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Chargers Week 15 ‘Surge or Static?’: Pass rush comes alive alongside Bolts’ playoff chances

Kyle Van Noy and Drue Tranquill led a strong effort that took down Ryan Tannehill four times on Sunday.

Tennessee Titans v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Sunday’s win over the Titans was unfortunately a bit like paint dry outside of the Chargers’ first and last drives of the game.

Until the Chargers final broke through for a second touchdown in the fourth quarter, it felt like a weird time loop where no matter what happened, we just kept coming back to a 7-7 score.

Thankfully, the loop was broken and the Chargers managed to come out on top thanks to some more late-game magic from number 10 (even if his worst plays helped nudge the Chargers into it in the first place).

With that said, let’s take a look at this week’s “Surge or Static?” players from the Chargers 17-14 victory over the Titans.


EDGE Kyle Van Noy

For the second consecutive game, Van Noy recorded a sack which marked his second since joining the Chargers this offseason.

It was a slow burn for Van Noy who was thrown in to the opposite edge spot in place of the injured Joey Bosa. With no sacks through the 10 weeks, it was starting to get a bit old watching a traditional 4-3 outside linebacker try his hand at rushing the passer full time. But now, Van Noy’s found a groove that hopefully he can stay in for the remainder of Bosa’s rehab time. That may not be much longer, but fans should be prepared to have KVN be the guy opposite Mack simply until he isn’t.

Van Noy finished the game with five total tackles, a tackle for loss, and a sack.

LB Drue Tranquill

Tranquill is a guy who has made a lot of cases to be on this side of this post but usually fals victim to being the less-interesting option compared to Justin Herbert, Derwin James, etc.

But not this week.

Tranquill led an excellent performance by the defense, keeping the Titans to just 14 points which is a season low allowed by the Chargers this season.

He finished with 10 total tackles, a sack, and another tackle for loss on Sunday night. He’s done nothing but break previous career high marks all season and is squarely on his way to earning another contract with the Chargers.


QB Justin Herbert

Herbert may have dazzled on the final drive to put the Chargers in position to win the game, but he still had one of his worst performances of the year against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL.

For the second time this season, Herbert finished the game with zero touchdown passes. Through his first 31 career games prior to this season, he had only one such game. However, I’d be remiss to not mention Joe Lombardi’s obvious role in this unfortunate feat, as well a the injuries that have plagued this team, specifically the games missed from Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. It’s tough to throw touchdowns when your best players aren’t on the field, but it’s even harder when your offensive coordinator refuses to throw passes into the end zone once the offense is inside the 10-yard line.

Herbert’s first interception was simply what it was: A phenomenal, rare play made by the Titans defense where there really wasn’t supposed to be one to be made. The second, unfortunately, was one of just two ill-advised throws by Herbert all season that ended in an interception. Former All-Pro safety Kevin Byard took advantage of a late throw over the middle and managed to out-muscle Mike Willliams for position before taking the ball away.

It was a frustrating event for fans who aren’t used to seeing plays like that from Herbert, but maybe that just goes to show how lucky we’ve all been to be able to witness and enjoy his crazy high level of play on a weekly basis.

But if you think Herbert is still throwing too many interceptions, I’ll leave you with this: Herbert is on pace to set a new career low in interception percentage at 1.5 percent. If anything, his picks have been more about volume than him just being careless with the football.

DT Morgan Fox

Fox has been one of the team’s best players when it comes to rushing the passer, mainly due to the opportunity that gets to do just that instead of playing a ton on early downs. However, with injuries at the position, Fox has been forced into more work on all three downs and this Sunday’s game against the Titans showed he still can get a lot better at stopping the run.

Per Pro Football Focus, Fox was the Chargers’ lowest-ranked player by a large margin. He ended Sunday with an overall game grade of 39.0, way below the next lowest in Ja’Sir Taylor who finished with a 55.4. Fox’s biggest blemish on his grade was his run defense, which was a 39.1. On top of that, it didn’t help that his 53.2 pass rush grade was the worst among all defenders who rushed the passer at least once.

Despite the down game from Fox, he’s still on pace to finish with his highest PFF overall grade of his career (59.1) outside of his rookie campaign where he only played 75 total snaps.