Jaylen Watson's pick-6 is on Brandon Staley, not Justin Herbert

Last night time’s Chargers-Chiefs sport was incredible, a show of two of one of the best younger skills within the sport at quarterback. Ultimately, the Chiefs walked away with the 27-24 victory, proving that the street to an AFC West title nonetheless runs via Kansas City.

The turning level within the sport was rookie Jaylen Watson’s 99-yard interception return TD. This was the third interception thrown by Herbert in 5 video games in opposition to the Chiefs. It was a relatively inaccurate throw that actually by no means ought to’ve been made. So, how did it occur? Chargers head coach Brandon Staley (with a touch of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi) was performing ridiculously, that’s how.

Keep in thoughts, this was first and objective on the Kansas City three-yard line. What does Staley draw up? A play-action look to Herbert’s weak facet in opposition to a six-man field. Interesting determination. Generally, I wouldn’t be too upset with this, however Staley made no effort to ascertain the run previous to this play, and that’s why no person, and I imply no person, fell for the pretend to Austin Ekeler. All of Arrowhead Stadium knew Ekeler wasn’t getting the ball.

Remember the Chargers’ first landing drive? After the massive go to Mike Williams, what did the Chargers do? An influence run with the newly-acquired Sony Michel. It didn’t work, however on the very subsequent play, they went play-action left to fullback Zander Horvath vast open within the flat. The first play arrange the second play, and compelled the protection to respect the Chargers going again to Michel. Instead, Herbert pulled it again and located a wide-open receiver. That’s good play-calling. On the interception, the Chargers had gone 4 straight first downs with out working the ball. In that span, they ran a complete of 13 performs. Only two have been runs.

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The Chiefs had no purpose to respect the run, so the pretend to Ekeler was about as efficient as G.O.B. Bluth displaying a sleight of hand trick — illusion, Michael! — to David Copperfield. Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay didn’t fall for the pretend in any respect. He ran straight via Ekeler, who tried to set a block however failed, and on to Herbert, and not using a second thought. Gay’s presence pressured a foul throw from Herbert and obscured the previous Rookie of the Year’s imaginative and prescient, inflicting the errant throw into the arms of Watson.

I perceive Staley’s hesitance to run the ball on the objective line with out All-Pro heart Corey Linsley, who left the sport at halftime with a knee injury, however you’ve AUSTIN EKELER! The man had 20 touchdowns final season and is well-regarded as among the finest backs within the league. Hell, he was simply ranked the sixth-best halfback in the league by the players. If you don’t belief heart Will Clapp to open a spot, no less than belief Ekeler to discover a new one or comply with left deal with Rashawn Slater into the top zone. Ekeler is understood for having the ability to combat for additional yards. In 2021, he averaged 15.8 rushing attempts per broken tackle, higher than the likes of Derrick Henry (21.9), D’Andre Swift (16.8), Leonard Fournette (16.4), and Ezekiel Elliott (26.3). Give him the rattling ball! At the very least, giving Ekeler the ball not solely offers your finest short-yardage participant the chance to make a play on the objective line, however would make play-action all of the more practical on the subsequent two performs. Even if Ekeler had misplaced two or three yards, possibly play-action on second down would’ve pressured Gay to assume twice earlier than shifting towards Herbert. That split-second determination would’ve alleviated a few of the strain on the Chargers quarterback, and Gay wouldn’t have been up in Herbert’s face when he made the throw. That’s all of the distinction on this planet.

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I’m not saying a run with Ekeler was by far one of the best play in that state of affairs. It’s the objective line. Mike Williams had been having his means with the Chiefs DBs all night time. He’s larger and stronger than anybody the Chiefs might’ve placed on him. A back-shoulder fade would’ve been an awesome name as effectively. It’s a lot safer than an out route in opposition to man protection on first down. At worst, the Chiefs intercept the ball, however it’s extremely unlikely the nook who made the hypothetical choose would’ve been in a position to get out of the top zone. Of course, that’s a worst-case state of affairs. Best case? Williams continues to Moss his defenders like he’d been doing all night time. I discover the latter state of affairs more likely. Instead, the Chargers opted to come back out in a decent 11-personnel bundle, stopping Herbert from making a throw like that. Williams was too near the middle to pressure a 1-on-1 state of affairs. Just an terrible name all-around.

Staley out-coached Andy Reid within the first half. However, the place Reid made defensive changes, swapping to extra Cover 2 and zone blitzes to forestall massive performs to Williams, the Chargers’ offense couldn’t regulate. They did not make the most of Ekeler till rubbish time, and did not get Williams concerned. The interception was clearly not a great throw, however Staley did his quarterback no favors with how he arrange that play.

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