In what was an unexpected loss for the LA Chargers on Sunday, Austin Ekeler was again an elite dual threat back. Here’s his grade for the game.
The LA Chargers did not play their best game in a 21-16 loss to the Carolina Panthers. However, we did get to see Austin Ekeler have his best game of the season and it was very encouraging to watch him perform at such a high level.
Ekeler had only 12 carries, but got 59 yards (averaging out to 4.9 yards per carry) and one touchdown with the small sample size. That would be a lackluster game if Ekeler was not the elite pass catcher we know him to be. In the air, Austin Ekeler had 11 receptions on 11 targets, for 84 yards. Altogether, that is 143 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown on the day.
For his game grade, I think Austin Ekeler deserves a solid A. That may be confusing given I just said all those wonderful things about him, but let me explain myself. I’m certain you will agree with me as always.
Breaking down Austin Ekeler’s A grade:
Ekeler had fantastic numbers for the day, that is undeniable. He has really shown that he is an elite running back and wide receiver packed into that absolutely shredded 5’10”, 200 pound frame of his. Along with that, the LA Chargers have really been able to balance the workload of both Ekeler and fourth round pick Joshua Kelley this season, creating a pretty exciting tandem in the backfield.
Austin Ekeler is looking pretty amazing as a receiver because Justin Herbert knows he is always an option when he can’t find an open receiver quickly or the pocket collapses. Week 1, he was not used enough. Week 2, he was used more in the air, and he did very well with those targets. Week 3, he was great both on the ground and in the air. Likely the second best player on the LA Chargers offense, they must continue to give him opportunities to make plays.
The one complaint one can make about Ekeler’s game on Sunday is fairly obvious, and I would not even say I’m upset with him. I just know it is a play he could and should make happen consistently. The hook and ladder to win the game would have worked. Ekeler was expecting the ball, and just could not come up with it for whatever reason. It brings him from an A+ to an A because it brought the LA Chargers from 2-1 to 1-2. Ekeler is too good to not make that play, and I am sure he knows that.
Austin Ekeler was not the only reason the LA Chargers could not come out of that game with a win. Yes, he made a mistake. Mistakes happen. The goal is to clean them up, and come out ready to play a great game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday.