Aside from the big three — Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, and Keenan Allen — there wasn’t a ton of positives in this one. They lost by five and were one good play away from walking-off on Sunday.
To add insult to injury, the defense lost yet another starter for at least a month in Chris Harris Jr. That makes five defensive starters on IR for the Bolts and it’s only Week 4.
Here are my Surge and Static players from last week’s game against the Carolina Panthers.
WR Keenan Allen
Week 3 stats: 13 receptions, 132 receiving yards, one touchdown
It wasn’t a career day for The Slayer but it was still one of his best outings in some time, and definitely his most-productive in 2020. Allen was targeted a whopping 19 times in the passing game and finally recorded his first touchdown of the young season.
The recently-extended Allen has done a phenomenal job of churning out yards after the catch this year. He consistently makes an effort to tuck his head bowl over opposing defensive when given the chance and it’s been huge for an offense that been rather successful on third downs than in years past.
Herbert and Allen already have the type of relationship that was there with Philip Rivers, and that’s only going to lead to more positive outings between the two.
RB Austin Ekeler
Week 3 stats: 12 carries, 59 rushing yards, one touchdown / 11 receptions, 84 receiving yards
This was a trademark Ekeler performance on Sunday. RB1 was efficient in the run game while being one of the biggest contributors through the air on top of churning out valuable yards after contact.
Due to the game script, Ekeler was peppered with targets and he caught all 11 of them. His first rushing score of the game came off the right tackle where he had to shake off a would-be tackler before skirting around the corner into the end zone. After not seeing Ek find pay-dirt through the first two weeks, it was a breath of fresh air to see him finally get one.
Against the Bucs, he’s likely to see a similar script with the Chargers potentially down throughout Sunday’s contest.
QB Justin Herbert
Week 3 stats: 35-of-49 passing, 330 passing yards, one touchdown, one interception / three carries, 15 rushing yards
Another game, another impressive performance by the rookie that not many expected from after he was selected sixth overall in this year’s draft. Herbert hit the 300+ passing mark once again, and solidified himself inside a little piece of history. After Sunday, he joined Cam Newton and Kyler Murray as the only three rookie quarterbacks to throw for 300+ yards in each of their first two starts. I’d say that’s pretty good company, especially when you recall one played in a Super Bowl and won an MVP while the other is the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Similar to Week 2, Herbert threw another questionable interception, but he once again showed an incredible amount of poise, especially when he was faced with a potential 99-yard drive to win the game at the end. While he didn’t complete the comeback, he fell just one mishandled lateral short. If Ekeler had caught that cleanly, we’d be ceremoniously singing the young QB’s praises.
The offensive line
Week 3 stats: Two sacks, 5.5 tackles-for-loss, and eight QB hits allowed
Following Sunday’s game, Pro Football Focus rated four of the Chargers’ starting five offensive linemen among their bottom-five grades earned by players against the Panthers. Sam Tevi, Forrest Lamp, Dan Feeney, and Trey Pipkins were all graded incredibly poorly, and it showed up all the same on the film. The unit struggled with games and stunts executed by the defensive line from the very first drive, which included an 11-yard sack on Herbert.
Even veteran Bryan Bulaga, who left halfway through with an injury, was the one who allowed defensive end Brian Burns to sneak past enough to strip Herbert, which was the first of the team’s four turnovers on the day.
As things stand right now, the Bolts may be without both Trai Turner and Bryan Bulaga for Sunday. Both veterans did not participate in Wednesday’s practice and if neither go again today, I don’t see how either will start against Tampa bay on one day’s practice.
Chris Harris Jr.
Week 3 stats: four total tackles, two missed tackles, three receptions allowed on four targets for 49 yards
There unfortunately wasn’t a silver lining to cling on to prior to Harris’ injury on Sunday. He was targeted four times and allowed three completions while missing a pair of tackles. He was the secondaries best player through two weeks but really Bridgewater got the best of him. The missed tackles are just a pain to look at as this team struggled mightily with those in 2019 and Harris was added as a sure-handed tackler on top of being great in man coverage.
Without him for the next four to six weeks, the Chargers will be forced to play a lot more zone coverage going forward. Desmond King is also now slotted to take back his full-time role as the nickel corner.