Winners And Losers From The Chargers Week Nine Win Against The Eagles
There is no such thing as an easy win in the NFL. Every week is a group of professionals who take pride in their work, competing against another group of equally proud men. By the beginning of this game, the Chargers had begun to feel less like the division leaders they are, and possibly a little flukier after brutal losses to the Ravens and Patriots.
Week 9 though, was a reminder that maybe this team is different. Not from some of the problems that have plagued them over the last few years, or even throughout this season. But rather the culture that has been around this football franchise for a while. Week 9 saw the continuation of the reversal of that trend. Good teams lose football games, you hate to see them lose in a fashion that feels like they weren’t even competitive. But everyone has bad weeks. The Chargers didn’t let the last two games phase them, and they found a way to gut out an ugly win. That’s exactly the type of win you need to remind yourself that you can get the job done, even when you’re not at your best.
By no means was this a pretty game, as the Chargers left points on the board and let the Eagles get a lot closer than they would have hoped for. Nonetheless — fans and the Chargers should be proud they didn’t let this game slip away. That’s exactly what you want to see when you’re trying to figure out if your team is a true contender. Let’s take a look at the Chargers’ winners and losers from their victory against the Eagles in week 9.
Short Passing Game
A lot of facets on the passing game were sharp on Sunday, but not in the same big-play explosiveness we know the Chargers can come up with. This type of sharpness is a more clinical variety that makes you believe they don’t need huge sexy plays to be effective. Because everyone did their part to make the machine move. Herbert was brilliant, completing 32 out of 38 of his passes for 356 yards and a score on the ground. In a game where he threw almost forty times, he managed to only have six passes go incomplete.
Not only that but when the Chargers’ run game was not producing Herbert found a way to make key plays with his legs. Whether it was the touchdown run or fourth down, he’s a young kid who’s already a star in the NFL.
Now for his receivers — Herbert’s tight ends were special in this game. Not that any one of them was overwhelmingly great, but they kept finding ways to get open and gave Herbert safety valves. They gashed the defense through the middle of the field and exposed the Eagles linebackers totaling a net 11 catches, 126 yards, 2 touchdowns, and a two-point conversion. Donald Parham also had no business making that catch on the sideline, double-covered by Darius Slay after he bobbled the ball. Not bad for a tight-end group that let Hunter Henry walk this past offseason.
Keenan Allen was excellent in this game as well, with 12 catches for 104 yards. While he didn’t have any real big plays or find the end zone, he was highly effective. Constantly finding routes, and space in the middle of the field for short quick plays. While Mike Williams wasn’t a big part of the day that lacked explosive plays, he did have a 49-yard catch that proved that the play-action fake for the underneath ball was working as it was intended to. The passing offense was clicking on all cylinders, despite not getting a lot of breaks.
Rashawn Slater has become one of the best left tackles in all of football. We’re not looking at him on a rookie scale either, rather he’s the 6th best rated left tackle in the NFL according to PFF. That would be incredibly impressive for anyone to step up and do, much less a guy who hasn’t had a full season in the NFL. He’s been overlooked in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race, and that is an absolute shame. He could have been mentioned over the last few weeks as he was given a lot of credit on how he handled All-Pro Myles Garrett, but you know it’s time to talk about how he’s playing when he starts trending on Twitter. You can check out the clip of him absolutely man-handling Genard Avery as he basically helps Herbert easily walk into the end zone. The Chargers have the base of the future of their offensive line solidified in Slater.
I’ve been tough on the Chargers’ run defense all year, and I’m going to stand behind that. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to themselves or to you. You don’t become the worst in the league at something through half the season, because there might be “a few holes to patch”. Nope, the worst in the league means you need a complete overhaul.
To me, I believe that the reason the defense can’t figure it out on the ground is because they just don’t have the personnel to move from a 4-3 to a 3-4. It’s not hard to imagine Coach Staley had success last year with the Rams defense when he had tackle like Aaron Donald. With that said though, I do think the Chargers’ run defense was better this week.
Linval Joseph looked five years younger, piling up 7 tackles on the day with a grade of 85.2. Even Kyzir White was better than he had been in the last couple of weeks, with 6 tackles and a pressure. He was the Chargers best-rated defender on the day.
All of that said though, the Chargers still stunk on run defense as a unit. Joey Bosa, Justin Jones, Derwin James, Nasir Adderley, and Drue Tranquill were putrid. All of them came in under a 60 PFF grade on run defense for the day. The Eagles racked up 176 yards of offense on the ground and 2 scores. It felt like play after play, anytime the Eagles were struggling to move the ball Jalen Hurts was able to find some room on the edges to eek out a first down.
Not only that but Boston Scott and Jordan Howard kept finding quick four-yard hitters up the gut to keep the ball out of the Chargers’ hand. They were able to keep the game a lot closer than it should have been, simply through ball control and extending drives. There is no simple fix this season. It can’t happen. The personnel on this squad isn’t meant to fit this scheme, they’ll have to retool in the offseason and see what adjustments they can make. In the meantime, just be thankful that all the power-run teams on their schedule are officially gone.
Chris Harris has been a consummate professional for a lot of years in the NFL, and he’s been about average this season for the Chargers. This Eagles pass attack is really mediocre, and for the most part, they were held in check. The Eagles found more yardage on the ground than they did in the air. This is strange in a lot of ways, but we won’t get into that today.
Whatever meager yardage they could find in the air though, was because of DeVonta Smith. Smith has been middle of the pack this year, just like Harris. But on Sunday, that was not the case. Harris got repeatedly torched by the rookie, which led to his best game of the season with 116 yards and a touchdown. He also gave up a total of 80 yards to all receivers. The secondary and Harris have been better than expected all season, but in Week 9 Chris Harris was a liability. Every time the Eagles needed a play downfield, you knew it was going to be Harris chasing him down after the mistake. He’ll have to be better as the season goes along, and he has the track record that says he will.