The Chargers may have lost to the Bills on Saturday night but that didn’t stop the fans from coming away feeling as if they had just watched their favorite football team take a step forward. Despite being nine days removed from losing both their head coach and general manager, the Chargers looked like a team that was determined to step up to the plate to show they truly weren’t the team that just got demolished by the Raiders.
They fought hard. They made it competitive and nearly came away with an upset. In the end, as it always seems to, it came down to a one-score game. Like the previous five games settled by three points or less, the Chargers ended up on the wrong side of the final score once again.
With all that said, the Chargers still had some standouts, according to Pro Football Focus.
Let’s go ahead and see how things shook out in Week 16.
Best (min. 20 snaps played)
Easton Stick - 77.6
OT Rashawn Slater - 76.9
OT Trey Pipkins - 74.7
TE Gerald Everett - 70.6
TE Stone Smartt - 66.0
By his early standards, Stick showed up and showed out against the Bills defense that made life hell for the Cowboys and Chiefs in previous weeks. He did set the world on fire, but his clean day through the air was enough to keep the Chargers competitive. He rushed for a touchdown and threw zero interceptions en route to the team’s top offensive game grade.
With several notable pass-rushers on the Bills, Slater and Pipkins got the job done by keeping Stick much cleaner than they did against the Raiders. Both posted top-three grades.
The tight ends got early work while Everett finished with a team-high seven receptions. Smartt caught a bullet from Stick in the first quarter to help get the Chargers on the board early.
C Brenden Jaimes - 40.7
TE Nick Vannett - 41.8 (16 snaps played)
OG Jamaree Salyer - 43.5
WR Jalen Guyton - 48.1 (17 snaps played)
RB Isaiah Spiller - 49.3 (17 snaps played)
This was a big week for Jaimes as it was his first career start in the NFL while also being his first attempt at leaving an impression for a team likely looking for a new starting center in 2024. He unsurprisingly had a rough go as he ended as the team’s lowest-graded player on Saturday. He mainly struggled as a run blocker (34.4) but ended up around average in pass protection (62.0). Salyer struggled in pass protection, posting a 34.3.
Both Guyton and Vannett saw their overall game grades suffer due to poor run blocking. The former posted a 31.1 and the latter ended with a 41.3.
EDGE Khalil Mack - 90.3
DT Nick Williams - 82.1
S Alohi Gilman - 81.5
EDGE Tuli Tuipulotu - 81.4
DT Austin Johnson - 72.9
The defense was without starting defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day due to the team releasing the veteran just a day before they were to play the Bills. Nick Williams started in his place and had what may have been his best game of the season. Fellow starter Austin Johnson also cracked the top five. Both were stout in run defense (both graded above 74.0) while Williams had an above average pass rush grade (63.1, fourth best on team).
Mack led the defense with four pressures but couldn’t finish what should have been his 100th sack of his career. Josh Allen slipped out of his arms but ended up getting taken down by Eric Kendricks and Tuli Tuipulotu.
Gilman picked off Allen to extend his consecutive contests with an interception to 10. He was also in the top five for tackling and run defense grades.
DT Scott Matlock - 33.1 (19 snaps played)
LB Kenneth Murray - 37.4
DT Morgan Fox - 39.8
DT Otito Ogbonnia - 43.3
S Derwin James - 43.4
James saw his role on defense reduced this week to just 41 snaps. He also played all but two snaps in the slot defender role. Defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley wanted to minimize James’ role to keep his list of responsibilities cleaner. However, he still landed in the bottom five of this week’s grades due to a very poor coverage grade (37.8, second worst on the team).
Despite being a strong day for the starters along the defensive interior, all three of the team’s main rotational players struggled when given the opportunity. Matlock is a rookie sixth-round pick so he gets a pass most weeks, but he’s only recorded one game grade above 60.0 (dead average) in the 10 career games he has played in.