Sunday’s result hurts. It hurts so incredibly bad and it’s all only made worse with the plethora of “what if” scenarios that you could roll through your head over and over again.
What if the run defense was just...average?
What if your top pass-catchers just...didn’t drop so many passes?
What if Brandon Staley just...benched Kenneth Murray?
The list of these types of questions could go on and on. However, it’s just not worth it. There’s an entire offseason to focus on. It’s one that’s going to be filled with a ton of cap space and if that doesn’t get you excited about this team in 2022, I don’t know what to tell you. Just look at all the other teams who spent big in previous free agencies and reaped the immediate benefits, i.e., the 2021 Bengals?
Just know if you’ve felt numb and a bit lifeless this week, you’re not the only one and we’re right there with you.
So, let’s go ahead and get into this thing. Here is the 2021 season’s final edition of “Surge or Static?”
QB Justin Herbert
64 pass attempts.
That’s how many times Herbert put the game on his back against the Raiders.
Six completions on six fourth-down throws totaling 106 yards and the game-tying touchdown.
That’s how perfect Herbert needed to be to keep his team in this game and push them into overtime.
This man gave it his all each and every week of the season. Despite some middling performances, his highs absolutely obliterated his lows. Add in the underwhelming play of those around him and it makes everything he did just that much better.
Do the Chargers deserve Herbert? Maybe not, but I’ll be damned if he’s not the quarterback they desperately need.
On top of his fourth-down heroics, Herbert finished with 383 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He ended the season as one of only two quarterbacks to throw for over 5,000 yards while totaling 38 passing touchdowns and three more scores on the ground.
WR Mike Williams
Whether it’s with the Chargers or not, Williams is going to get paid this offseason.
For the first time since he was drafted in 2017, Williams has finished as the Chargers’ leader in receiving yards with 1,146. His 76 total receptions also obliterated his former career high of 49 catches during the 2019 season.
Against the Raiders, both Williams and Allen started much slower than the Chargers would have wanted in a game like this. But when the fourth quarter hit, it was all Herbert and Williams. He caught six passes, including two fourth-down receptions and the game-tying touchdown to end regulation.
I've watched this maybe 30 times this morning. pic.twitter.com/P5N39BmkB4— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) January 10, 2022
KR/PR Andre Roberts
Just a week after returning the team’s first kick return for a touchdown in nine years, Roberts contributed one of the biggest special teams mistakes you can make at his position: Muffing a punt.
After the Chargers went three-and-out, they responded with their own stop to get the ball back down three. Roberts received the kick and then proceeded to try and make something happen. Unfortunately, the “something” was a few jukes that netted zero extra yards before former Chargers receiver Tyron Johnson punched the ball out of his grasp. The Raiders would go on to score their first touchdown of the night to extend their lead to 10-0.
Roberts was a MASSIVE pickup in the middle of the season and I don’t think the Chargers would ever regret the signing, but you can’t mess up much worse than that in a game with that much on the line. I believe Roberts should return next season, but they certainly need to use the draft to plan for the time after him, as well.
OT Storm Norton
Norton’s season began on a very negative note as he struggled tremendously to fill in for the injured Bryan Bulaga. As the year progressed, however, so did Norton. Now I can’t say he was setting the world on fire but he certainly wasn’t the glaring issue he was during the first half of the season. Down the stretch, Norton was “fine” and that’s really all he needed be to keep himself from ruining games for Herbert and the offense.
But then came Sunday night and Maxx Crosby.
When I say a turnstile would have provided a better challenge for Crosby, I mean it. Norton was essentially non-existent against the Raiders and it almost single-handedly kept them from getting into the playoffs. Herbert got beaten and battered all night long and this absolute titan of a quarterback still pushed through to throw over 60 times.
Herbert is too good of a person to say it, but I’d request a trade far sooner than I would allow Norton to block for the team’s franchise quarterback again.