Second in the AFC West at 2-2, I think it’s fair to say the beginning of the season has been disappointing for the Bolts. However, for a team that’s already suffered injuries and humiliating losses, the next twelve weeks aren’t going to be much easier. Although most teams prefer a bye in the middle of the season, the team’s Week 5 bye might have been a blessing in disguise as in Week 4 the team was without Joey Bosa, Derwin James, Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams, and Corey Linsley to name a few. Mike Williams will be out for the rest of the year but this extra week was much needed for a team that plays the Cowboys this upcoming week and the Chiefs the week after. Still, what are some things we can possibly expect from the Chargers?
Image: Pro Football Network
The Love Will Be Spread Out Wide
Mike Williams’s injury not only creates a hole in the Charger’s offense, but it also presents opportunity for their other WRs to get some touches. After drafting TCU WR Quentin Johnston in the first round back in April, the team was hoping they could bring him along slowly, careful not to put too much on his plate at once. However, it wouldn’t be a real season for the Chargers if the unexpected didn’t happen. He’s fast, big, and is unreal after the catch. He does need to tighten things up to limit drops but expect for his role to be quietly increased.
As for Joshua Palmer, he’s a WR that has been tested again and again throughout his young NFL career. With injuries to Mike Williams and Keenan Allen in the past, Palmer has always been that guy who’s stepped up when the team needed him. Against Las Vegas a few weeks ago, Palmer made a game sealing catch to move the chains. He might not be the guy you want to have to rely on, but he’s more than capable of operating with an increased workload.
Around the league, teams are favoring speed more than anything. However once you have speed it’s important to use it. Since Ekeler’s injury, and more so since Williams’s injury, Derius Davis has seen an uptick in his usage. Used on jet sweeps, screens, pitches, and in the backfield, Davis has opened up the run and passing game tremendously. Although there’s growing optimism Ekeler will return this week, Davis has excelled with his increased workload.
Image: Sporting News
Is a Contract Extension Completely Out of Question?
After Jonathan Taylor’s contract extension, eyes now move out West to the Chargers and Austin Ekeler. While Ekeler has been nothing but superb for the Bolts since he was brought on as a UDFA, his recent injury history and his usage rate are an indication that he won’t be brought back. Additionally, in his absence this season, Joshua Kelley has been outstanding. He may not offer Kellen Moore the same versatility out of the backfield as Ekeler, but the duo of him and Spiller have been effective to say the least. Moreso, the team also has high hopes for UDFA Elijah Dotson after he had a phenomenal training camp and preseason. Even so, if Tom Telesco isn’t satisfied with the RB room by the season’s end, he could look to the draft where there should be some late round prospects available that could make an impact relatively soon.
Image: Dawgs By Nature
A New Face Out Wide?
As already stated, losing Mike Williams for the season is not ideal. But the Bolts do have some options they could go. Besides Derius Davis, Quentin Johnston, and Joshua Palmer, Jalen Guyton could be coming back after starting the season on the PUP list. However, in the event that he doesn’t return, a roster spot is now created for someone else. Perhaps Keelan Doss who began the season on the practice squad. Doss has bounced around since coming into the League but he’s large at 6’3” 215lbs and offers value on ST.
If the Chargers turn to free agency, John Hightower, Kenny Golladay, and Jarvis Landry are all available options. Hightower turned heads this summer but was cut allowing for Doss to remain. He might not be the club’s first choice, but he’s someone who’s already familiar with the offense, Justin Herbert, and the locker room. As for Golladay, he has the body type that most similarly resembles Williams at 6’4” 214lbs. He may not be the same receiver who signed a 4 year $40mil guaranteed contract with the Giants a few years ago, but his profile and experience could be extremely valuable. Moving to Landry, he may not be the WR1 he was in the past, but his route running is still crisp and could be an excellent acquisition. Additionally, Landry could be a good mentor to Joshua Palmer, whom the Chargers should look into possibly extending.
Image: Sporting News
A New Bell Cow?
If the Chargers want to make a run, they’ll need to tighten up their RB play. Kelley and Spiller have been great so far, but as the season continues, the RB position becomes emphasized. The most notable names on the market right now are Leonard Fournette and James Robinson. Fournette is an experienced veteran who could earn his money in short yardage situations and on the goal line. As for Robinson, he could be put in Spiller’s place and serve as a better one-two punch pairing with Kelley.
Still, other options are also Ronald Jones II and Zonovan Knight. After being drafted in the second round out of USC, Jones’s career has been disappointing. He’s a Super Bowl champ, but I get the feeling he’s still got some juice left in him. He’s got playoff experience and should be fresh enough to contribute with how solid the Bolt’s o-line has been. As for Zonovan Knight, he’s currently on the Lion’s practice squad but could be extremely effective in LA. He’s someone more like Robinson that can be used on pretty much any down. Still only 22 years old, there’s room for Knight to be groomed for a larger role in the future.
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