It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win in the National Football League. The Chargers struggled on offense under center, but did have some success. It seems like they were trying out some different things that they haven’t really gotten figured out yet. With the new offensive scheme that the Chargers have rolled out, mixed with a new playbook and a modified offseason, the slow start offensively should be expected. Even with some of the mental lapses, there’s a lot to take away from the Chargers win in Cincinnati.
Quarterback Play Leaves a lot to be Desired
Tyrod left some opportunities on the field, but he didn’t turn the ball over and that is really why the Chargers won this game. He went 16 of 30 for 208 yards, which included two drops and two passes thrown away and no touchdowns. Taylor was 1 of 5 for passes over 20 yards. He did take some shots, but put the ball too far outside to come down with inbounds. Part of that is intentional, as Taylor was not giving an opportunity for the ball to be intercepted. Pro Football reference credits him with six bad throws on the day. Taylor’s decision making in run-pass options could have been better as well. He seemed to hold the ball on give reads and his vision as a runner was lacking. Overall, Taylor was the 23rd-ranked quarterback according to PFF with a 60.7 overall grade and a 74.4 passer rating.
Runningback – Rookie Shines and Ekeler Under-utilized
What a game from the rookie, Joshua Kelley! #27 looked powerful running the ball. On his first carry he ran over Germaine Pratt. His third carry was a zone run where he made a cut-back and took off for a 26-yard gain. There was actually a play at the beginning of the 4th-quarter where Kelley made three people miss with a spin in the backfield (all at the same time), turning a two-yard loss into a nine-yard gain. He stayed north and south for the most part, and ran through defenders on contact multiple times this game. Kelley was the 5th-ranked running back this week according to PFF with an overall grade of 75.5. He had 12 attempts for 60 yards rushing and one touchdown. He has earned a bigger role in the offense after just one week.
Austin Ekeler was used much different then people had thought. Ekeler had 19 carries for 84 yards, good of 4.40 yards per carry. Ekeler was fine as a runner, with two carries going over 10 yards. He churned out what yards were available to him, though PFF hid not grade him highly with a score of 57.9. The coaching staff did not have Ekeler game planned much as a pass catcher out of the backfield, where he was ranked second only to Christain McCaffrey last season . He had one catch for three yards against the Bengals. Justin Jackson barely saw the field before he was removed with a hamstring injury.
Hunter Henry and Mike Williams Shine as Pass Catchers
Mike Williams seemed to quiet those who said he would be under utilized in a offense led by Tyrod Taylor. He was targeted eight times and came away with four receptions for 69 yards. He actually had another two catches out of bounds that were spectacular. He did have a drop, but otherwise showed out as a playmaker on the perimeter. He was able to create some separation a few times and showed the ability to make tough grabs even while injured.
Hunter Henry might have had a better day reeling in five catches for 73 yards. Henry fits Tyrod’s play style a bit better and is healthier than he has been in the past. While the pass catching stats gets all the views, Henry also had a great day blocking which helped the run game perform so well. PFF credited Henry with an 86.3 run block grade, which made him the 2nd best run-blocking tight end this week behind Mike Gisicki. He helped spring a few runs that led to long drives.
It was mostly a quiet day for Keenen Allen against the Bengals. Allen was targeted a few times, but made most of his work on short throws. He had a drop and was not a big part of the game plan this week. KJ Hill did get 12 snaps on offense, but was used mostly as a decoy and Reed is limited to special teams as of now. Guyton is easily was the third receiver of this group where he had 47 total snaps on offense and managed a catch for 13 yards.
Offensive Line Gelling Early on.
With Mike Pouncey and Trai Turner sitting out, Dan Feeney moved to center and Forrest lamp took over at guard. The biggest surprise was little known Tyree St. Louis start in place of the injured Turner. The Chargers offensive line did not give up a sack this game and played all 75 snaps without need for replacement due to injury. They gave up a total of 6 pressures. The Chargers moved the pocket around a bit and the Bengals primarily looked to contain Taylor and make him beat them with his arm.
Lamp was the highest graded Chargers offensive lineman according to PFF where he earned a 78.6 overall grade and allowed only one pressure. He did give up a hit with that pressure where he allowed a blitzing linebacker to get a lick on Tyrod. He seemed to gel well with Dan Feeney at center and had a decent day in the run game. Feeney excelled in pass pro as well earning a 84.2 PBLK grade. The bigger issue was Tyree St. Louis who has not settled in much in pass protection. He did seem to have a mean demeanor in the run game, but he was easily the worst offensive lineman this game.
No one would have guessed that Sam Tevi would have a good day. He really benefitted from the Chargers moving the pocket around and making use of his athleticism. He allowed two pressures, but overall played solid. Bryan Bulaga on the other end had a decent day as well. It looks like the addition of James Campen is really paying off for the entire offensive line.