Joshua Kelley has been one of the best stories on the LA Chargers this season. After struggling mightily in the first two years of his career, many fans (ourselves included) wrote Kelley off and expected his Chargers career to come to a close.
After all, he had one less year under contract than Larry Rountree, who was drafted under Brandon Staley's regime. Kelley was on the outside looking in heading into training camp and everything he has done since has proved his doubters wrong.
Kelley looked like the most polished back during camp, continued with a strong preseason, and beat Rountree out for a roster spot. His rise was delayed by the team signing Sony Michel and continuing to give him hand-offs, which was extremely frustrating. Every time Kelley touched the ball good things happened.
The Chargers finally leaned into that in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns as Kelley carried the ball 10 times for 49 yards, picking up another 33 receiving yards. It looked like the coaching staff had finally realized that Michel was not the answer, as he carried the ball just one time. Heading out of that game, it appears that Kelley is here to stay as the RB2.
Chargers fans should be rooting for more and more Joshua Kelley.
Obviously, Austin Ekeler has had himself two insane games the last two weeks and the LA Chargers do not want to stop that momentum at all. Ekeler has bounced back after a slow first three weeks and once again looks like one of the best running backs in the league.
But Kelley should still get his chances, especially with Ekeler's long-term health in mind. The more the team can succeed with Ekeler on the sideline the better as it will keep him fresh for the games that really matter later in the season.
The one thing that is for certain is that the team should not be giving snaps to Sony Michel. Michel has been extremely inefficient this season both running the ball and in the passing game. The Chargers cannot stress a mantra of competition in one breath, but simply give Michel snaps in the other.
Kelley picked up 82 yards from scrimmage in only 12 touches per game. As he continues to produce at this high level (averaging 6.8 yards per touch, keep in mind), he should continue seeing his total number of touches go up and up.
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If he continues this same level of productivity but can do it in 18-20 touches per game, then it will add an entirely new wrinkle to this Chargers offense.