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Hidden Factors: Analyzing what you missed in Week 3

What lessons can we take from another disappointing finish?

NFL: Houston Texans at Los Angeles Chargers Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday was a rough loss. The Chargers felt like they were in control for a good portion of that game just to let the Texans back in the game.

Let’s see if the statistics bear out the way that it felt.

Win Percentage

Game Win Percentage

I don’t know if you have heard, but looks like Keenan Allen is pretty good. More than half of the plays that made the biggest impact for the Chargers win percentage were Keenan Allen catches. Most of the time, win percentage is influenced the most by turnovers and points scoring. Keenan Allen 2 catches that significantly influenced the game.

Just like last week, a Chargers mistake leading to a touchdown is what swung the match up towards a loss. Last week it was a missed Field Goal, this week it was Rivers’ fumble. Despite that, the Chargers almost defied the odds to drive down the field late for the game tying touchdown (or more likely, go for the win). But why did it come to that? Especially when the Chargers were in control for most of the game? Let’s see if we can get any clues from the statistics.

Game Summary

The Chargers need to do better on 3rd and 4th down on Offense and Defense. A 35 percent success rate for those downs is bad. Some of this might be because of the Houston Defense, particularly that Defensive line against the Chargers Offensive Line considering the lack of success in early downs as well.

After a loss there is always a lot of second guessing that goes on. One of the things I’ve seen a lot is that the Chargers should have run the ball more when they had the lead. By the numbers, they only rushed 3 fewer times than Week 1 with much worse results on a per rush basis. Maybe one runner performed better than the other?

Reviewing the Chargers Offense

Chargers Game Statistics

For the 3rd straight week, Justin Jackson has been a better rusher than Ekeler and the 3rd straight week Ekeler has been the better receiver. However, neither one had a good day. We’ll see what the workload looks like when Gordon returns to the team.

There is Keenan Allen and his fantastic day. His 17.8 Total EPA is higher than any player in either of the first two Chargers games. An EPA/play of 1.05 with 17 targets is fantastic too. Nice to see that Kendricks and Green both had positive contributions. They aren’t going to be able to carry this Offense, but if they continue to be useful in their limited touches the Offense will be able to stay consistent.

Mike Williams had another positive day despite 4 of his 9 targets being penalties. 2 of them were Defensive Holding that he powered through, 1 was Defensive Pass Interference, and finally, the 17 yard reception nullified by a holding penalty with 30 seconds left in the game.

Reviewing the Houston Offense

Houston Game Statistics

Deshaun Watson pretty much carried the Houston Offense all day. In addition to his scrambling, every target in the passing game had a positive EPA/play. Week 1’s Rushing Defense is looking like more and more of a fluke or momentary lapse. That said, considering how many resources have been put into players that defend the pass, that’s a bad stat line. For me, considering the Win Percentage graph at the top, why didn’t Houston have its way with the Defense all game?

Houston’s 1st Half Receiving

Houston 1st Half Statistics

Deshaun Watson’s scrambling and Kenny Stills were pretty much the entire Houston Passing Offense in the first quarter. It looks like Houston was trying to attack the Defense with their Tight End in the first quarter too to their detriment.

Houston’s 2nd Half Receiving

Houston 2nd Half Statistics

The good news, is the Chargers didn’t allow Watson to hurt them with his feet. The bad news is that he pretty much passed with impunity. Fells and Johnson were successful on 100% of their targets. Akins was the most targeted and was only successful on 2 of them, but both were touchdowns. This is the biggest reason for the shift in the game. Once Houston got its Passing Offense going they were able to come back and take over the game.


Nullified Touchdowns in 2019

Just to fuel the conversation, here are the touchdowns nullified by penalty so far this season. ‘Posteam’ is the name of the team who was on Offense during the play. Despite the sheer number penalties, the Chargers are one of only 13 teams to have this happen so far this season and have the second most so far this season behind only San Francisco, who had 3 in one game.