The LA Chargers once again find themselves in a rut offensively. Justin Herbert continues to move the ball well due to his mercurial talent, but Austin Ekeler and the running game have once again failed to provide this offense with the balance they need to be successful.
While Herbert is going to keep the Chargers in most games on his arm alone, the lack of a running game is starting to bite this team in the rear end. For an offensive coordinator in Kellen Moore, who likes to run the ball more than his reputation as an aerial circus conductor would suggest, this is a noteworthy move.
Joshua Kelley has started to see his workload ramp up in the last few weeks, receiving at least 10 carries in each of the last four games. After a surprising gameday activation, the Chargers may be as ready as ever to limit Ekeler's touches and enhance Kelley's role.
The Chargers will have Isaiah Spiller, who has carried the ball just 30 times for 68 yards in two seasons, active against the rival Denver Broncos. This could be taken as a sign that LA is using a more committee-based approach instead of riding Ekeler until the wheels fall off.
LA Chargers could limit Austin Ekeler's workload after Isaiah Spiller move.
While Ekeler is certainly a better receiver and more explosive player than both Kelley and the struggling Spiller, both of those two younger backs can run between the tackles with more verve than Ekeler. If that's what Kellen Moore wants from his backs, Ekeler could see his touches drop.
The Chargers rank near the bottom of the league in most key rushing categories, and Ekeler himself is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. While the 4.0 per carry Kelley has put up isn't that impressive, it certainly exceeds what Ekeler has been doing this season.
Spiller might not necessarily be in for a breakout game against Denver, however. While their laughable start to the season has skewed their defensive stats against them, the Broncos have pulled out a few very impressive wins on the back of a defense that has been aggressive and much more stout up front.
Ekeler will still be a part of LA's gameplan, as he is a much better receiver than any other back the Chargers have (as well as many of their wide receivers). Still, running between the tackles has been an issue for some time with Ekeler, and this move shows the coaching staff is aware of that problem.