Happy Halloween, Chargers fans!
Whether you take time to celebrate the holiday or not, I hope you get your fill of candy and chocolate just like everyone else.
The 2022 season has been filled with plenty of ups and downs. Unfortunately, I think “downs” are ahead on the scoreboard if you’re keeping track at home. To go along with the holiday, I thought I’d do a little something and highlight the “tricks” and “treats” that have been bestowed upon the Chargers so far this season. I’ve chosen two of each, but with 10 more games to go, one can only hope they don’t continue at such a rapid pace.
Let’s go ahead and dive in, shall we?
J.C. Jackson was worth the $80 million price tag
I don’t think anyone could have imagined that Jackson’s first season with the Chargers — after signing a hefty five-year, $80 million dollar contract this past March — would end with him being arguably the worst player on defense through seven games and be done for the year before the bye week hit.
Year one in powder blue will end with zero interceptions and just as many surgeries as pass breakups (two). After 17 interceptions and 37 pass breakups over the past two seasons, this was certainly the biggest trick played on the Chargers this season.
The offense is a punchline
Justin Herbert is who he is today in the NFL due to his elite deep-passing prowess and his unbelievable ability to go through progressions in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately for Charger fans, the Herbert that the entire football world has come to know and love just isn’t the same guy this season and that’s unfortunately due to a number of circumstances outside of the fan base’s control.
Is his rib injury really that bad? Is Joe Lombardi really the culprit that many people want him to be? Is something wrong inside of Herbert’s head, aside from the injury? Is it the injuries to the players around him?
All of these are playing a role in turning the Chargers into a milquetoast offensive scheme and it’s killing fans who want to point at one singular thing and exclaim, “That’s it.”
No one wants to watch an offense led by Herbert throw hitches and check-downs for the majority of the game each week. Out of quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts in 2022, Herbert currently ranks 25th in average yards per attempt (6.5) and 28th in average air yards per attempt (3.6). He also is tied for the league lead with 17 dropped passes by his receivers (per Fantasy Pros), something that was all too frequent a year ago, as well.
After a shaky start, Austin Ekeler is still an elite dual-threat running back
After scoring 20 total touchdowns a year ago, Ekeler and his fantasy owners were sent spiraling through the team’s first three games of the season where he averaged 73 yards from scrimmage and scored zero touchdowns.
Since week four, Ekeler is now averaging 129.5 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns per game. That’s quite the dramatic shift and Chargers couldn’t be happier about it. His 53 catches are leagues ahead of the second-closest total for running backs and he’s on pace to crush the NFL record for receptions by a running back with 129. 49ers back Christian McCaffrey currently holds that record with 116.
Khalil Mack is exactly who the Chargers hoped he’d be
Mack kicked off his time with the Chargers with a three-sack performance that helped snag revenge from the Raiders in week one. He has since recorded several more sacks and sits with six currently on the year and seven tackles for loss. He’s been a one-man wrecking crew at times and it’s a shame he only got to rush opposite Joey Bosa for two and a half games before the latter went down with a serious groin injury.
The former Defensive Player of the Year has been everything the Chargers expected him to be when they traded for him from Chicago and this is easily the best move Brandon Staley has made in his time with the Bolts.