Chargers formula vs. Bears: Austin Ekeler and Russell Okung
Step 2: More Austin Ekeler
The Chargers’ offense simply is more efficient when Austin Ekeler is the lead running back. The stats bear it out with the running game averaging just 35 yards per game since Melvin Gordon made his return. Even in a limited capacity last week due to Gordon getting the carries, everyone saw Ekeler being a force in the receiving game, attempting to drag the Chargers back into the game vs. Tennessee single-handedly.
Ekeler isn’t perfect. His yards per attempt, while higher than Gordon’s, still aren’t impressive at 3.6. But the offense just finds a way with him on the field and always looks more likely to actually get downfield.
It’s debatable as to who’s a better running back between Gordon and Ekeler overall, but it’s not a debate as to who’s playing better right now. The Chargers need to be able to take advantage of a Bears defense that’s allowing oodles of yards and touchdowns to running backs over the last two weeks, and that involves giving Ekeler the ball way more than he’s been getting it over the last month.
Step 3: A potential boost from Russell Okung
The offensive line wasn’t particularly great at pass blocking when the year started. The loss of key pieces like Mike Pouncey and most recently Forrest Lamp for the rest of the season due to injuries feels like a deathblow.
Russell Okung will play this week though, so the bleeding may at least temporarily stop. Okung won’t save the line himself, but having a guy with his type of leadership and ability can be a stabilizing force, especially in a week where they have to go against the vaunted Bears defensive line.
Sam Tevi might end up still being somewhat of a liability in the scheme of the offensive line, but not having to worry about Trent Scott as much though is undeniably an advantage. Okung may not be at full health, but any spark the Chargers can get on the offensive line is needed.