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Surge or Static: Rookies key in Bolts outlasting Bengals

You gotta love the young guys getting a fast start to the season.

Los Angeles Chargers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

A win is a win. No matter how ugly.

The Chargers got a notch in the win column on yesterday despite some underwhelming play from a number of players, but a key few performed over their expectations and that made all the difference in this one.

Introducing, my first 2020 edition of my weekly segment, Surge or Static.

Let’s get to it.

Surge

RB Joshua Kelley

In his NFL debut, Kelley took 12 totes for 60 yards and his first professional touchdown. He was the only Chargers player to score on the afternoon and as Anthony Lynn has said following the game, “I don’t think we would have won that game without him.”

That very well might have been the case. Kelley’s 26-yard run was just the shot of adrenaline needed into the arm of the offense to believe they could gut-out this win. Of course, Kelley didn’t have the highest expectations on his shoulders prior to this game. However, you could he’s got a decent amount of them on his shoulder heading into next week now that we’ve seen what he’s capable of.

DT Jerry Tillery

After being graded as the worst defensive tackle in the NFL last year by Pro Football Focus, Tillery came out guns blazing against Cincinnati as he recorded the Chargers’ first sack of the year.

With the help of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram collapsing the pocket, Tillery used a double-hand swipe to clear the hands of the guard before tracking down Joe Burrow in the backfield for a big loss.

He played just 28 snaps as a rotational player with Justin Jones, but he was far-and-away the more productive defensive tackle on the day. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tillery take over as the team’s three-technique by the end of the season.

Honorable Mention: WR/KR Joe Reed

Reed only got to return one kickoff on Sunday afternoon, but boy did he make the most of it. In the second half, with the Chargers struggling to find a spark on offense, the rookie out of Virginia corralled the kick just inside the end zone and took off. After getting past the initial wall of defenders, Reed cut it back to the left and broke a tackle en route to a huge 46-yard return.

It was just one play, but it provided a huge wave of excitement for the team and fans, alike.

Static

QB Tyrod Taylor

Many of us - me included - did our fair share of hyping up Taylor prior to Sunday’s game. It was fun, I won’t lie. I loved being able to get excited about a different quarterback for the Chargers who could finally make plays with his legs.

However, all the new wrinkles, the mobility, and everything else he brought to the offense didn’t exactly culminate in an exciting debut. The offense was jumbled from the start and no one looked particularly comfortable out there.

At the end of the day, Taylor missed a handful of throws and seemed very hesitant in the pocket. He struggled with overthrows and was late on a number of reads. Here’s to hoping the Chargers can get a number of things ironed out this week before the Chiefs come to town.

S Nasir Adderley

The Bengals didn’t threaten the Bolts downfield all that often on Sunday so we didn’t get to see the safeties in action as much as we would have liked. There were no positive or splash plays made on the back end, but Adderley was unfortunately on the wrong end of Burrow’s 23-yard touchdown run when he took a bad angle to the ball, which resulted in the young safety face-planting as the last line of defense on the play.

Against a team like the Chiefs, expect the safeties - Adderley, Jenkins, and Desmond King - to see a lot more work.

This was Nas’ first professional football game, so we can let it slide, but he’s been lauded as having a good camp and the expectations are rightfully high for the former FCS All-American.