Thursday’s game was a tough pill to swallow because, for all I could feel at the time, it was a phenomenal performance against a divisional rival. It FELT like a win. It SHOULD HAVE BEEN a win. But reality says otherwise.
Justin Herbert played out of his mind, as always. But it was the play of the backups who were forced into the fold that impressed me the most. The backup offensive lineman did one heck of a job. To run the ball that well against what was the NFL’s stingiest defense since week eight? Bravo.
It’s that fact that, despite the loss, I had plenty of players who deserved to be highlighted in this week’s “Surge or Static?”
With all that being said, let’s go ahead and get into this thing. Here are this week’s players who either “surged” forward or stayed “static” with their play against the Chiefs.
EDGE Uchenna Nwosu
Man, Nwosu has really been coming on as of late. Two weeks after forcing and recovering a crucial fumble in the team’s win over the Bengals, he picked off a Mahomes pass inside the Chiefs’ own 10-yard line to set up an Austin Ekeler touchdown that gave the Chargers the lead back late.
While Joey Bosa has been his normally-disruptive self, Nwosu has really become the bookend this team has been needing him to become for some time. With soft matchup against the Texans this week, Nwosu has another great opportunity to build on his positive momentum.
RB Justin Jackson
With Ekeler hobbled by an ankle injury, Jackson received a team-high 13 carries and turned it into 86 yards (6.6 YPC), including plenty of big chunk runs. The backup running back spot has been up in the air all season and it’s finally looking like Jackson is firmly staking his claim on the job.
We’ve always known Jackson has plenty of talent, but he’s been one of the unluckiest players on the team when it comes to staying healthy. This season, he’s been readily available most weeks and it’s been awesome to see him thrive. Of course, he was the team’s starting running back during that dramatic win over the Chiefs in Arrowhead just three years ago. If this team plays their cards right, they can rest Ekeler and still manage to make this year’s playoffs while utilizing Jackson more down the final stretch.
OT Trey Pipkins
Can we all just take a moment to realize what I’m doing here? Pipkins legitimately played well enough to not only be a non-detriment to the offense, but he truly helped pave the way for a big-time run game on Thursday night. The team finished with 192 rushing yards on 39 carries and their ability to keep the chains moving without putting more pressure on Justin Herbert was vital in the Chargers rallying from a 10-0 deficit.
This game alone might actually be what keeps Pipkins around longer than this year and honestly, if he continues to play like he did tonight, then maybe there’s something there after all.
S Trey Marshall
Marshall has been forced into starting snaps for two-straight weeks with Derwin James hobbled by a hamstring injury. In both games, he’s fallen down in coverage on a tight end and watched said tight end catch a pass and rumble for 60+ yards. Luckily, one of those two plays were against a team the Chargers knew they would beat regardless.
Marshall is only on the field this much because Alohi Gilman has yet to return from a quadricep injury he sustained almost one month ago. Injuries have devastated this secondary and while the likes of Marshall, Davontae Harris, and Kemon Hall were “fine” for good portions of Thursday’s game, they couldn’t manage to keep a lid on the Chiefs offense for long enough.
It’s not that any of us could have expected a GOOD game from Marshall, but a middling performance where he doesn’t fall on his face would have left fans content.
CB Chris Harris Jr.
After having one of his best games of the season against the Giants, Harris’ age and lack of speed showed up on Thursday night against the Chiefs. His poor performance was only emphasized as he was on the wrong end of one of Mahomes’ best plays of the night where he broke out of would-be Harris sack before scrambling and hitting Kelce for a big first down conversion.
The veteran was the only Chargers defender to miss multiple tackles on the night while allowing five of six targets his way to be completed. He did manage to limit those receptions 38 total yards but he also got called for defensive pass interference which helped Kansas City move right down the field on their opening drive of the second quarter.
Harris has been just fine against certain teams, but he’s a liability against a Chiefs team predicated on speed, speed, and more speed.