Can Chargers Step Up in Herbert vs. Mahomes IV?


NFL Week 2 – It is Mahomes vs. Herbert IV on Thursday evening: time for Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers to actually step up.

That is proper: Walkthrough is breaking out the Roman numerals for the fourth assembly of Herbert’s Chargers and Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas Metropolis Chiefs. (Chad Henne, not Mahomes, began their Week 17 assembly within the 2020 season.) And why not? Mahomes and Herbert rank first and second in DYAR after Week 1, and this can be a marquee matchup that thumbs its nostril on the “Thursday Evening Soccer sux” crowd, which admittedly consists of most of us. We’ll be wanting ahead to it once more in Week 11, and once more twice in 2023, and so forth all through the last decade if we’re fortunate.

Walkthrough can be breaking out the cliches. Step up? WTF does that even imply?

It signifies that it is time for the Chargers to shed their indie cred and go from Subsequent Huge Factor set to reliable Tremendous Bowl contenders.

Oh, you suppose the Chargers are already there? Sorry, Walkthrough missed the half the place they’ve achieved something but. They nearly made the playoffs in 2021, shedding to a Las Vegas Raiders group with no head coach or first-round picks. Certain, they regarded ever-so-plucky doing so. However the Chargers wanted that Week 18 win as a result of they misplaced to the Baltimore Ravens, the New England Patriots, and even the Houston Texans down the stretch. The Chargers beat a couple of good groups in 2021, too, however they had been clearly nonetheless middleweights. Junior middleweights.

However all that has modified this 12 months, proper? Possibly. Khalil Mack appears like a helluva addition. However final week’s 24-19 victory over the Raiders wasn’t precisely a convincing assertion. The Chargers aren’t but residing as much as their billing.

The offense, regardless of Herbert’s brilliance, nonetheless sputters and stalls too typically. Whereas defending a narrowing lead late within the third quarter, the Chargers went via the next collection: Austin Ekeler run, Ekeler run, Herbert scrambling incompletion, punt. Asante Samuel acquired them the ball again with an interception on the aim line, however that simply led to the next collection from the 1-yard line: Ekeler for no acquire, Tre McKitty don’t-wanna-touch-it dropped move, false begin, beneath toss to Ekeler, punt. The protection acquired the ball again once more, and the Chargers mustered a 20-yard drive for a missed subject aim. Lastly, now nursing a five-point lead after a Raiders landing: brief waggle to Mike Williams, brief run by Sony Michel, incomplete slant to a blanketed Williams, punt.

There’s additionally extra short-yardage nonsense afoot. Ekeler acquired stuffed on two completely different third-and-short conversion makes an attempt. Herbert was snuffed on a fourth-down sneak after one among them. The Chargers wanted three move makes an attempt to punch in a 1-yard landing; not damning in any sense, however troubling for a group that strives to redefine fourth-down aggressiveness however all the time appears to have the flawed play dialed up. (Here is a touch, Chargers: Michel is best in short-yardage conditions than he’s making an attempt to bounce exterior on early downs.)

The Chargers offense nonetheless feels someway sub-optimized: too many high-leverage touches scattered amongst gamers reminiscent of McKitty or Jalen Guyton, not sufficient for Keenan Allen (uncertain for Thursday) and Mike Williams; a knack for conserving opponents within the recreation as a substitute of delivering the haymaker. The protection is best with Mack spearheading the move rush, however we have to see extra from their run protection earlier than declaring that downside solved.

As for Herbert? DYAR says he is among the greatest third-year quarterbacks in NFL history. He is +750 to win the 2022 Most Priceless Participant award, as is Mahomes. (Josh Allen is +500.) However it’s time for him to graduate from not one of the Chargers issues are his fault to not one of the Chargers issues actually matter as a result of he is there. That is the Mahomes MVP degree Herbert remains to be aspiring to.

Distinction Week 1 Chargers with the Week 1 Chiefs, a group on the supposed decline that racked up seven touchdowns towards the Cardinals. The Chiefs provided a glimpse of what life with out Tyreek Hill can be like for Patrick Mahomes, and it was fairly darn superior: extra working, extra ball distribution, extra conventionality with none predictability.

