Los Angeles Chargers: Backup Quarterbacks To Highlight Week 15 On Thursday Night Football

Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

A longtime rivalry will commence tomorrow night on Thursday Night Football as the Los Angeles Chargers will travel from one Entertainment Capital of the World to another in Sin City to face the Las Vegas Raiders inside Allegiant Stadium.

This is the 128th meeting between the two franchises, dating back to 1960 as the Raiders lead the all-time series, 67-58-2. However, the Chargers have won the previous three meetings, including sweeping Las Vegas last year.

Kickoff, which is slated for 5:15 p.m. on Amazon Prime, features two quarterbacks who were day three draft picks in different years.

The Chargers have Easton Stick under center after the face of the franchise, Justin Herbert, left last week’s game with a finger injury and was later placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season with finger surgery.

Stick, who was drafted by the Bolts a year before Herbert out of North Dakota State in 2019, completed 13-of-24 passes for 179 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in a 24-7 loss against Denver on Sunday.

“When he went into the game, our team believed that he would move the team,” head coach Brandon Staley said on his new starting quarterback Monday. “Our team has been watching him now for three, some of them four years, but they believe in Easton. They know what he can do and I think in the second half, he did some things that we need to build off of for this Thursday night.”

While watching the film from Sunday, preparing for the quick turnaround, Staley said Stick’s best part of his game is the confidence he has in the pocket.

“I think mechanically throwing the football with accuracy,” he said. “He’s really developed that sense of, ‘Hey, this is what my base needs to be. This is where my shoulders need to be.’ Just consistency with his stroke and you saw that (Sunday).

“I thought you saw him really drive the football, throw it with touch, really drive it on some of those in-breaks and there was a tight third-down throw to Keenan (Allen) in a bunch of traffic that I thought was really good.”

However, this comes as Allen is sidelined on Thursday and is out due to a heel injury.

Los Angeles Chargers Backup QB, Easton Stick, About To Make First NFL Start

NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers | Easton Stick
Dec 10, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Easton Stick (2) throws against the Denver Broncos during the second half at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Stick, who is on track to make his first NFL start tomorrow, said he cannot wait to make his long-awaited first start, looking up to current and former Chargers quarterbacks, such as Herbert, Tyrod Taylor, and Philip Rivers.

“This isn’t how I envisioned it, but when they selected me five years ago, this is what you want as a kid, is an opportunity to play and I’m excited for that,” Stick said. “I’ve been here. I’ve watched Justin, obviously, Philip and that’s the standard. It’s really high. Quarterback play has been really good, so just trying to do my best.”

Both the Chargers and Raiders enter Thursday’s matinee at 5-8 records, which are both the worst records in the division as the Broncos are two games ahead and Kansas City is three games up on Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Following the loss to Denver, Staley told his players this is going to be one of those down years because of how the games have prevailed but does not doubt his team can turn things around to finish strong.

“The message after the game is this the tough side of the league,” Staley said. “Sometimes the NFL, you’re going to have seasons like this where a lot happens like it’s happened to us. You need to face it as a team, you need to continue to make adjustments and Justin went out and we needed to make adjustments.”

The Chargers are entering this week facing a Raiders team that did not score a single point in a 3-0 home loss to Minnesota.  

As a result, Raiders Head Coach Antonio Pierce said he is ultimately awaiting to announce his starting quarterback for Thursday’s matchup with Jimmy Garoppolo and Brian Hoyer also on the roster.

Las Vegas Raiders Also Slated To Start Backup Quarterback

Las Vegas is slated to have rookie playcaller Aidan O’Connell in the starting role under interim head coach Antonio Pierce, who took over for Josh McDaniels five weeks ago after the Silver and Black lost to both Chicago and Detroit in back-to-back weeks.

Hours after Pierce took over for McDaniels, he named O’Connell as the starter going forward, replacing Jimmy Garoppolo.

Before O’Connell was officially named the full-time starter against the New York Giants on Nov. 5, the fourth-round pick out of Purdue previously started one game, which came against the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 1 at SoFi Stadium due to an injured Garoppolo.

O’Connell completed 24-of-39 passes for 238 yards and a late interception in a 24-17 win for the Blue and Gold as Chargers defensive end and former Raider Khalil Mack recorded six sacks in the win.

Both running back Josh Jacobs and wide receiver Davante Adams each had eight receptions in the game and Jacobs edged out Adams by six receiving yards, 81-75.

Although Las Vegas recorded wins against both New York teams in Pierce’s first two games as a head coach, the Raiders enter Thursday having lost three straight and five of seven.

Both teams have struggled as of late as the Los Angeles Chargers have lost four of their last five entering tomorrow night.

Despite the struggles, Staley said his team must put a game plan together that is altered because of the injuries that have happened, beyond Herbert.

“When you lose your starting quarterback, you’re going to have to make adjustments,” he said. “You lose some star players like we’ve had throughout the year, you got to make adjustments, so that’s where our focus is on making the adjustments for Thursday.”