The Los Angeles Chargers were able to keep it rolling against the Browns and close out the game 30-28. Ekeler posted his best rushing total of the season so far and was dominant on the ground all day. The offense as a whole was balanced with no real bad performances. The Chargers have found their offensive identity and look great even without Keenan Allen.
Ekeler continued his playmaking streak against the Browns and appears to have gotten into a good rhythm in the offense. He was very efficient with the ball averaging 8.65 yards per touch, his best of the year so far. On the road, the star running back looked like himself, blasting off the line and making defenders miss at the next level. The Chargers were rated 25th in running before the week but ended with 238 yards. He also broke loose for a 71-yard gain in the first quarter, demonstrating that he still has great speed.
The Chargers RB2 has finally emerged, with Kelley totaling his highest yardage of the year. He finally was given more than 4 carries this game and looked like a great one-two punch with Ekeler. Kelley is a more physical back, and the Ekeler-Kelley split should be more like Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon in Green Bay. The Chargers run game may have just found its footing with Kelley becoming the bona fide RB2.
As I mentioned earlier, the offense was very balanced as Mike Williams thrived. He was great against Cleveland’s solid corners working against Denzel Ward for most of the game. Williams did what he does best and won at the catch point, making athletic grabs the whole game. Herbert has improved his chemistry with Mike Williams as his main wide receiver during Keenan Allen’s absence. The Bolts are a better team and a more efficient offense when Williams does well. Williams has a challenge next week against a Denver defense that has allowed the 6th least passing yards.
Although he might not be a household name, Tranquill has been an underrated part of the Chargers defense this season. He currently leads the team in tackles and has been a solid presence in the middle of the field. He’s been versatile on defense and has done everything that’s been asked of him and more. Whether that has been blitzing the quarterback or dropping back in coverage, Tranquill has done it and looked better than Kenneth Murray.
What was once one of the strengths of this defense wasn’t as dominant against Cleveland. The pass rush was only able to generate three sacks and QB hits all game. The Browns offensive line is one of the best in the league, but someone should have been able to pressure Brissett better.
Khalil Mack was negated by Jedrick Wills and no other defender seemed to step up. Unfortunately, it’s looking like the Chargers are suffering from the Aaron Donald effect, where no other defenders are able to step up when their main guy is blocked. The Chargers are missing Joey Bosa as the pass rush runs through him first.
It’s going to be a tough game for any run defense when they have to match up against the best backfield in the league, and the Chargers got beat up. Chubb posted his best yards per carry of the year (7.9) as he gashed the defense for some easy gains. The defensive line as a whole was disappointing, especially after they tried to improve run-stopping in the offseason. The unit did however improve mightily in the 2nd half, only giving up 39 yards to Chubb in the final two frames. So that is a major positive.
4th and Staley has come back in full force this season and the analytics almost lost the Chargers the game. The Chargers as a team have had some battles this season and have kept some games closer than they needed to be. The decision to go for it at the end of the game was an interesting one, to say the least, but the defense was able to hold enough for Cade York to miss the FG attempt. This could easily have been one of those games the Chargers lost in “heartbreaking fashion” and luckily they didn’t. For someone that is supposed to be a defensive-minded head coach, you would think he would want to put his defense in a better position.