Can the Chargers get a break from playing a top-rushing team? No? Well okay then.
For another week, the Bolts defense get to hold on their hats while they attempt to stop one of the NFL’s best rushing attacks. Add in the fact that the main threat is former league MVP Lamar Jackson — a literal cheat code — and you can expect another long day at the office for the front seven.
Similar to last week, the Chargers get another chance to solidify their dominance in the AFC with a win over the Ravens. Can Brandon Staley pull out more money-down magic? Can the offense find the endurance necessary for another potential shootout?
I sure as heck hope so.
With that being said, let’s get into this week’s three things.
1.) How much will Drue Tranquill’s injury impact the team’s ability to contain Ravens run game?
When Kenneth Murray was placed on IR prior to the Raiders game, it wasn’t deemed as the biggest loss to the defense as his replacement, Drue Tranquill, had already been playing better in his limited number of snaps. Now, with Tranquill looking to miss the Ravens game and before a much-needed bye week, Kyzir White will be the only linebacker with starting experience available for the Chargers.
In Tranquill’s place, expect to see rookie Nick Niemann make his first career start. Niemann led the team in tackles during the preseason and already has shown a nose for the football. I believe he still needs to add some mass to his lean frame, but his rare athleticism should help mitigate some of the other shortcomings in his game.
Nice play here by rookie LB Nick Niemann shedding a block and getting the run stuff. pic.twitter.com/u5ciZaU4In— Daniel Wade (@dantalkssports) August 15, 2021
2.) Justin Herbert and the passing could be in for another big game
After throwing for 398 yards and four touchdowns against the Browns’ top-five defense, Justin Herbert will now get the chance to face the Ravens’ 29th-ranked pass defense which is allowing 296.4 yards per game. The loss of Marcus Peters to a torn ACL at the start of the year is really weighing heavy on a unit known for being one of the best in the NFL.
Baltimore’s defensive front is also missing a key member in defensive end Derek Wolfe who was placed on IR on October 2. Add in the fact that safeties DeShonn Elliott and Geno Stone have been limited in practice this week and you can see why this might be another game where the score gets up their fast.
3.) How will Asante Samuel Jr. respond from being “benched” against the Browns?
During the second half of Sunday’s game, many fans watching probably had a moment where they thought, “Hey, where’s Samuel? I haven’t seen him for a bit.” That’s because he was replaced by Tevaughn Campbell early in the second half after allowing one too many big plays through the first two quarters. One was a big catch-and-run by Donovan People-Jones and another was a poor tackle attempt on Nick Chubb during massive touchdown run to begin the second half.
But don’t count out the two-time rookie of the week for one bad outing. Anyone who knows Samuel understands that he’s going to balance his big-time plays with some rookie mistakes. If you want his two interceptions, you’re going to have to accept that he’ll get called for a big DPI every other week. At the end of a day, he’s a ball-hawking playmaker that we’d rather have than not.
He’ll be just fine.