The Chiefs have loads of wrinkles of their very own to iron out. However their protection regarded a lot much less leaky towards the Cardinals, and their offense helped their protection with five-minute clock-munching landing drives powered by backup working backs at about the identical time that the Chargers stored going three-and-out so we might see extra of the Davante Adams showcase.

Possibly the Chargers actually are stronger Tremendous Bowl contenders than the Chiefs. However Week 1 simply reaffirmed the sense Walkthrough acquired whereas researching and writing the AFC West chapters for Football Outsiders Almanac 2022: all the Chiefs’ 2021 miscues had been broadcast on nationwide tv and universally dissected, whereas every thing the Chargers did however the Herbert highlights and fourth-down whoopsies had been buried on regional broadcasts till Week 18. And the sportsbooks have the Chiefs +130 to win the AFC West, the Chargers +170.

The Chargers are 1-2 in Mahomes-Herbert matchups: not dangerous for rising challengers dealing with former champions. The 2 Chiefs victories went to extra time. The Chargers victory got here on a Herbert-to-Williams landing with 32 seconds to play in Week 3 of 2021. The ultimate scores of the three video games had been 23-20, 30-24, and 34-28. The rivalry revs up with every matchup. The over of 54.5 appears weak. Thursday evening must be a blast.

Herbert and the Chargers nonetheless have a lot to show. Let’s examine if they’ll go into Arrowhead and are available away with a win to climb to 2-0 within the standings, convention and division. If that’s the case, Walkthrough will hop onto the bandwagon. Till then, they’re simply one other cool band on the aspect stage.

Information and Notes

Fast hitters on trending matters.

Denver Broncos lose Monday Evening Soccer on a 64-yard subject aim try as a substitute of trusting Russell Wilson to transform fourth-and-5.

Nathaniel Hackett donned that Broncos cap and instantly turned John Fox.

Russell Wilson says the 64-yard subject aim try was not the “wrong decision.”

Aaron Rodgers would have parachuted right into a joint session of Congress to sentence it.

Seahawks followers boo Wilson on his return to Seattle.

Glad certainly are those that select to mirror upon good recollections as a substitute of dwelling upon the dangerous.

Jamal Adams suffers knee damage in Monday Evening Soccer win.

Jordyn Brooks to tackle Adams’ function of getting blamed for every thing flawed with the Seahawks protection.

Tom Pelissero of NFL Media studies that Dak Prescott could return from thumb surgery in four to six weeks.

Sean Payton of FOX tv studies that Prescott can be safer sitting out the remainder of the 2022 season and leafing via that binder which was simply FedEx’d to him.

Steelers hope T.J. Watt can return someday this season.

They’re keen to donate Mitch Trubisky’s pectoral muscle groups if it would assist.

Mac Jones is coping with again spasms.

Previous Belichick: No worries! I’ll job Josh with designing refined recreation plans that Bailey Zappe might execute to maintain us aggressive in a pinch. New Belichick: Hmm, this may very well be my excuse to flush this entire season down the drain after which promote my canine to offensive coordinator!

Tom Brady says he awakened feeling sore on Monday.

Sleeping alone will do this to you.

Tennessee Titans Midweek Burn This Play Award

Look, it is robust calling performs for the Tennessee Titans. Derrick Henry can solely accomplish that a lot. And Hahaha Fooled You! It is Ryan Tannehill play-action! solely actually works when opponents aren’t content material to single-cover Robert Woods and Treylon Burks whereas simply letting Henry grind out 4 yards per carry.

So third-and-1 rolls round, the Titans already burned their Henry Wildcat play in an earlier short-yardage state of affairs (he bobbled the snap), and the Giants are able to crash the road and slaughter anybody with a 22 on his jersey. What ought to offensive coordinator Todd Downing name?

