Happy Hump Day, y’all.
The Bolts took the field against the Broncos without some of their best players, and lost a few more throughout the game, but they still scratched and clawed their way to another close victory.
Justin Herbert set an NFL record, a pair of tight ends set season-highs in yardage, and the Money Badger looked like his old self on Sunday. All of these are positive events that only continue to reaffirm that this squad might really be on the right path after a disastrous first three-quarters to the season.
With that said, let’s dive into this week’s Surge or Static players from this past Sunday.
K Michael Badgley
Week 16 stats: Converted four-of-four field goals with a long of 43
Badgley bounced back after two missed kicks against the Raiders by making all four of his field goal attempts against the Broncos. In the end, the Chargers needed every one of them as his final kick was the difference in their 19-16 victory. On the season, Badgley has missed nine field goals and currently has the lowest conversion rate (72.7%) of any kicker with at least 30 attempts., but this latest performance certainly makes it seem like he’s on the right path heading into the offseason.
TEs Stephen Anderson and Donald Parham
Week 16 stats: Combined for six receptions and 95 yards receiving on nine targets
In Sunday’s game, the Bolts were without their top wideout in Keenan Allen and starting tight end in Hunter Henry, as well as backup tight end Virgil Green who has been out since Week 7.
In Henry’s stead, Parham and Anderson combined for what would have been an excellent stat line for a tight end in any single game as they combined for a little under 100 yards on six receptions. Parham finished with 47 yards on a two receptions while Anderson caught four passes for 45. Both yardage totals were season highs.
On Parham’s longest catch of the day, he added a respectable stiff arm against Denver corner Michael Ojemudia which was a nice cherry on top of his performance on Sunday.
RB Austin Ekeler
Week 16 stats: 10 carries for 45 rushing yards, three receptions for 23 receiving yards, receiving touchdown
It wasn’t the most-productive game for Ekeler but that was largely due to game script and the overall flat performance by the offense against a depleted Denver defense. However, Ek still found a way to be a part of a historic day for Justin Herbert as he hauled in the rookie’s 28th touchdown pass of the season, breaking Baker Mayfield’s mark of 27 back in 2018.
QB Justin Herbert
Week 16 stats: 21-of-33 passing for 253 yards and a touchdown, four carries for 26 rushing yards
He did it. He actually did it.
With a single touchdown pass against the Broncos, Herbert has now thrown for the most passing scores by a quarterback in NFL history, and he did it in only 14 games with one more still remaining next Sunday. Against a bunch of backups in Week 17, Herbert has a real shot at getting to 30 passing touchdowns while he can flirt with Cam Newton’s 35 total scores that he put up back in his 2011 rookie season.
On my second watch through of the Denver game, the entire offense honestly looked a bit shaky from the start. The run game was non-existent (as per usual) and the connection with the younger receivers was just not there like it was the previous week. Despite all of that, Herbert — like he’s done the previous two weeks — managed to make all the plays that he needed to in order to get the “W” in a one-score game. The win made it three in a row for the team and four-straight victories in one-score games.
CB Michael Davis
Week 16 stats: Allowed eight completions on 13 targets for 86 yards, one pass breakup
Davis unfortunately followed up a bad performance against the Raiders with another unfortunate outing against the Broncos. Over the past two games, Davis has been Pro Football Focus’ worst-graded defender all while giving up 193 yards and a touchdown on 13 receptions allowed.
It’s honestly been tough to put a finger on exactly what the cause is of his sudden regression. Against Las Vegas, it was Darren Waller who ran past him on a go route for a touchdown and it was Jerry Jeudy who seemed to catch him off balance repeatedly against Denver. Waller and Jeudy are different players who win in different ways, so what exactly is Davis struggling with? He’s usually excellent against speed due to his own elite athleticism, so maybe Jeudy’s route-running savvy or Waller’s immense size were just the right traits to exploit against Davis. Either way, it’s been one of the worst two-game stretches of Davis’ career.
DT Jerry Tillery
Week 16 stats: Zero tackles, one pressure
TIllery has also seen some rather underwhelming performances as of late, with his latest culminating in a zero-tackle effort against the Broncos where he tied for the most snaps played by a Chargers defensive lineman. He did record a single pressure, but other than that, he was non-existent on Sunday. To be fair, the fact that he has stopped his knack for ill-timed penalties is a positive, but the Chargers were already getting a lot of nothing from Melvin Ingram this season. Tillery becoming the same type of player this late in the season does not bode well for his future outlook. He’s still got all the talent he displayed at Notre Dame, but he needs to find some semblance of consistency, at end or tackle, especially when he’s given the opportunity to start in place of Ingram and/or Joey Bosa.