Chargers headed to Cleveland after beating the Texans
October 6, 2022
The Los Angeles Chargers came to Houston needing a win and needing to get their offensive stars going after a 1-2 start and two consecutive losses. As they say at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, "Mission Accomplished."
The Chargers got big games from quarterback Justin Herbert, running back Austin Ekeler, and wide receiver Mike Williams and held on in the fourth quarter for a much-needed 34-24 victory over the Huston Texans on Sunday.
Herbert, playing with a cracked rib cartilage, completed 27 of 39 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns. Williams had seven receptions for 120 yards and Austin Ekeler finally broke loose, scoring three touchdowns to lead the Chargers to the victory. Ekeler, who led the NFL in touchdowns in 2020 with 20 touchdowns, had not scored in the first three games.
In this game, Ekeler rushed 13 times for 60 yards and two rushing touchdowns, while also snagging six passes for 49 yards and a touchdown. Overall, the Chargers only gained 81 yards on the ground, but when you have Herbert at quarterback you just need to run enough to keep the defense honest.
The Chargers will face a tough matchup when they travel to Cleveland to play the Browns this Sunday. Like the Chargers, the Browns are 2-2. With quarterback DeShaun Watson out until week 13, the Browns will start veteran Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. Brissett has thrown for 830 yards in four games, with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Browns live-and-die on their running game. They have a talented offensive line and two talented running backs, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt. The Browns average 384.8 yards per game, which is tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the 4th in the NFL. The Browns average 187.3 rushing yards per game, which is second in the NFL. The Browns are 9th in the NFL in total defense, allowing 326 yards per game.
On Sunday against the Texans, the Chargers allowed Texan rookie running back Dameon Pierce 131 yards on just 14 carries, including a 75-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The previous Sunday, the Chargers allowed James Robinson to gain 100 yards on 17 carries, including a 50-yard touchdown run. In Week 2 against the Chiefs, the Chargers allowed a 52-yard run to Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Three consecutive weeks allowing runs of over 50 yards.
The Chargers got a good performance from rookie left tackle Jamaree Salyer, starting for injured Rashawn Slater. "Poised, strong, assignment-sound," said Charger head coach Brandon Staley of Salyer's performance. "Good to get him out there and experience the game with his teammates. He's a work-in-progress. I felt like he finished the game playing well and giving us a chance to close that game out there on that last drive."
In his Monday press conference, Charger head coach Brandon Staley attempted to explain the issues with the run defense. "Each run has a different story, for sure," Staley said. "It's just trusting the run fit. In all of those runs, they've been to the perimeter. We have to have better perimeter run support. That's where it starts. There are going to be some plays that get to the perimeter. We have to make sure that we support the run better on the perimeter."
The game against the Browns, which will be played next Sunday, October 9th, will start at 10:00 AM PST and will be televised locally on CBS. Staley, who grew up in the suburbs of Cleveland, will be returning home for this game.
"I'm excited to see my family and friends," Staley said. "I'm definitely looking forward to feeling the presence of my loved ones there. I don't know how many I'm going to get to see, but it'll be special going back home, for sure." It will be even more special with a win on Sunday in Cleveland.