The Chargers dug themselves an early hole that they couldn’t quite escape before the wheels all finally came off in a 37-23 loss at home on Sunday. More injuries piled up to starters and it’s finally gotten to a place where you can’t help but laugh at the insanity that is this team’s injury luck.
The bye week is here which is a literal God send. Everyone who isn’t out long-term will get some much-deserved rest before the they return to take on the Falcons in week nine.
Two players definitely stood out on offense this week which made for an easy pair of winners. However, the list of losers was far too lengthy for my liking. Unfortunately, the two players who were static this week are two of the team’s biggest stars.
Let’s go ahead and take a look, shall we?
RB Austin Ekeler
Ekeler produced the majority of the team’s offense against the Seahawks as he hauled in a season-high 12 receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. He was much less productive on the ground but that was mainly due to the Chargers falling behind almost immediately by three scores. He finished with 31 yards on nine carries and a score.
With Herbert under duress and/or his receivers failing to get open downfield for most of the night, he was forced to pelt Ekeler with targets behind or just ahead of the line scrimmage all day long. It happened so often that it actually became comical.
Ekeler has scored eight touchdowns over his past four games and is currently on pace to have 128 receptions on the season. That would absolutely break the current record set by a running back.
Austin Ekeler's last 4 games:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 24, 2022
- 109 total yards, 3 TD, 34.9 fantasy points
- 199 total yards, 2 TD, 35.9 fantasy points
- 86 total yards, TD, 24.3 fantasy points
- 127 total yards, 2 TD, 36.7 fantasy points
He's on pace for 128 catches this season, by far most ever by a RB.
WR Mike Williams
For the first time this season, Williams recorded a yardage total that fell between 20 and 110 yards. Up until this Sunday, he had three games with under 20 yards and three with over 110. There was no middle ground for him. But on a day where receiver group was as limited as it’s been all season, Williams came through with an impactful performance that didn’t include one of his trademark jump balls.
He ended the day with seven receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown that came from 13 yards out on a short crosser. Williams has always flashed as a YAC guy when given the opportunity to run through an arm tackle and he showed that again on this play.
However, the unfortunate news is that Williams may be set to miss some time after a high ankle sprain he suffered late in the game. The team has the bye, but it’s hard to see him coming back immediately after
QB Justin Herbert
For the second game in a row, Herbert threw over 50 passes. He has 108 over his past two outings and I don’t think anyone needs a bye week more than his right arm.
Herbert looked off, to say the least, on Sunday against the Seahawks. It could very well be due to a number of factors:
1.) His receivers were banged up and he mainly had Michael Bandy, Jason Moore, and DeAndre Carter to throw to outside of Mike Williams. Keenan Allen was active but saw very limited snaps and did not play much, if at all, in the second half.
2.) Defenders are batting down his passes at the line of scrimmage at an alarming rate. He had three passes deflected at the line of scrimmage and that’s awfully strange for a 6’6 quarterback. His release isn’t super high, but Joe Lombardi’s offense revolves around short, efficient passes. It does seem as if defenses are keying in on this and it’s been tough to get into a rhythm when these types of plays happen this often.
3.) His ribs could still be bothering him, but I don’t see this being all that likely. He was removed off the injury report prior to this week’s prep and I don’t think the team would have done that if he wasn’t in a better place than he was in the weeks immediately following his injury.
Herbert may have thrown the worst interception of his career, as well. With two defenders within five yards of DeAndre Carter (see below), Herbert attempted to rifle it in from 20 yards away. The linebacker had Carter smothered all the way up the field before the receiver bent the route inside. At no point was this a good idea and, unsurprisingly, Herbert needed to take the checkdown.
Chargers fan can only hope the offense looks revitalized and fresh coming out of their extended break.
EDGE Khalil Mack
For the first time, Mack ends up on the wrong side of this article.
Sunday was by far the worst outing for Mack in a Chargers uniform. His overall game grade from Pro Football Focus was 47.8, good for third-worst behind J.C. Jackson (31.7) and Jerry Tillery (40.0). He recorded one total pressure and zero sacks. It was Mack’s first game with less than three pressures and he struggled the most in tackling (36.0).
I personally thought Mack played well in the run for the most part, but the numbers from PFF say otherwise. He did, however, have a couple rough plays where he committed to shedding his block inside which allowed Kenneth Walker to bounce outside for some big gains.
I do not think this outing means Mack has all of a sudden taken a big step back, but it was a disappointing outing, nonetheless.