The Chargers faced the Chiefs on Thursday night on the road and unfortunately could not hold on to their lead, leading to a disappointing loss. After hot starts for both teams, many expected this to be one of the highest-scoring games this week, but both teams couldn’t really get it going on offense. Let’s review the winners and losers from this divisional matchup.
After failing to make much of an impact last week, Mike Williams picked up the slack for Keenan Allen and led the team in receiving. He had four times the number of receptions and about ten times the amount of receiving yards while he looked as great as last season. Williams proved the doubters wrong and showed why the team gave him the big contract in the offseason. Herbert did seem to look his way much more often even when he was covered, proving that they needed some time to get warmed up. If Allen misses more time, the Chargers’ offense looked fine with Williams as the main guy.
Asante Samuel Jr.
Asante Samuel Jr. seems to have taken the next steps as a cornerback. He’s done a great job in coverage the first couple of weeks, and this week nearly had two interceptions. After an injury-riddled rookie year, it’s great to see him making plays in the secondary. His hustle on the field is incredible, and he is exactly the type of player Staley wants on the back end. By the end of the game, Samuel Jr. had four tackles and a pass defended while allowing only three completions. Samuel is earning his stripes.
Derwin James had a great night tasked with covering the Chiefs’ main receiver, Travis Kelce. James was the ring leader of a group that held the star tight end to five catches for 51 yards, nearly half the performance he had against the Cardinals. In addition, James had a WWE-style tackle on Kelce at the goal line to stop a score, which was helpful. If Derwin can stay healthy the entire year, he’ll be one of the best at his position in the league again.
Unfortunately for the Chargers, not only was their superstar quarterback Justin Herbert injured, but they also lost All-Pro center Corey Linsley for the second half and starting right tackle Trey Pipkins III during the game. Herbert took a couple of shots to his upper body with a defender’s helmet landing on his ribs. The offensive line has long been a problem for the Chargers and the loss of Linsley and Pipkins doesn’t help that situation. Depending on the severity of their injuries, it’ll be up to Will Clapp and Storm Norton to fill in. The team has expressed confidence in those two players but anytime you lose two starters, your offensive line is going to suffer. Especially when one of those players is the caliber of Linsley.
Simply put, Austin Ekeler has played up to his standards so far this year. Despite improving his performance from week one, he has struggled to make a consistent impact in the run game. His yards per carry average the past two games is a measly 2.7 and I have to wonder if something is wrong. The Chargers also significantly used Joshua Kelley and Sony Michel in this game, who were both more efficient with their touches. Ekeler needs to step up his game and take some pressure away from Herbert.
Chargers-Chiefs Recap: Winners and Losers. Photo via Ty Nowell