Winners And Losers From The Chargers Week Four Victory Over The Browns
The Chargers week 5 victory over the Browns was bar none, the best game of the season so far. It was absolutely electric, showcasing almost 80 total points and over one thousand yards of combined total offense. In a week where the Chargers fumbled three times, gave up 42 points, and more than two hundred yards on the ground, you would have sworn they lost. That’s why teams go run-heavy right? So that they can control the script of the game, win clock management, tire out a defense, and let their defense be the focal point of the game. Unfortunately for the Browns, their defense did not come to play, blowing a two-touchdown lead in the third quarter.
Also, they could have never game planned for what Justin Herbert was about to do to them. You can watch as much film as you like, but the bottom line is that when a quarterback is playing that well, no one can stop him. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers from this wild comeback game.
I go out of my way to keep Herbert out of the winners’ column every week because he could be here every week if we were really being honest. I want to save putting his name in the winners’ column for weeks where he does something truly special, but only according to his standards. Herbert has arrived as an NFL superstar. I don’t know how long you’re supposed to wait or if there is a statistical threshold, but in my opinion, through five weeks, he is your NFL MVP.
When I watch him play, I get the same feeling of magic I get when I watch Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, or Peyton Manning play. You know at the end of the day, they’re the ones in control of the football game. He can make any throw, he’s not afraid to take chances, and he runs the ball when he needs to effectively. There is no part of the quarterback position that Herbert does not execute at a high level. 60% completion percentage, 400 yards in the air, four touchdown passes, and one rushing touchdown. Quarterback rating of 122 and a PFF grade of 83. Have a day kid, the NFL is officially on notice.
After last week’s dud performance, there were some people who thought that maybe the first few weeks’ performances might be a fluke. Heck even I thought about it in the back of my mind, there was no way he could keep up that pace all year right? I was wrong, last week was indeed a fluke. Williams went absolutely bonkers against the Browns in week 5. Williams was targeted SIXTEEN times. Sixteen. At a certain point, you would think the defense would figure out where the football was going. But that just didn’t happen, as Williams also brought in two scores. The worst part of this performance for the Browns? Williams did most of his damage on two home run plays, where the defense was just completely busted. Finding himself wide open for huge scores. Williams is the real deal, and he’s absolutely about to get paid huge.
I mentioned last week that a lot of the media were starting to react to how aggressive Coach Staley had been calling his offense. He hasn’t been putting his guys in a lot of positions where they don’t control their own destiny. Sunday was no different. Dialing up three huge fourth-down plays that were all converted, Coach Staley is trying to position himself as the most aggressive coach in the league. And to be honest, if he hadn’t done it when he did, it felt like the Chargers would be chasing the clock and the Browns all day trying to make a comeback. His aggressiveness keeps paying off every week, and you know his guys love to see it. This isn’t the same squad from last year, it’s clear that Coach Staley has the respect of his men.
I’ve said it for four straight weeks, the Chargers run defense has been extremely underwhelming. I tried to give them credit after last week, when they seemingly fixed some issues against the Raiders. Then they went and got demolished on Sunday.
Through five weeks all we’ve seen them do is give up a mind-boggling 800 yards of offense on the ground, and be the worst rushing defense in the league by a whole 12 yards. The Browns, are the best rushing team in the NFL and they did exactly what they were supposed to do: rushing for 230 total yards as a team. Including 161 from Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt scored twice on the ground and also had his moments of greatness.
Everyone watching knew they were going to keep going back to Chubb every play, and it seemed like he was able to get five or six yards before being touched. The Browns offensive line opened big hole after big hole. There was just simply nothing the Chargers could do about it. If there are people out there still waiting to hit the panic button on the run defense, I don’t know what they’re waiting for.
Vizcaino did his absolute level-best to make sure the Chargers lost this game. He hasn’t been particularly good or bad all season. However, that just simply doesn’t excuse his play on Sunday. He has one job to do for this team, and he wasn’t even called in to take a field goal. Missing one PAT would be bad enough, but he then went on to miss a second PAT when the game should have been tied with 1:37 left in the fourth. That really should have been the end of the game for the Chargers.
The defense was finally able to force the Browns offense to go three and out, and Herbert continued his magical day by leading another touchdown drive – aided by the Browns carrying Austin Ekeler into the endzone.
Long-time fans will have PTSD from the last few years where kickers/special teams killed them late in games. Fingers are crossed that it doesn’t continue the way it has been for the last few years, but so far Vizcaino hasn’t shown that he is the answer.