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Chargers Week 16 ‘Surge or Static?’: Jackson glided to a career day while the defense failed to step off the bus

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Somehow, in a game full of unusually poor performances, a couple Chargers enjoyed standout performances in the team’s 41-29 loss to the Texans.

Without getting to much into what happened because, let’s be real, who wants to get into that anyway, it was a horrendously bad game that can either be the final nail in the once-promising season or it could be the final straw for this team as they continue ridding the franchise of lingering mediocrity from team cultures of the past.

For all of our sakes, let’s hope they lean towards the latter.

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 Texans.


RB Justin Jackson

Jackson followed up his notable performance against the Chiefs with a career day as he combined for 162 total yards of offense and two rushing touchdowns. He also single-handedly saved my fantasy football season and sent me to the championship game, so you won’t catch me slandering Jackson ever again!

But for real, Jackson was played just like his backfield mate Austin Ekeler in that he finished with a team-high in receiving yards (98) while consistently gashing the Texans front with chunk runs on the ground. He was also a very safe check down option for Justin Herbert and it may be safe to say he’s rightfully earned to the full responsibility as Ekeler’s primary backup whenever he returns.

WR Josh Palmer

With Mike Williams and Jalen Guyton both out against the Texans, Josh Palmer secured five receptions on six targets — both numbers good for second on the team — and also caught his third touchdown of the season. Despite not seeing a starter’s share of snaps in his first season, he’s already proven to be a complete receiver who can produce when given the opportunity. The future is already very bright for Palmer and I hope he gets the chance to help his team even more during the season’s final two games.

K Dustin Hopkins

Hopkins made all of his kicks in a game where most of everyone around him failed to consistently do their jobs. That’s enough to land him on this side of the article. The veteran has been everything that the Chargers have needed in a kicker over the past five years and I hope I am not saying that prematurely. Aside from a few missed kicks, he’s been a massive upgrade over what Michael Badgley was during the 2019 and 2020 season.

Here’s to hoping the positive momentum continues through the end of the year and into the seasons to come.


The Entire Defense

If I wasn’t receiving a paycheck to do it, I might have turned off the game before halftime arrived. The product on the field was just that hard to watch.

The Chargers came into Sunday’s game as the worst defense in the NFL when it comes to getting off the field on third down. By the time the final whistle blew, they had allowed the Texans to convert on nine of their 13 third down attempts. That pushed the Chargers’ conversion rate allowed to 51.1 percent.

The Texans were also the league’s worst rushing attack and averaged just under 15 points per game at 14.8. Rex Burkhead, who had roughly 200 yards rushing and a single touchdown on the year heading into Sunday’s game, left with 149 yards and two more scores. The Texans offense scored 34 points. The implosion experienced by the Chargers was akin to a dying star: Beautiful and magnificence only matched by the sheer ferocity of the event.

It’s still up in the air who is to blame for the loss, whether it’s the immediate option (Brandon Staley and coaches) or if it Tom Telesco’s inability to build a roster with any semblance of depth. After all, two of his last four first-round picks (Kenneth Murray, Jerry Tillery) have been some of the defense’s biggest duds over the past few seasons. Both have been so readily bad at their original positions that each have spent time at another position in hopes of sparking something that obviously is not there. That’s not a good sign for any player, nonetheless two former high-value draft picks.