The Chargers lost to the defending Super Bowl Champs, but they led the game all the way up to overtime. On offense, the Chargers 3rd-down conversion rate was 6-13 (46%) and they converted on one of two 4th-down tries. The one they didn’t convert was head-scratching, because the team had a 4th-and-5 situation in field goal position early in the game. Anthony Lynn chose to go for it instead of taking the points. The team had 27 first downs, split evenly with 13 rushing plays and 14 passing plays.
The Chargers offense did not struggle moving the ball most of the game and largely won the time of possession battle (39:27-28:38). Anthony Lynn said in his post-conference interview this was a key to his game plan. The offense as a whole looked much better under Justin Herbert and the play calling seemed more creative. In the end, the Chargers struggled to push the football in overtime and decided to try and let their defense win the game.
Justin Herbert Shines in Rookie Debut
Justin Herbert was told minutes before kickoff that he was going to start when Tyrod Taylor suffered a collapsed lung for a pain killer shot that went into his ribs too deep. Without taking starter reps all week, Herbert was not exactly prepared to take on the Super Bowl Champs, but he stepped up in a way nobody expected. Herbert went 22 of 33 with 311 yards passing and a touchdown. He also had four rushes for 22 yards to go with a rushing touchdown as well.
Herbert had some mistakes that he will need to clear up. For one, he had the interception near the red zone in the 3rd quarter that could have helped put the Chiefs away. He also took some unnecessary sacks and opened himself up to contact more often then you would like to see from a team who is already down a quarterback. Otherwise, he showed great accuracy with ball placement and showed improved anticipation. Herbert gave Charger fans a taste of his talent and what the future could hold with increased development.
Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson becoming leagues best 1-2 Punch
Austin Ekeler was the only running back in the NFL who scored a PFF grade of over 90.0. He had 16 attempts for 93 yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Ekeler also came alive as a receiver with four catches for 55 yards. Whether through air or ground, the Chiefs struggled to tackle Ekeler who avoided 11 total tackles and earned an elusive rating of 250.9 from PFF. Joshua Kelley is becoming weapon to the Chargers and out touched Ekeler. He had 23 attempts for 64 yards with an average of 2.8 yards per carry. He also caught both of his targets with 49 yards on the ground. Kelley played downhill again for the second week and was able to churn out hard yards between the tackles.
Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry Make Big Plays
Keenen Allen came alive in week 2 where he was targeted 10 times by Justin Herbert. He had seven catches for 96 yards. Allen played exceptionally catching screens and getting up field. He had a strong grab on the most impressive throw by Herbert that was dropped in a bucket between two defenders. The other player who excelled for the second week in a row was Tight End Hunter Henry. Henry caught six of his eight targets for 83 yards. He seems to be the most vital receiving target on a consistent basis. His specialty seems to be finding the soft spot between zones. Guyton and Mike Williams did not play vital roles and were used primarily as blockers, though Guyton did catch a score. Joe Reed did get an end around that was a Virgil Green block away from a 50-yard score.
Interior Lineman becoming the Heart of the Run Game
The Chargers ran the football 44 times for a total of 183 yards and the strength of that running game lies at the offensive line. Dan Feeney looks natural playing Center and the tandem of Feeney and Forrest Lamp together looks promising. Mixed with Trai Turner, and the interior of this offensive line is getting push at the line of scrimmage, which is why there’s been so much success in back to back weeks.
Sam Tevi has been a strong run blocker in the zone-run scheme, but he struggled more this week in pass protection. While he did not allow any sacks, he did draw a holding penalty when a Chiefs Defensive end ran him over on an incomplete pass to Keenan Allen in the end zone. Bryan Bulaga missed most of the game, though it is only a bone bruise. The player who struggled the most was Trey Pipkins at right tackle. Pipkins was unable to get push in the run game and had mistakes against the pass. He looked much better than his rookie season, but he had issues winning his matchups. Still, his progress looks better from last season.
Overall, the offensive line was not at fault for any sacks against a stout Chiefs Defensive Line. Chris Jones made some plays from his defensive tackle position, but overall was largely contained.