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Chargers Week 14 ‘Surge or Static?’: Palmer shines Keenan Allen’s absence

Nwosu and the pass rush came to play!

NFL: New York Giants at Los Angeles Chargers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Without Keenan Allen to look towards, Justin Herbert had to rely on his other role-players to carve up the Giants defense. That included targeting rookie wideout Josh Palmer a team-high seven times which turned into five catches and his second career touchdown.

The tight ends got in on the fun as well with Jared Cook, Donald Parham, and Stephen Anderson all recording receptions on the day.

Heck, even the seldom-used Jalen Guyton was able to record a team-high 87 yards on three catches which also included a massive 59-yard touchdown catch from Herbert right before halftime.

Defensively, without Derwin James calling plays, the unit still kept Mike Glennon and company in check until the fourth-quarter shenanigans began. While the final score says 37-21, this could have easily been a game where the Bolts won by 30.

With all that being said, let’s go ahead and get into the meat of this thing. Here are this week’s players who either “surged” forward or stayed “static” with their play against the Giants. Let’s get into it!

Surge

WR Josh Palmer

In a game where the Chargers were missing their WR1, it was easy for many to simply say, “Yeah, Mike Williams is probably due for a big day against the Giants.” However, the scholars and intellectuals among us knew exactly what Allen’s absence meant: A potential breakout game for Palmer.

In fact, that’s what happened on Sunday afternoon as the rookie wideout was targeted a team-high seven times, catching five of them for 66 yards and scoring his second career touchdown on a well-thrown out-breaking route by Justin Herbert.

DT Justin Jones

Jones enjoyed one of his most-active games this season against the Giants where he consistently pushed the pocket and put himself in the eye line of Mike Glennon. He ended the game with a sack and a pair of quarterback hurries, with one of those coming on one of the Giants’ two attempts at a flea-flicker.

He finished the day with just a 56.2 overall game grade but he did notch a healthy tackling grade of 70.7. Overall this was a solid performance for Jones who needs to continue improving if the team hopes to compete for a playoff spot and beyond.

Static

S Trey Marshall

Marshall was thrown into the starting lineup due to a last-minute inactive status for Derwin James. James was added to the injury report on Saturday and the team felt that they could stand to be cautious with their defensive captain ahead of Thursday night’s massive game against the Chiefs coming up fast.

In his place, Marshall finished with a 57.5 overall game grade and allowed two catches on three targets for 61 yards, including the massive gain by tight end Kyle Rudolph that helped set the Giants up for their first touchdown of the day. On that play, Marshall fell down at the top of his backpedal which left Rudolph to run free at the second and third levels.

In a normal world, Marshall doesn’t see the field for more than a handful of snaps. Unfortunately injuries led to him getting the start and the Chargers need to hope this isn’t the case again this season.

LB Kenneth Murray

It’s been a rough start to Murray’s career in the NFL.

In just his second season after being selected in the first round of the 2020 draft, Murray has already lost his starting job as both Kyzir White and Drue Tranquill continue to perform much better on a more consistent basis. Even when given the opportunity, Murray struggles to make any sort of impact. Against the Giants, he finished with the worst grade of any Chargers player on either side of the ball with a putrid 28.7. For context, the next worst grade on defense is Tranquill who notched a 50.2.

Whether it’s as an off-ball linebacker or an edge player, Murray can’t seem to do much right. On 25 snaps played against New York, recorded one pressure but missed both of his tackle opportunities.

Right now he’s an uber-athletic linebacker that’s struggling to finish tackles and sift through trash in the box. If he doesn’t have a clear line to ball-carriers, he’s almost dead on arrival the second an offensive lineman gets their hands on him. It just doesn’t compute how it’s all going so wrong for him.

At the end of the day, I’m rooting for the guy, but something big needs to happen soon if he wants to regain control of his fate with this team before it gets too far out of hand.