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Surge or Static Week 9: Wait, Kalen Ballage?

Some pleasant surprises from Sunday.

Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

It was another one of “those” losses on Sunday.

Heartbreak. Frustration. Pain. The usual cocktail.

As Anthony Lynn said on Wednesday’s Zoom presser, a team cannot go on a run unless they get that first win. The Bolts are still trying to string more than one together and this week’s game against the Dolphins is as good of a chance as any.

But before we fully focus on the next opponent, let’s take one last look at the pros and cons from this past Sunday. Here are the Surge or Static players from Week 9.

Surge

RB Kalen Ballage
Week 9 stats: 15 carries, 69 rushing yards, one touchdown / two receptions, 15 receiving yards

What a positive surprise Ballage was for the Chargers on Sunday. In his first game with the Bolts, Ballage was forced into a leading role after starter Justin Jackson went down with an injury after just a handful of plays into the game.

The third-year back, who struggled to stick with either the Dolphins or Jets, was quick to find a groove with the Chargers. Ballage capitalized on his first big opportunity by taking 15 carries for a team-leading 69 rushing yards and the team’s first touchdown on the day. The former fourth-round pick showed off some admirable contact balance while running with power behind his pads.

One of Ballage’s biggest knocks was his tendecy to run timidly between the tackles despite being a 6’2, 230-pound back. On one specific play, Ballage chose to cut horizontally two yards away from the first down marker instead of getting low and barreling forward for the easy yards. He didn’t end up gaining anything from the poor choice, forcing the Bolts to overcome a third down situation.

It was only his first game underneath Anthony Lynn, so I’m not too worried about his bad tendencies sticking around for much longer. Lynn will have him running like the F-150 that he is opposed to the Ferrari he believes himself to be.

DT Jerry Tillery
Week 9 stats: One tackle, one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one pass deflection

Tillery didn’t do a ton of one thing, but he did a little of everything and that was enough to make him stand out amongst the rest of the defense on Sunday afternoon. The Chargers struggled mightily getting after Derek Carr in the pocket and it wasn’t until the end of the first half that Tillery got home for a strip sack. The big-time play helped give the Bolts the lead at half after they were able to turn around and kick a field goal to make things 17-14 at the midway point.

Tillery played the majority of his snaps in place of the concussed Joey Bosa at the base end position opposite of Melvin Ingram. While TIllery performed well as a pass rusher, the run defense still needs work, altogether and for Tillery ,individually.

Overall, he was a rare bright spot on the Chargers defense in a game where there wasn’t a ton of optimism for that side of the ball.

WR Keenan Allen
Week 9 stats: Nine receptions, 103 receiving yards, one touchdown

It was another spectacular outing for the Slayer as he went over 100 yards receiving for the third time this season and caught his fourth touchdown of the year. Allen is on pace for eight touchdowns this year, which would tie-his career-high that he set as a rookie back in 2013. Oddly enough, Allen has recorded exactly six touchdowns in each of the past three seasons, so hopefully that trend finally breaks.

While Allen was widely the team’s leader in targets and receptions, it’s a cause for concern that the team’s best receiver didn’t see a target in the final three minutes of the game, including none in the red zone as the Chargers attempted to seal the come-from-behind victory.

Allen has to be utilized more in crucial moments going forward. He’s one of the top targets on third downs in the NFL if he’s able to come through in those moment through the first three quarters, he should be looked towards more when the game is on the line in the fourth.

Static

CB Casey Hayward
Week 9 stats: One tackle, two receptions allowed on five targets for 98 yards and a touchdown

While Hayward is still viewed as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, he’s been playing far from his best football this season. He’s already been targeted as many times as he was a season ago (48) and is one pace to allow more touchdowns than the previous two seasons combined.

Against the Raiders, he allowed just two receptions on five targets. While that’s an okay completion percentage, the two catches went for 98 yards and a touchdown. The score came when Nelson Agholor beat Hayward up the left sideline and Carr placed the ball perfectly over the defender’s head. The second catch was a big gain of over 50 yards when Hayward was in coverage against Hunter Renfrow. The shifty slot receiver broke away enough from Showcase during the scramble drill to catch a bomb on the run from Carr.

Two big plays that each had a role in downing the Chargers.

There’s enough holes on this defense already. Hayward’s drop in efficiency is only amplified because he’s always been the one the team could look to for consistency. I’m not sure that’s the case anymore.

LB Kenneth Murray
Week 9 stats: Four tackles

Murray’s placement on this list has less to do with what he did on the field and more to do with why he was taken off the field. According to Lynn after the game, he said that Murray was replaced by veteran Denzel Perryman due to the defense having “communication” issues under the rookie. Murray played a career-low in snaps against the Raiders but he’ll be right back in his starting role this Sunday, according to Lynn on Wednesday.

Murray hasn’t been as splashy of a player as the fans and coaches probably hoped, but that may have to do with how he’s being used. Murray is not a coverage linebacker, but he’s been in a coverage a lot this season. He’s currently in the top-10 for yards allowed by a linebacker, so I’m not sure why they keep forcing him into that position.

Going forward, Murray needs to be utilized. more on blitzes and pressure packages, but those are already hard enough when the back end of the defense can’t hold up long enough for pressure to get there.

K Michael Badgley
Week 9 stats: 2-of-3 filed goals converted, long of 45 yards, miss from 48 yards

Badgley couldn’t string together two perfect outings unfortunately and it cost the team another three points. He’s now missed five field goals and a pair of extra point attempts. That’s 17 potential points taken away from the team and those points are going to be put scrutinized even more when you take into account the Chargers have lost all of their games this year by a combined 24 points.

HIs latest miss didn’t do much to move the needle between Badgley and the coaches, so at this rate, I’m not sure how bad Badgley is going to have to perform for Lynn to even begin considering a change at kicker.