I can almost copy and paste the beginnings of these articles from week to week now. “The Chargers kept the game close. Played extremely well between the 20s. Couldn’t get it done in the redzone, and failed to win the game late.”
Week 11 went much the same for the Los Angeles Chargers’ “home” game in Mexico City. The Chargers now head to the bye week to take a much needed break before they come back for the final 5 games of the season and an outside shot at making the playoffs.
So, lets dive into the numbers from the game.
The “starting” 5 on the offensive line played the full collection of snaps last night. Trent Scott and Trey Pipkins had rough nights again. It’s not necessarily a knock on Pipkins to say that though. When you think about it, Pipkins, a rookie who is a developmental project from a D2 school, being asked to lock down Frank Clark (who has 40 career sacks in 41 career starts) was asking for trouble. Scott on the other hand just can’t pass protect very well, and this is made worse by the fact that Philip Rivers is losing his once excellent pocket presence and internal timing.
At WR Mike Williams and Keenan Allen both played right around 90% of the snaps. Mike Williams made 1 great circus catch and dropped another on his way to securing 2 of his 5 targets. Keenan Allen tied for the team lead with 12 targets, hauling in 8 of them for 71 yards and a TD. It was good to see him heavily featured again and I’m sure he was glad to see passes coming his way again. Meanwhile, Andre Patton played a healthy chunk of snaps again this week, with 1 target, but again put in work as a blocker. Jason Moore saw double digit snaps for the 1st time this season but also only had 1 target and no catches.
Hunter Henry played 76% of the snaps on offense and racked up a stat line that would make Rob Gronkowski giggle, catching 6 of his 9 targets for 69 yards. Virgil Green meanwhile played 30% of the snaps and had a single catch on his sole target and took it 8 yards. Lance Kendricks didn’t see the field at all, with the team opting to go with more 4 WR sets instead of 2 or 3 TE sets. The Chiefs had the 3rd worst run defense in the league going into last night, allowing something like 131 yards per game on the ground, and the Chargers opted to only run 19 times. Yes they were behind for, well most of the game, but it feels like there was definitely more opportunity to run the ball and would have met more success.
As for that RB group, Austin Ekeler actually had more snaps than Melvin Gordon, though not by much at 46 and 42 snaps respectively. All things considered they both had a pretty good night. Melvin Gordon had 14 carries for 69 yards, with a long of 21 on one of my favorite plays of the night, good for a 4.9 ypc average. He also added 3 catches for 21 yards on 5 targets. The negative here is that those 2 incompletions on targets his way were both bad drops on his part. Especially the final target in his direction on the final drive when the team was trying to go win the game. He had 10 yards of green grass in all directions, the ball hit him in the hands, and he just dropped it.
Ekeler meanwhile had another fantastic game. He caught 8 of his 12 targets for a whopping 108 yards receiving, while adding another 24 yards rushing on 5 carries. He’s just so hard to tackle and so good in the open field. To put in perspective how good he’s been as a receiver this season: he has 2 100+ yard receiving games this season. Mike Williams has 1 such game in his career. He’s currently 21st in the NFL in receiving yards with 667 on 65 catches. The next closest RB is Christian McCaffrey with 517 yards on 59 catches. He’s currently averaging 60.6 yards per game receiving, if he averages 66.6 yards receiving per game over the last 5 games he’ll hit 1000 yards receiving on the season. More on that later in the week.
Rayshawn Jenkins played the full compliment of snaps on defense, as he normally does, and had maybe his best game as a Charger. He had 3 tackles, all of which were impact tackles that he made coming back towards the line of scrimmage, not chasing someone down from behind. He also had a fantastic interception of Patrick Mahomes that was a thing of beauty. It was good to see him do so well last night.
Thomas Davis played 97% of the snaps last night. I still stand by the fact that he shouldn’t be playing that many snaps, but with Drue Tranquill out, Denzel Perryman still not 100%, and the team still not convinced of Kyzir White’s abilities for some reason, they didn’t have much choice but to play him that much. He had 12 tackles and a good pass defended, however he did miss a handful of tackles that could be cleaned up.
Sticking with the LBs, the team was forced to bring Jatavis Brown out of the doghouse and he played 72% of the snaps. He managed 3 tackles and didn’t look like a liability out there, although he came very close to a late hit out of bounds early in the game. Perryman got in on only 31% of the snaps but was 3rd on the team with 7 tackles, 6 solo, as well as forcing a fumble. As I mentioned above, the strange thing here is Kyzir White’s low usage. Only 7 snaps (10%) for White. Based on his performance early in the season, it’s kind of a head scratcher as to why his playing time was so low with Perryman limited and Tranquill out.
One of the big questions this week was at SS. With Jaylen Watkins having played so well the past few weeks, now that Roderic Teamer was healthy, what would the team do there? We got our answer: Jaylen Watkins has secured that job. He was on the field for 96% of the defensive snaps and Teamer got 5 snaps. Watkins held up his end and brought down 11 tackles while seeming to be all over the field. If he keeps playing this well the team might have a pretty tough decision on their hands in the offseason with both he and Adrian Phillips set to become free agents.
The defensive line saw Justin Jones return to the field this week and he was back in the starting role, eating up 56% of the snaps and securing 3 tackles. Damion Square was back in more of a rotational role playing 41% of the defensive snaps but continues to be a valuable and strong contributor adding a TFL and 4 total tackles last night. 1st round pick Jerry Tillery continues to disappoint. He played a similar number of snaps to Square, 26 for Tillery to Square’s 28, yet didn’t record even an assisted tackle and didn’t make much of an impact at all from what I can remember from the live watch.
At DE, Joey Bosa had a relatively quiet night with 2 tackles and 2 QB hits while playing 76% of the snaps, which is a season low % wise. The other half of the Supa Sack Bros however, played out of his mind. Melvin Ingram had 5 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 Sack, 2 QB Hits, and 2 PD. He was impacting the game in a huge way. That’s part of the beauty of having both Ingram and Bosa: It’s borderline impossible to keep them both quiet in the same game.
Derek Watt added another ST tackle to bring him to an NFL leading 13 (3 players tied for 2nd at 11). Ty Long had a good night with 3 punts for a 47.7 yard average, including a 59 yarder. Michael Badgley hit 3 of 4 attempts, but missed a 40 yard attempt that looked like it may have been caused by the less than ideal field conditions. All in all, outside of a few bad plays from Desmond King on punt returns, special teams did pretty well last night.