It wasn’t your classic last-second loss for the Chargers, but it still had 90% of the usual characteristics of one.
Sunday’s game against the Dolphins was also the first outing where Justin Herbert looked anything like the rookie that he is. It was bound to happen, so let’s not get too worked up about it.
Let’s go ahead and get into it, though. Here are Week 10’s Surge or Static players of the week.
RB Kalen Ballage
With 102 total yards of offense against the team that drafted him, Ballage recorded just his second game with over 100 scrimmage yards of his three-year career. His career-high is 121, which he put up against the Vikings in 2018.
Ballage looked like a guy who wanted this win in a bad way. I also think it helped he was going up against the the first team that gave up on him.
Ballage ran hard, hit the creases with power, and avoided making the wrong decisions when it came to maximizing his yards on the ground. Some may look at his 3.8 YPC average and say he wasn’t all that efficient, but that’s only because Ballage was the back tasked with running into stacked boxes on third downs and when they were near the goal line.
Ballage’s receiving ability has also been a big help for Justin Herbert, who struggled with Miami’s pressure from start to finish. He’s not going to be Austin Ekeler after the catch, but he can do enough to limit bad plays and move the chains.
This is such a fantastic job managing the pocket by Justin Herbert here. Doesn't get much better than this. Great run after catch by Ballage as well. pic.twitter.com/TjJ4qp1FAR— Guilty As Charged Podcast (@GACPodcast17) November 17, 2020
Anthony Lynn told us earlier on Wednesday that Ballage will be the lead guy in the backfield, but there will still be a “running back-by-committee” (RBBC) approach going forward.
TE Hunter Hery
Henry got in the end zone for the second time this season, making good on his goal of being better that he expressed to the media earlier in the week. For one of the most-complete players at his position in the NFL, Henry knows he needs to show up each and every week. Despite recording only 30 receiving yards on the day, a trip to the end zone always makes up for the lack of production elsewhere.
Like Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, Henry suffered from a lack of early looks against the Dolphins. While they all finished within a target or two of each other, the Bolts need to find a way to get their playmakers going earlier in games.
LB Nick Vigil
Vigil hasn’t played all that much, but he’s truly made the most of it when he sees the field. Even if that’s simply having a knack for being in the right place at the right time, you got to give credit where credit is due.
In what seemingly felt like Vigil’s first snaps on defense since his Week 1 performance against his former team, the former Bengal recovered the his second fumble of the season when the Chargers defense needed a takeaway the most. His lengthy return set the Bolts up in Dolphins territory and quickly led to the Chargers’ first touchdown of the game.
In all honesty, it’s actually been rather odd that the Chargers went out of their way to sign a former 16-game starter at linebacker only to have him sit on the bench all season. I mean, it’s not like the starting linebackers have been all that great, anyway. Maybe the defense could use someone with a bit more experience at times, even if it’s just a a handful of snaps per game.
DE Melvin Ingram
Six games played. Zero sacks. Zero tackles-for-loss. $14 million.
That’s the short and sweet about Ingram’s performance so far this season.
To be fair, the game of football goes far beyond simple numbers like these, but it’s no less a staggering indictment on the veteran pass rusher and what the team, and fan base, has come to expect from him.
Ingram has been good for recording “pressures” this season, most recently leading the team with three against the Dolphins, but pressures only go so far in helping a defense stop opposing offenses. With Joey Bosa having missed the past two games, Ingram now has only started one less contest than the Big Bear. The stats comparison is obviously insane.
Heck, Uchenna Nwosu’s stats in just four starts, and much less total playing time, are far better than what Ingram has been able to provide.
Ingram needs to turn things around immediately, or else he might be surprised at the lack of suitors lining up outside his door in 2021.
WR/PR K.J. Hill
Hill’s placement on this list is a bit of a culmination between his muffed punt against the Raiders and his unfortunate decision to let a punt bounce for another 10-12 yards against the Dolphins, resulting in a drive starting at the Chargers’ four-yard line.
Hill is a rookie, but he’s no youngster. Hill stayed all four years with the Buckeyes and left the school as the program’s all-time leader in receptions. While he’s not having to worry about actually catching passes from Herbert, the staff and the rest of the team is counting on him to sure-up what may be the league’s worst special teams unit. While the coverage teams struggle to limit opposing returners to modest gains, Hill needs to be able to create his own spark for the team in this close games.