The Chargers won and got to celebrate their fourth Victory Monday of the season. The win over Atlanta also signified the Bolts’ first win over a team that came into their matchup with a better record.
Justin Herbert was uber efficient but the offense only managed 20 points. Thankfully, the defense stepped up and kept the Falcons to just 17 points and picked off quarterback Matt Ryan three times, including two in the final four minutes.
Offensively, Austin Ekeler looked like his usual self. He rushed 15 times for 79 yards and also led the team with nine receptions and 67 yards through the air.
But at the end of the day, the secondary told the story of this game, so let’s get into this. Here are the Surge or Static players for Week 14.
CB Michael Davis, S Jahleel Addae, and S Rayshawn Jenkins
Week 14 Stats: Combined to allow three receptions on eight targets for 34 yards, six total tackles, one pass breakup, and three interceptions
This trio balled out against the Falcons and it was almost enough for me to get back to calling them the “Jack Boyz”.
But let’s give credit where credit is due. Davis recorded his team-leading third interception of the season — also a career-high — and has been one of the the Bolts’ most-dependable defenders in this tumultuous season. Of all secondary members who have played in at least half of the games this season, Davis has allowed the lowest completion percentage, the lowest passer rating allowed (71.7), and is tied with a team-low two scores given up.
Michael Davis INT sets up a Chargers field goal and the Chargers finally win a one possession game! pic.twitter.com/Ln4FjA9gEE— Hunter Miller (@MillerHHunter) December 14, 2020
Now as for Jenkins, he’s also tied with Davis in allowing only two scores and has given up a team-low 8.4 yards per completion against him. His 10.1 percent missed-tackle clip is also the best among all secondary members.
EDGE Uchenna Nwosu
Nwosu only got 17 snaps on Sunday and as always, he made the most of them. Joining defensive tackle Justin Jones, they were the only Chargers defenders to record sacks on the day. What’s going to help this defense going forward are the guys not named Joey Bosa stepping up and creating for themselves. Nwosu has consistently proved to be one of those players this season and Jerry Tillery — when he isn’t getting stupid penalties — is also finding his way there.
WR Tyron Johnson
Week 12 Stats: Six receptions, 55 receiving yards, one touchdown
Johnson registered a career-high 54 snaps (74 percent) against the Falcons and rewarded them with the second-most receptions by a receiver on the team, which was also a career-high.
I asked offensive coordinator Shane Steichen about his Johnson’s comparisons to former wideout Tyrell Williams on Tuesday’s press conference and he told me that they’re both the type of speedsters who you need to get the ball to with space in front of them. The Chargers did a great job of doing that with Williams and the goal now is to find that level of consistency with Johnson. There were a couple short crossers thrown to T-Billy in this game but each went no longer than a yard or two, so here’s to hoping they can unlock that part of their offense before the season is over.
OC Shane Steichen
Week 14 stats: Called a running play with 22 seconds left in the first half with no timeouts remaining
At the end of the first half on Sunday, Herbert and the offense marched down the field on a terrific, time-killing, 16-play drive that was going to allow the Chargers to come away with points before the half without the chance giving the Falcons enough time after the fact.
However, following the use of their final timeout and 22 seconds remaining in the half, Steichen called a run to the right out of the pistol formation. Kalen Ballage was stuffed for no gain and then all hell broke loose.
The offense thought they had a first down and were about to try and spike the ball. With the clock still ticking, they were told they failed to get the first, which prompted Lynn to send out the field goal unit. But the offense was paused for too long in indecision and there was no way for all the players to get on/off the field before the clock hit zero. After 16 plays, the Chargers came away with zero points.
That’s absolutely debilitating.
Both Lynn and Steichen echoed the sentiment that a run play being called there cannot happen and is flat out unacceptable. A successful, or failed, pass play would have put them in the same situation, allowing everyone to be in a better place to spike the ball had it succeeded. Instead, the Chargers were the brunt of more criticism from professionals and fans on social media regarding any semblance of proper in-game strategy and clock management.
CBs Casey Hayward Jr. and Chris Harris Jr.
Week 14 stats: Combined to allow nine receptions on 14 total targets for 162 yards and two touchdowns
This game was an incredibly disappointing performance by the defenses perceived “best” cornerbacks. It’s been a theme this entire season, but both Hayward has been nothing close to what the fan base has come to expect from him and Harris hasn’t been the savvy veteran we’ve come to know from his time in Denver. Neither corner has an interception to their name this season and both were exploited by both Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage from start to finish on Sunday.
Hayward has allowed the most yards and touchdowns on the team with 576 and five, respectively. At the same time, he’s allowed the lowest completion percentage of any member in the secondary at 49.3 percent. In his prime, Hayward won with his instincts and quick-twitch ability. This season, he’s been taken advantage of by bigger, faster wideouts and has been picked on in scramble drills. Hayward has never been all that fast, but as of now, he seems to have lost whatever it’s been that has kept him able to follow number one receivers consistently in the past.
Harris, in only six games in 2020, has allowed four touchdowns. Since 2018 — the year Pro Football Reference has been recording advanced coverage stats — that is tied for his high over the last three seasons (four in 2018). The unfortunate thing is about that number is he allowed those four scores in 2018 across 12 games, not six. This shows evidence of another veteran who seems to be struggling now that he’s over the 30-year old hump.