The Los Angeles Chargers had an ugly loss to the Seahawks on Sunday where not much went right on either side of the ball. Let’s take a look at some winners and losers from the matchup. The bye week offers them a chance to right the ship.
Austin Ekeler: Though Ekeler’s rushing yards took a hit from the previous week, he made up for it in terms of receiving yards. He had 96 of them, stepping up to be a dynamic option for Justin Herbert when at times it felt like there were none.
The rushing touchdown he fought for between two defenders, stretching himself out to the goal line, demonstrates pure grit. In ways, he’s become THAT reliable. A stabilizing option for the offense that Keenan Allen used to be. Ekeler is NOW always there and is always on. The fear is that he is taking too much on. He was the primary receiving target this game, and an injury to him would definitely be a hard blow to an already banged-up offense.
Drue Tranquill: A bright spot of an up-and-down defense again this week was Tranquil, who according to PFF had five stops, the most of the team. Which were one of the few things that got in the way of Kenneth Walker and DeeJay Dallas. He had the Chargers best PFF run defense grade of the team at 82.6 and the second-best grade for defensive coverage of receivers at 72.4. He’s been a constant for this team throughout a pretty tumultuous start to the season.
Nasir Adderley: Daniel Popper of The Athletic remarked last week after the Broncos game that “Adderley will rarely be a stat-sheet filler given the position he plays. But he was assignment sound. Adderley was in control and doing his job.”
The same can be said for his performance this week. He was all over his coverages, posting the Chargers highest grade for defensive coverage at 79.7%. He tied Tranquil for the most solo tackles with 7 and had the second most STOPs at 4. It’s clear after these last two games that he is meant to stay in the starting job, and he will likely continue trending in the right direction.
Keenan Allen: Allen has been out for several weeks with a hamstring injury and during the post-game press conference, Brandon Staley acknowledged that they didn’t play Allen during the second half because they didn’t want to push his injury. He will benefit from the rest with the bye week pending.
According to PFF, he was only in for a total of 23 snaps and didn’t contribute much to the offense in that time. He only had 11 receiving yards with one notable catch. After that catch, I definitely did a little cheer inside, thinking that maybe this would turn into one of those classic games of magical Herbert and Allen connectedness. But, Allen wasn’t in there long enough for any of that beauty to materialize. After an extra week of rest, he’ll come back ready to snap this offense into shape.
Isaiah Spiller: Spiller is most likely slowly working his way back into the scheme like Allen, all but for a brief flicker, he too didn’t have much of an impact. He was only in for about four total snaps and actually had negative receiving yards. The expectation is for him to have a bigger third running back role once the bye week is over. Ekeler will need all the help he can get with Joshua Kelley on IR. Sony Michel has been trying his best, he hasn’t quite had as many explosive plays as Ekeler this season.
Run Defense: This game certainly wasn’t the Chargers worst run defense this season. The team had an overall grade of 57.5%. But it’s hard to get the images of Walker and Dallas running through this Chargers team out of their minds. It took everything I had not to cover my eyes as another runaway touchdown of the season flashed across the screen, this time for 74 yards by Walker during the fourth quarter.
Kenneth Murray had some of the biggest issues with run defense this week. There were several occasions where he just couldn’t get his hands on Walker. The team overall needs to step it up in this department. Staley said during their post-game press conference that they didn’t hold the edge well during that play, and perhaps the solution is having Michael Davis more on the left side to counteract some of these runs. Something has to change and fast, and the hope is that the bye week will offer the coaching staff some much-needed clarity for the Chargers.