Justin Herbert Proves To Be Too Much; Chargers Take Down The Browns
I think we all need to breathe after this game. The game was full of plenty of highs and lows that left all of us extremely relieved by the end of the game. The Los Angeles Chargers welcomed the Cleveland Browns to SoFi stadium and gave the home crowd a show. Between one tie and eight lead changes, this game had everything you would hope for in a modern NFL classic.
Below we are going to dive into all the thoughts that I had during the game and after I was able to digest everything. Let’s get to it.
Defense? Who needs it?
I’m a betting man, I was convinced this game was going to hit the under. The Chargers’ previous four games had hit on the under, and the Browns last week held the Vikings to only seven points. I really couldn’t have been more wrong. It was 20-13 at halftime and you could tell the direction this game was heading, the Chargers couldn’t stop the Browns and they were going to have to put up some points to keep up.
It’s becoming a problem that I hope they are trying their hardest to address, but the Chargers cannot stop the run. The Browns ran for 230 yards averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Historically, that has not been a winning formula in the NFL. It was big run after big run and it set up very easy situations for Baker Mayfield to get whatever he wanted, throwing for over 300 yards and 2 touchdowns. The over hit by the end of the third quarter and that’s when it got crazy. There were 6 touchdowns and 41 points scored in that quarter alone.
Simply put, the Chargers are lucky they got bailed out over and over by their quarterback because their defense did not deserve to win this game. Brandon Staley being a defensive-minded head coach is an overplayed narrative, but he does call the plays and he cannot be very pleased with how that unit performed yesterday.
The Chargers have an MVP candidate at quarterback
I can’t say enough good things about this guy, but Justin Herbert is absolutely incredible. I felt like any sports show I watched this offseason only wanted to talk about the “regression” that was going to take place for Herbert. It was ridiculous and wasn’t warranted then. Herbert has taken every expectation that he had this year and surpassed and quite frankly crushed them. Herbert threw for 398 yards and had 5 total touchdowns and continues his streak of 3 straight games without a turnover.
This is a quarterback-driven league and Herbert is playing as good as any of them on a 4-1 team, that is the exact recipe that it takes to become the MVP. Herbert has now led the Chargers from behind in the 4th quarter in 3 games this season. He is taking all of the demons the Chargers have had all these years and throwing them aside and taking this team to new heights. There’s no reason why Hebert shouldn’t be in the discussion as a top-three MVP candidate.
Brandon Staley is a madman
Three different scenarios, the same result. The Chargers went 3/3 on 4th down and had another one converted from a penalty. They had a 4th and 2 from their own 24! At a time when they were on their own 14 and still had a ton of time left in the third quarter left, it didn’t matter to Brandon Staley. I really do not think there’s another coach in the league that would’ve gone for that, maybe a few but not many. I can confidently say that was the turning point in the game, they converted another 4th down that same possession and eventually scored a touchdown. Staley wasn’t done yet, he’s just as frustrated as fans are about the kicking situation. With them already missing extra points, Staley elected to go for 2 and made it a 6 point game.
Staley is shocking everyone with how relentless he is, he knows the talent he has and puts the game in his best player’s hands to win. He does everything he can for the Chargers to control their own destiny, it is quite literally a complete change compared to what we have been used to in recent years. He lets Hebert dictate the games and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Something has got to give with the Chargers special teams
It’s bad, very bad. It was really starting to feel that Larry Rountree was returning every single kick out to the 15-yard line. With a touchback getting you to the 25 it’s an obvious area that needs improvement. Maybe it’s the past that gets to me but I’m terrified anytime we try and field a punt, that shouldn’t be normal. If there is any takeaway I have had from the first five games this year, it is if they want to have an impact on special teams they need to go and find a new player to return kicks and punts, because I’m not sure there’s anyone on this roster that effectively can do the job.
Ty Long had another fine game punting the ball and has been consistently solid all year, I will give the special teams that. Believe it or not, but that isn’t enough. Tristan Vizcaino had another rough go at it this weekend, missing 2 extra points. The fact that the Chargers have to worry about kicking an extra point is a sign that a change needs to be made. I understand that with a young kicker like Tristan you need to be patient but the Chargers don’t have time to be patient. I would look around for replacement options.
Is this team for real?
Yes, absolutely yes to that. There is so much that goes into being a contender outside talent. The Chargers have shown to be able to play close games and win them, which is huge. They dealt with the most adversity that they’ve come across this year being down 14 and not being able to stop the run. I feel confident in this team because they were able to come back from that. That’s something they wouldn’t have been able to recover from last year.
They have all the weapons you could hope for, playmakers on defense, and an innovative coaching staff. These things will power the Chargers through the year when they are playing in the playoffs. While there was plenty of bad to take from this game, mainly by the defense, there was so much good. They fought through adversity and pulled the win out at the last second.
The Chargers head to Baltimore to take on the Ravens next Sunday in a crucial AFC battle that will have ramifications at the end of the year.
Via Chargers Twitter page