“Yikes” is the word that sums up my reaction to Sunday’s Los Angeles Chargers game against the Broncos, and only a part of that “yikes” is due to actual game performance. The other part is attributed to the players that remained on the field despite the Chargers being firmly locked into the fifth seed in the AFC playoff picture, making the result of this game moot concerning seeding. All of this brings me to my first loser below:
Brandon Staley emphasized during his post-game press conference that they only had 48 players on their roster and could only evaluate two practice squad players for this game. He said their plan was to have people play for a period of time and then phase them out little by little. He went on to say that they needed to field a team and that this wasn’t like preseason where they had 90 players to choose from.
I completely understand giving your players reps in the game, especially at positions that lack quality depth, but did we have to keep some starters out there for some long?&nbsp;
Justin Herbert played through the third quarter. As did Austin Ekeler. Keenan Allen was still playing deep into the fourth. Chase Daniel certainly could’ve taken on the bulk of this game but was only played in the fourth quarter. Khalil Mack most likely didn’t need to play as many snaps as he did, given that there are others that could’ve picked up slack in that position group, like Chris Rumph, who according to Pro Football Focus played just 20 snaps, and Derrek Tuszka, who only played 14.&nbsp;
In terms of receivers, Josh Palmer was only targeted six times and DeAndre Carter was only five, while Allen had 11 targets. In terms of running backs, Larry Rountree was actually moved up from the practice squad for this game and definitely could’ve been more involved.
I’m all for competing but when Mike Williams goes out during the second quarter with a back injury and playoffs are next week, I start panicking. According to Staley’s Monday media availability, Williams’ MRI said that there is no fracture or muscle injury but that he has a contusion. He confirmed he’ll be back at practice this week. “Contusion” doesn’t make me feel any better and I’m fairly certain Chargers fans will have similar anxiety all week as we wait and see if he’ll be okay to play.
Chargers Defensive Backfield
The Chargers issues with run defense continued with Latavius Murray, but they also were lacking in receiver coverage. Overall, the team had the lowest receiver coverage of the season, with a PFF grade of 47.5.
Jerry Jeudy had the most receiving yards of the season with 168. Freddie Swain, who has only played 109 snaps across three games with the Broncos, also got a season-high of 54 receiving yards. Almost all of Swain’s yards came on a 52-yard catch during the fourth quarter, when Asante Samuel Jr. was too far behind to catch him. Because of that catch, this game marked Samuel’s lowest receiver coverage grade of the season at 32.8.
Though Ja’Sir Taylor’s grade was not too low at 65.6, he did allow Jeudy to get a 50-yard completion while he was in coverage. It’s these types of plays, coupled with questionable run defense, that may hurt the Chargers next week, so I’m hoping these errors get ironed out in practice.
Kyle Van Noy
I know I wrote about Van Noy last week but I feel like he’s worth mentioning almost every week now given the contributions he’s made to this team. He had the teams third-highest pass rush grade this week at 70.5 and had five combined tackles.
During the third quarter, he had a beautiful batted pass, and in trying to catch the deflected pass, it bounced off his hands and into Sebastian Joseph-Day’s, marking the first interception of Joseph-Day’s career. And a few plays later, Van Noy grabbed onto Russell Wilson’s ankle as he tried to scramble out of the pocket, resulting in his fifth sack of the season. He’s doing the most at a time when it really counts.
In my first piece for the LAFB Netwokr, I asked whether Gerald Everett had what it took to step into this tight-end role, and I think we can now conclude that he has and is making it his own. He has more receiving yards than they were last season at 555 compared to his 478 in 2021, and he’s already matched his touchdown number from last season with four. His yards after-catch season total is 335 compared to 251 in 2021, and he has 58 total receptions, 10 more than last season. He’s had a touchdown in the last two games and doesn’t look like he’s slowing down.&nbsp;
Jared Cook only had 48 receptions last year and though he had similar receiving yards to Everett with 564, he also had lower total yards after the catch at 243. Everett signed a two-year $12,000,000 contract with the Chargers and given the production he’s shown so far, they certainly seem to be getting their money’s worth. I’m excited to see what 2023 will bring now that he’ll be firmly embedded in the scheme.
Though I hate that Keenan Allen was out there deep into the fourth quarter, I had to mention his two receiving touchdowns from Sunday, the most of any game he’s played this season. In his post-game interview, he said it was good for him to play, given that he’s missed time. Not sure if I agree that he should have played this many snaps, but it was quite satisfying watching him get touchdowns from passes made by two different quarterbacks.&nbsp;