Sunday night’s loss to the Chiefs was probably expected by the majority of the fan base. That didn’t stop the Chargers from forcing hope down everyone’s throat as they led for the majority of regulation just to lose in the final minute to the duo of Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce.
Andy Reid remains the best coach in the NFL and the Chiefs are arguably the best team in the NFL unless you’re from the state of Pennsylvania. But somehow, despite still being one of the most injured teams in the NFL, the Chargers almost did it. Again.
This week, I’ve got two and two once again for our “Surge or Static” players from week 11. This one gets a little rant-y at the end, so bare with me. Let’s dive right in.
WR Josh Palmer
Palmer was right on track to record a new career-high in receiving yards against the Chiefs, but ultimately finished with 106 yards, once again tying his previous high mark which he posted in week nine against the Falcons. He also hauled in a pair of touchdowns from Justin Herbert, including a massive 50-yard strike on the team’s opening drive of the game.
With Mike Williams force to leave early in the game due to a re-aggravation of his high ankle sprain, Palmer was once again thrust into the team’s WR1 role while Keenan Allen continued to play on a pitch count. This latest performance should go a long way in solidifying the chemistry between him and his quarterback.
Former Vol Josh Palmer with the 50 yard TD pic.twitter.com/t4nl6HnNOd— zach ragan (@zachTNT) November 21, 2022
WR Keenan Allen
Despite playing on a limited snap count, Allen found a way to leave his mark on Sunday night’s dogfight between the Chiefs and Chargers.
Trailing 23-20 in the fourth quarter with under four minutes to play in regulation, the Bolts needed a touchdown to take back the lead once again. On a third-and-18, Herbert looked to his top wideout streaking up the right sideline before launching a rocket his way. Allen got a step on his defender at the last second and made a full-extension grab to haul in the pass inside the Chiefs 20-yard line.
A handful of plays later, Herbert would find Palmer for the go-ahead score.
It was a breath of fresh air to have Allen back on the field, and when him, Palmer, and Mike Williams were all together to begin the game, the offense looked incredibly more explosive. A real night-and-day difference.
So here’s to hoping Williams will be back as soon as possible and that Allen can manage his hamstring for the rest of the regular season.
HC Brandon Staley
It seems like it’s been a long time coming. After another game against the Chiefs where the weakest parts of the Chargers game plan came from directly under his power, Staley rightfully deserves blame for yet another loss to the Chiefs.
Prior to last year’s victory against the Chiefs early in the season, Staley made it known that field goals will not be good enough and you have to be aggressive and put your neck out there in order to best Kansas City. In that matchup, the Bolts went for, and succeeded, on several fourth-down attempts that ultimately were the difference.
On Sunday night, the Chargers had more than one opportunity to inflict their will on the Chiefs in order to maximize their chance at walking away victorious. Instead, Staley went against his own preachings and played down to the level of any other head coach who has tried and failed to beat Andy Reid.
With 40 seconds remaining in the first half and a timeout in their pocket, the Chargers faced a second-and-inches at the Chiefs two-yard line. Despite gashing the Chargers between the tackles on the very same drive, Joe Lombardi called a toss play to the right which was stopped for a loss of two yards. That forced Herbert into an obvious passing situation and the Chiefs were able to dial up pressure and force an incompletion. The Bolts would forego the fourth-down try and kick it to go up 20-13 into the half before receiving the opening kickoff of the second half.
The first obvious disaster was attempting to run outside the tackles with your third and fourth-string tight ends instead of putting it on your elite center and fellow interior lineman to earn a yard when all the momentum is behind you. The second was believing the eventual field goal would mean anything against this team that has been the largest thorn in your side for the majority of the past decade.
Later in the second half, the Chargers were still nursing a 20-16 lead towards the end of the third quarter. The Chargers had already been stopped on their opening drive of the second half and needed to take back some momentum. After Ekeler was stopped short of the first down marker on third-and-one, the Bolts faced another crucial down inches from the line of gain. Instead of putting it on his lineman to gut out one yard on the ground, Staley chose to punt it away. After the game, Staley admitted he felt that flipping the field was the better call.
The overall feel for the game in crucial and pivotal moments continues to be missing from this team’s toolbox. Fans can live with the results if the process remains strong, but that just hasn’t been the case for the Staley and company this season.
I’m not going to spend anymore time here than I have to.
Kelce is an all-time great. Arguably the greatest tight end of all time. He already is, or is very well on his way, to being those things.
Do you know what he isn’t? Juggernaut from the X-Men comics. But despite this objective reality, the Chargers are seemingly incapable of not just attempting to tackle him, but arguably allergic to even touching the guy when he catches the football in stride.
Twice. TWICE on Sunday night, Kelce took a short crosser — no more than five yards away from the line of scrimmage — and turned it into a touchdown of over 30 yards. The biggest part of the Andy Reid genius is not outthinking yourself and your players. Reid sees a good player, makes it incredibly to get them the ball, and then lets them do their thing.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Real life isn’t as simple as, “Just stop Kelce.” Of course I understand that. But there’s quite a huge difference between expecting your defense to consistently keep Kelce to five or more yards after the catch and short of the first down line compared to expecting them not to implode on some of the most pivotal downs of the entire game.