The Los Angeles Chargers played a disappointing game on all sides of the ball vs. the Kansas City Chiefs in what was an offensive showcase for Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes.
What was a big Week 1 matchup for the Chargers did not live up to their own expectations with an average showing on offense and an even worse showing on defense. And of course, some special teams gaffes as well. What can they take away from this game, and what can they do differently in Week 2? Let’s take a look.
1. They can’t stop Tyreek Hill, and I don’t think any team can.
Stopping Tyreek Hill has proven to be impossible for the defense, as well as the special teams. And we know it was a problem last year as well with all the big plays he pulled off against the Chargers in both games.
I have no solution really. He’s unstoppable. I do believe the punt return was preventable with better punting and tackling, but his big plays on offense were simply too quick. And I’m talking about a good Chargers secondary. Maybe even great. But they can’t catch Hill. And I don’t think anyone can.
I love talking about things the Chargers did bad and can do better the next week or the next time if they play a divisional opponent. But, apart from improving special teams, I’m really not sure what they could do in coverage. He’s just too fast.
2. Drops. A lot of them.
Travis Benjamin had a whole stick of butter on his hands today. Tyrell Williams dropped a huge touchdown prior to the half. When Hill, Mahomes and Kareem Hunt are going off, you can’t miss offensive opportunities. It’s as simple as that. And the Chargers missed a lot of them, primarily in the passing game. It sure ain’t Philip Rivers’ fault. He was putting balls right on the money.
You can’t ask receivers to hold onto every single ball. I get that. But some crucial drops in the first half and some throughout the second half really cost the Chargers points, and it caused them to play from behind almost the entire game. The receiving corps has to have a better week next week, and I expect them to. It’s the only way they’re going to win, regardless of the opponent.
3. Oh just great, Mahomes is really good.
Patrick Mahomes played his first real game Sunday. And he was brilliant. The Chargers failed to get any pressure on him and he played smart football. It does help having a dynamic weapon like Tyreek and a great running game to ease a first season starter, but Mahomes sliced up the secondary and the entire Chargers’ defense.
Maybe the Chargers thought they’d be dealing with a novice after the departure of veteran Alex Smith in the offseason. But he is no novice. He plays above his age, and if the Chargers are going to test him in the second game, they have to put pressure on him. He had all day to throw and it seemed like he couldn’t miss.
4. Special teams, special teams…
They allowed a punt return to Hill, J.J. Jones had a crucial fumble on a return on what could’ve been a drive to keep the Chargers in the game, and Caleb Sturgis missed a field goal from 48 yards due to some sloppy clock management and pressure.
They really ran the gamut of problems today. With an easy KC touchdown off the fumble, a Hill touchdown, and a missed Sturgis field goal, that’s really 17 points given up there. It’s inexcusable. And it feels like we’ve been saying that for… four years now?
If the Chargers want any chance this season, special teams has to be better. Luckily it’s early and the Chargers have a winnable game next week vs. a struggling Buffalo Bills team. But in the long run, this could be a disaster. I don’t think it’ll be quite as bad as last year, but it’s certainly not off to a good start.
5. Give Ekeler more snaps.
Melvin Gordon played well today, but so did Austin Ekeler. The Chargers’ second back was nearly nonexistent in the second half after having a good first half where he caught a touchdown. He got to the Chiefs’ D in the first half and I would’ve liked to have seen more of him in the rest of the game. Ultimately, it probably wouldn’t have changed the game too much, but I do think it makes a lot of sense to feed the hot hand.
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The feeling has to ultimately disappointment with not a lot of good to take away. Rivers, Gordon and Ekeler showed up on offense as well as Keenan Allen late, but there were a lot of missed opportunities on offense in what should’ve been a shoot out. Joey Bosa was missed as the Chargers couldn’t get a lot of pressure vs. KC. The secondary got burned by Hill and there were too many big runs the D-Line could’ve stopped. While not the worst game the Chargers could’ve had, it was an easily winnable one that was given away via the usual suspects-missed offensive chances, Hill and special teams.
The Chargers head to Buffalo for their home opener. The Bills looked absolutely inept this week vs. Baltimore. It should be a win for the Chargers, but there are some big questions to figure out and some imperfections to iron out before Sunday. The secondary should get a rebound against… Nathan Peterman? Josh Allen? It’s looking good for the defense if they can shape up after this week.