Not this. For the love of all that is sacred, not this:

That is fourth-round rookie tight finish Chigoziem Okonkwo on the sweep. Simply the man you need transferring laterally in a short-yardage state of affairs. Left sort out Taylor Lewan is tasked with sealing the sting, however defender Nick Williams blasts previous him and blows up the play, with Tae Crowder and Austin Caitro (no, you are not anticipated to acknowledge a lot of the names on the Giants protection) cleansing up.

The true difficulty is that neither Tannehill nor Henry actually promote the run pretend to the left aspect; any defender keying on Henry’s physique language noticed his first step and thought, “yeah, that dude’s going to get a Gatorade.”

Good luck, Henry and the Titans. You simply misplaced to Blue Rutgers. Hope higher days are coming.

Chicago Bears Midweek Burn This Towel Award

Walkthrough salutes the HERO official who enforced essentially the most obscure rule within the NFL playbook, penalizing the Bears 15 yards and knocking them out of subject aim vary when rookie holder Trenton Gill used a towel to attempt to dry off Soldier Area on Sunday:

Sure, guidelines are guidelines, says a nation which dutifully pays each rushing ticket. The Bears 1 trillion % deserved to lose three potential factors for this felony. However the spotlight right here is Gill making an attempt to dry a muddy patch of grass with a hand towel just like the world’s most formidable barback. It will need to have been like making an attempt to mop up Bourbon Road on Ash Wednesday with a cocktail serviette.

Gill himself defined his heinous deed to ESPN’s Coutney Cronin. “I would by no means accomplished it earlier than, however I by no means performed in a recreation the place it has been rain the entire time, a few inches on the sector,” Gill mentioned. “You noticed on the finish, there was about like 2 inches of water on the sector.” A-plus effort for Gill, who in all probability tried to bail out the ocean with a bucket as a toddler.

No overseas object can be utilized to impression the enjoying floor in any method, in line with NFL guidelines. Gill might have tried to slosh the water away along with his foot with out penalty. He in all probability might have laid down and used his physique as a human squeegee if he thought it might assist. Heck, this is an concept: slip an grownup diaper on underneath the uniform pants, plop down within the puddle the place your anticipated to carry for a subject aim, roll round a bit, pop up wanting just a little thiccer however no worse for put on, have Cairo Santos purchase you dinner after the sport: just a little prime rib could make up for any incremental lack of dignity.

Or, , simply do issues Eighties type:

On second thought, if somebody tried to drive a snowplow onto Soldier Area on Sunday, it might have simply gotten caught within the mud.

Preseason Corridor of Famers: In Memoriam

George Pickens caught one move for 3 yards for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Romeo Doubs caught 4 passes for 37 yards for the Inexperienced Bay Packers, all of them after halftime, when the Vikings led 17-0 and Aaron Rodgers gave Christian Watson a nickel and instructed him to go play in visitors.

Walkthrough favorite Isaiah Seemingly? Zero catches on 4 targets for the Baltimore Ravens.

Walkthrough absolute favorite Dameon “Three Pitbulls” Pierce? Eleven rushes for 33 yards. Not dangerous, however not as many carries or yards as Houston Texans teammate Rex Burkhead.

How out of the blue actuality units in for preseason Corridor of Famers, the fellows we gush about on August weekends. Some actually do shine straight away: Isiah Pacheco was productive in mop-up responsibility for the Chiefs, for instance. All nonetheless have very vivid futures. However a lot of the hype surrounding them was simply the results of how coaching camp information is processed and ingested. They had been new guys to interview. They acquired additional alternatives with starters resting. The fantasy neighborhood weighed in. They started trending, which prompted extra consideration, making a suggestions loop.

However now: actual recreation plans, actual starters, and the rookies are forgotten, not less than quickly, like some summer time fad.

Walkthrough hopes to have an actual cause to speak about all of those rookies once more quickly. For now, we did not need them to fade with no whisper, as a result of it seems like summer time itself disappearing behind autumn’s veil. Good luck, midround rookie legends of August. Particularly you, Pierce. Walkthrough’s acquired prop bets driving on you.

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