By Cameron Buford, Whatsgoodinsports.com
In Week 2 of this new season, the Chargers welcomed in their division rivals who also happened to be last season’s division winner, Kansas City Chiefs into the brand new SoFi Stadium. Defending their home turf against the NFL Champions will be a tough task, though their game plan of limiting turnovers and getting takeaways will serve them well. This was the 120th time these teams have matched up against each other, though KC leads the matchup 63-55-1 the Chargers have a home record of 31-27-1.
In Week 1 against the rookie quarterback Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals, the Chargers did hold the Bengals to under 200 net yards passing. Their defense will be severely challenged by last season’s Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and that explosive Chiefs offense, which scored 3 touchdowns on over 200 yards passing vs the Houston Texans in Week 1. In 8 road games, last season Mahomes scored 16 touchdowns last season with a rating of 107.8.
The Chargers defense limited the Bengals to 13 points last week, by allowing only 4.40 yards per play, which ranked them 4th in the league after one week. A couple of players on this Chargers defense are embarking on significant milestones, Defensive End Melvin Ingram needs 1 sack to reach 50 for his career, which would make him the 4th Charger to reach that mark.
Head Coach Anthony Lynn was asked about if he thought it was the most critical for them to stop the Chiefs running or game or their passing game, “I don’t know if can stop them, but we certainly want to slow them down.” Defensive End Joey Bosa reached 42.0 sacks in his career, did his part to slow them down by getting his first sack of Mahomes on Sunday. This sack would tie Bosa for the 5th most by a player in the first 53 games of his career since 1990.
Coming into the game on Sunday the Chiefs Patrick Mahomes 13-1 (.929) was as a starter vs AFC West opponents. He was 9-0 with 28 pass TD and 0 INT in his career in the month of September. All that being said, the Chargers defense was up for the tough tasks of slowing down this potent offense, as they held Mahomes to 6 points in the first half of their Week 2 matchup, which was the lowest point total of his young career.
The oddest part of this game came just after the coin flip when Head Coach Anthony Lynn was informed that starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor was enduring chest pains and was taken to the hospital. That meant the sixth pick of the recent NFL draft Justin Herbert would be thrust into the starting quarterback role for the Chargers. Outside of a couple of expected rookie mistakes, Justin Herbert became the first player with 1+ pass TD and 1+ rush TD in the first half of his NFL debut since 1954 (Bob Clatterbuck).
As the Chargers defense limited the Chiefs, their offense continued to make history. Veteran Wide Receiver Keenan Allen surpassed, Hall of Fame Running Back, LaDainian Tomlinson (530) to become the 4th leading receiver in team history. Additionally, Austin Ekeler has surpassed Bo Roberson (1,695) for the most rec yards by an undrafted RB in their first 4 seasons in NFL history.
Despite leading the Chiefs in every statistical category, the Chargers gave up 1 to many explosive plays on Sunday. Tyreek Hill’s 54 yard TD catch gave him 43 TD’s of his career, which is the most among wide receivers since he entered the league. He now also has 22 TD’s of 40+ yards which ties him for 5th most in the first 5 weeks in the history of the NFL. This was preceded by a Travis Kelce TD reception in the first
half and followed by a Harrison Butker 58-yard field goal late in the 4th quarter. After both teams exchanged possessions in overtime, Butker was able to kick in his second 58-yard field goal of the day to give the Chief the win in the newly opened SoFi Stadium.
In the Chargers post-game press conferences I wanted to know from Head Coach Anthony Lynn if there was a certain package for Herbert coming into the game, even though it was a surprise to everyone that Herbert would be starting this game. I didn’t know if they would have prepared one just for him for emergency purposes? Here’s what Lynn had to say when I asked him about a Herbert package, “Well it’s our offense, he’s our backup quarterback so whatever we put in for Tyrod, we felt Justin could do the same thing; He understood it. He didn’t get the same reps as Tyrod got, especially down in the lower red zone. So, some of those plays got a little tricky down there. It’s all part of the experience for him, I thought he handled it well, to be honest with you!”
When I asked Justin, how would you grade your performance today, he gave an honest answer response by saying, “Unfortunately, since we lost, I can’t say too well. But, there are things I’ve done poorly and there’s going to be things I look at the film and watch… its experience any chance I can get out there is huge and I’m going look at it and watch it and I know I’m going to get better from it.”
As a defensive star in the league, I wanted to know from Bosa what he thought of Herbert’s debut in the NFL, “I think he’s a smart kid that wants to win. He has the stature, 6’ 6” he has great vision back there. His arm, I think it was a little too strong today on a few passes. He’s got a great arm; I just like what I’m seeing from him. He’s got a good head on his shoulders; it’s going to be exciting to see him grow!”
Stay locked in all season long, as I will bring interesting insights from this Chargers team all year. Next week the Chargers welcome in the revamped Carolina Panthers into SoFi Stadium, I would expect they get back to the winning side of things before going on their road trip. I am open to hearing your thought and feedback on this Chargers team. Send all suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us at @whatsgoodnsport.