Spy the quarterback
One would have thought that after Joe Burrow waltzed into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown run, the LA Chargers would have remembered to account for a quarterback’s ability to run. But it seems Gus Bradley has no interest in stopping quarterbacks who can run. Patrick Mahomes can beat you with his arm, but you just can’t let him beat you with his legs.
The Chargers may be one of the best teams in stopping Mahomes, but he kept picking up crucial first downs on the ground on Sunday. He ran to the tune of 54 yards in 6 carries. It was reminiscent of how he did the same thing in Mexico City, where he ran for 59 yards in just 5 carries.
Fortunately for the Chargers, they will face mostly immobile quarterbacks in their next slate of games. Teddy Bridgewater was a runner before his career-changing knee injury, but now his carries are limited almost exclusively to kneel-downs and short scrambles.
After that, they face Tom Brady and Drew Brees back to back. That may keep the problem at bay, but if they keep leaving the middle of the field completely open during crucial third downs, any one of those three quarterbacks will take advantage and run for a first down.
Even after the New Orleans Saints’ embarrassing defeat against the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football, they still are a force to be reckoned with. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers just won their first game this season, and may finally have both Chris Godwin and Mike Evans fully healthy at last.
The Panthers may look like a pushover without Christian McCaffrey, but anything can happen in the NFL. If you give these NFC South teams the opportunity to prolong drives in such an easy way, they will make the Chargers pay for it.