The LA Chargers are 1-0 after a narrow win over the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s not the size of the win that matters though, only the fact that it happened. We spent a lot of the offseason talking about players who could have impacts and how Anthony Lynn would use them when the Chargers finally happened and it did.
We’ve learned a little more about what Lynn’s thinking for 2020 but there’s a lot more season left to go. These are seven thoughts I’m having after Week 1 but they could all change and evolve in the coming months.
Jalen Guyton is the number three for now
An undrafted free agent out of North Texas by way of Notre Dame and Trinity Valley CC in 2019, Guyton played in 18 offensive snaps as a rookie. In Week 1 vs the Bengals, Guyton played in 47 snaps. A high school teammate of Kyler Murray, Guyton bet on himself after his college career didn’t go as planned, entering the draft with a year of eligibility remaining and not getting selected. He signed with the Dallas Cowboys and LA picked him up last October after he was released at final cuts.
He was only targeted once, but he made good on it, gaining 16 yards.
Guyton beat out rookies Joe Reed and KJ Hill plus Jason Moore for the three spot. He didn’t have his name called out many times but he played nearly the same number of snaps as Austin Ekeler, so it would seem he’s locked in for now.
Austin Ekeler with one target
One year after catching 92 of 108 targets, Ekeler was only thrown at one time by Tyrod Taylor on Sunday. He caught it and gained three yards. Last season, Ekeler’s low for single game targets was two and his low for yards was 14. Is this a change in philosophy when basing the offense around Taylor? Is it how they wanted to best beat the Bengals? Was he simply a victim of circumstance?
Ekeler was given an extension mostly because of his prowess in the passing game. He may have had a career-high 19 carries too, but I think Anthony Lynn wants to continue to see him as a dual threat.
Is Joshua Kelley gonna do to Austin Ekeler what Austin Ekeler did to Melvin Gordon?— M.G. (@MarcasG) September 13, 2020
Safety rotation will need continued monitoring
With Derwin James out, Rayshawn Jenkins played in all 68 snaps on defense but moved between free safety and strong safety, whereas Desmond King had 41 snaps and Nasir Adderley contributed 27. Anthony Lynn said after the game that the team could get to the point where they aren’t rotating King and Adderley, should one of those combinations start to work really well. This week, results may have been more mixed.
Michael Davis is in the secondary also
Maybe more of a reminder for myself than anyone else, but a much-hyped secondary that features Chris Harris and Casey Hayward at cornerback also had Davis getting 60 snaps on Sunday. Not unusual per se given his role on the team the last two seasons and signing a one-year, $3.2 million deal in the offseason, it’s just interesting that some names could get lost on a defense like this one. Even starters.
How Davis plays in the coming weeks could say a lot about his future with the team past this season.
Loss of Drue Tranquill hurts, but shouldn’t stop this defense
Hopefully Tranquill makes a full recovery from the injury (speculated to be a broken ankle) he suffered this week. The Chargers were expecting a lot from the second-year fourth round linebacker out of Notre Dame and he’ll likely finish 2020 with only one tackle. Optimistically speaking for the team, linebacker is an area that may feel comfortable and we know that LA’s strengths could be at cornerback and defensive line regardless.
Lynn gave rookie linebacker Kenneth Murray 62 snaps (91-percent) and Nick Vigil 58 snaps this week. Uchenna Nwosu, Kyzir White and Denzel Perryman were all below 20 snaps.
Joshua Kelley only played in 18 snaps
He had 12 carries for 60 yards and a touchdown. If we’re looking at the rate of success-per-play, no Chargers player could be rated higher than Kelley maybe. As of one game, it was a successful complement to switch between Ekeler (50 snaps) and Kelley, but how will upcoming opponents gameplan for that switch in the future? Should a run be expected 66-percent of the time ... every time?