Game Overview ::
By hilow >>
- These two teams combine to run a play every 25.6 seconds, by far the fastest expected pace from a game this season.
- Austin Ekeler did not practice Wednesday and head coach Brandon Staley somewhat quietly told reporters during Monday Night Football that there is “no timeline” for his eventual return. If reading the tea leaves here, that tells me Ekeler won’t return until likely Week 4 or 5.
- Eric Kendricks, one of the top free agent additions to the LAC defense this offseason, remained a DNP on Wednesday with a hamstring injury.
- Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are quietly back-to-back in league-wide rankings of the percentage of the team’s air yards this season. Keenan has seen 19 targets and Williams has seen 18.
How los angeles Will Try To Win ::
The Chargers have played with pace (25.9 seconds per play ranks sixth in the league this year) but have been one of the most dynamic and fluid offenses in the league, hammering the run game against Vic Fangio’s Cover-3 defense in Week 1 and shifting to an extremely pass-heavy offense against the stout run defense of the Titans in Week 2. But this was always theorized to be the case after the team ditched former offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and replaced him with Kellen Moore this offseason. We’ve talked about what that shift in philosophy was likely to mean for this offense dating all the way back to our exploration in the team breakdowns for the Best Ball + product back in April. In this spot, against a Vikings defense that ranks near the bottom of the league in rush EPA allowed, I expect we see a more run-balanced offense through Joshua Kelley (assuming Ekeler is out, which appears likely at this time). Even in a run-balanced approach in Week 1 against the Dolphins, quarterback Justin Herbert attempted a healthy yet unspectacular 33 passes, with 19 of those targets flowing through Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Ekeler.
Kelley was on the field for a borderline elite 79 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 2 without Ekeler, which should give us a solid idea of what his usage will look like against an opponent they should be able to attack on the ground. Back in Week 1 in a similar spot, Ekeler and Kelley combined for 32 attempts for 208 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and 47 yards on six targets through the air. Kelley is unlikely to see 30+ running back opportunities here, but 22-24 is well within his range of outcomes and comes in a good spot. Elijah Dotson appears to have passed Isaiah Spiller on the depth chart in the backfield, playing nine offensive snaps in Week 2 to just four for Spiller. From a macro perspective, the Chargers ran 81 offensive plays from scrimmage in a Week 1 shootout with the Dolphins and 68 in Week 2 against the pace-down Titans, meaning an expectation of 75+ offensive plays considering the pace-up nature of each of these offenses is a valid conclusion.
As discussed above, the bulk of the volume through the air in this offense flows through three spots – Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and the running backs. Kelley is not on the same level as a guy like Ekeler when it comes to pass-catching abilities, meaning we could see another game where the bulk of the aerial work is fed through Allen and Williams. Allen currently sports a solid 27.1 percent team target market share with a solid-for-him 11.7 aDOT, while Williams sports a 25.7 percent team target market share and modest-for-him 8.4 aDOT. Quentin Johnston ceded work to some dude named Derius Davis in Week 2, dropping from a 27 percent snap rate in Week 1, to 15 percent in Week 2. If you followed my work in Best Ball, this should not come as a surprise. The Chargers have continued to operate a tight end rotation primarily between Gerald Everett and Donald Parham Jr., with the former seeing the bulk of his work between the 20s and the latter being utilized at a heavier rate in the red zone. Neither provides a bankable profile on what amounts to an expectation of around 50 percent of the offensive snaps. The highly concentrated nature of this pass offense provides paths to upside even if the Chargers adopt a more run-balanced nature in this spot.