Winners And Losers From The Chargers Week Three Victory Over The Chiefs
The Los Angeles Chargers Week 3 win against the Chiefs was a thrilling, landmark early-season win for a team trying to gain their confidence. There is no better feeling in the world for Charger fans than beating the Kansas City Chiefs. Their vaunted offense, lead by Patrick Mahomes himself is so terrifying it has led teams to change the way they gameplan beating the Chiefs. It’s clear that Brandon Staley took a page out of the Raven’s game plan from last week to find success.
The Chargers focused on limited the Chiefs explosive plays and were hyper-aggressive on offense – just like the Ravens before them. The secondary held Tyreek Hill to just 56 yards receiving and forced the Chiefs to turn the ball over four times. The Chargers’ offense also clicked on all cylinders Sunday, scoring four touchdowns in the red area.
This team, and its fans, have to be proud of themselves. They’ve now set a high bar to live up to thanks to this kind of victory, which should set the tone for the rest of the season. There isn’t a whole lot to complain about when you beat arguably the best team in the league, especially on the road, but let’s take a look at the winners and the losers for the week.
Three weeks, three straight appearances on the winners’ lists for Williams. At the behest of repeating myself, I’m going to keep this portion short. Whether it’s finally being healthy for the first time, an increase in target share, or simply motivation to prove that he is worth the $15 million price tag that people laughed at, Williams has been an absolute stud. He is making chunk play after chunk play to the tune of 122 yards in the air in this game, with a scintillating 17.4 yards per catch rate. Williams caught two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. While Keenan Allen did lead the team in targets, it’s clear that Williams’ big play-making ability and size is a combination that has made him the most productive receiver on the team through three weeks. He is definitely earning that potential pay raise right now.
The Chiefs have the best offense in the NFL – or at least the most talented – that’s not much of a surprise to anyone. What is surprising though, is when a defense is able to shut down that vaunted offense. Mahomes did find success for 3 touchdowns in the air, but with the two picks and limit of the explosive plays, that’s about as good a day anyone could have hoped for. While certain members of the national media are trying to discredit the Chargers defense for those interceptions, the reality is they both required some high-level play from the Chargers defenders – be it Alohi Gilman, Asante Samuel Jr, or the players who forced Mahomes into pressure – and they deserve a lot of credit for it.
Joey Bosa and the rest of the pass rush got after Mahomes and did a fantastic job keeping him inside the pocket, for the most part. However, members of the Chargers secondary were glued to the Chiefs receivers all day long and capitalized on several of the mistakes made by Mahomes and company.
Holding Hill to 56 yards is not an easy feat. His game-breaking ability that allows the Chiefs to score in a matter of seconds is a total death sentence for teams at times. Not only did he not get it done for a ton of yardage or plays, but Tevaughn Campbell was also able to force a fumble on Hill as well which really swung momentum the Chargers way.
Travis Kelce on the other hand was a different story, but it’s impossible to shut him down completely. He’s the middle of the field safety net for the best quarterback in football and he’s absolutely massive. He’s going to get his, but outside of a couple of big gains when Derwin James was out of the game, I thought the Chargers defenders (namely Michael Davis) played Kelce rather well.
All spring and summer long, we heard a lot of people how Brandon Staley was going to be aggressive and play to win. That he was going to be using analytics and data at a much higher frequency than the previous staff. Both of these things sound great on paper but given the Chargers’ history, I was a bit skeptical and wanted to see it come to fruition before fully buying in first.
It has only been three games, and while that is a small sample size I am more than ready to buy the hype now, as Staley showed plenty of resolve against the former Super Bowl Champions. Dialing up big shots down the field, Staley constantly found the offense bailing the team out of poor situations. To beat teams like the Chiefs, you have to stay aggressive on offense and not let Mahomes have the ball back.
While he initially sent out the field goal unit on fourth down at the end of the game, he decided to go for it after a timeout and a quick conversation with Justin Herbert. A false start penalty meant they were likely out of field goal territory and firmly in punting territory, however, Staley stuck to his guns and went for it. Chiefs fans will argue the defensive pass interference penalty is the story, but this is about the process for the Chargers and not the result. Staley could have easily punted and trusted his defense, just like we saw Anthony Lynn do last year against the Chiefs in Herbert’s debut. Instead, Staley and Herbert were aggressive all the way to the end, and they won the game.
Some Chargers fans and media members are preaching patience when it comes to the Chargers run defense. I, however, do not agree. I said it after each of the last two weeks that the run defense was absolutely horrible, and against the Chiefs, the story stayed the same.
This defensive line was absolutely horrible, with the Chiefs pretty much knew that every time they handed the ball off to Edwards-Helaire or another back they were guaranteed around five yards a pop. That can’t happen anymore. Staley’s defense is designed to dare teams to take the short gains in the run game, and in the passing game, and the Chiefs methodically moved the ball down the field pretty much at will.
That kind of success in a run game can a backbreaker for the soul of a defense. It keeps the ball in the offense’s hands so much longer and allows the other team to control the pace of play. Kenneth Murray played so poorly he had to be benched down the stretch for Drue Tranquill, which is fair as Tranquill has earned himself a lot more playing time. Kyzir White also missed some very uncharacteristic tackles. Key contributors Uchenna Nwosu and Jerry Tillery were abysmal. The run defense is a significant problem for the Chargers, particularly with upcoming matchups against the Browns and Ravens.
The Chargers are playing a dangerous game as they get further and further into the season. They are the most penalized team in the league, and while it didn’t necessarily cost them in this game, it has taken three touchdowns off the board. They aren’t going to get four turnovers from the Chiefs next time they play so avoiding potential backbreaking mistakes is paramount.
If they do not clean up this issue, these penalties will eventually catch up to them and cost them another ball game. The margin for error in the NFL is razor-thin. In particular, against teams that can score at will like the Cowboys and Chiefs, you have to play clean games. This has to be one of the main objectives for Staley and the rest of his staff/players from here on out.