He probably would have been returning kicks, had the Jets managed to score at all.
Chargers-Jets final score: San Diego Chargers dominate New York Jets 31-0 - Bolts From The Blue
Branden Oliver was simply excellent after Donald Brown exited due to injury. He exited the game with 182 yards from scrimmage. To put his day in perspective, I offer this statistic: Oliver finished 12 yards shy of team leader Donald Brown's season total rushing yards. That's unreal. Also, I have to remind you to stop comparing Oliver to Darren Sproles. He's significantly more physical and nowhere near as quick.
Oliver is still not the Chargers' starter, and may never be once everyone is healthy. Wherever he ends up on the depth chart when everyone is healed up is not the bigger picture right now. The bigger picture is that BO has a chance to show every other NFL team that San Diego might be hiding a guy worth bringing onto their roster.