Stop me if you’ve heard this one before — The Chargers had a chance to win the game and then blew it. Shocking, right? I know. That like never happens. The Chargers are always so meticulous in controlling other teams and finishing out strong for the victory that this totally caught me by surprise.
The Philadelphia Eagles world tour of lucky victories played a one night only gig in Los Angeles Sunday and they didn’t disappoint – somehow the circumstances fell their way at the end once again to come away with a victory.
I’m in serious jeopardy of losing my Eagles over/under 'win total' bet from the summer – Eagles 'under' 8.5 wins in 2017. I needed the Eagles to be 2-2 here at least, but they've found their way to 3-1. They snuck their way to 3-1 despite taking on a lot of defensive injuries. Credit to them. Every year there’s always one of these teams…not very good, but not bad, and the early schedule rolls out nicely so they get a couple of lucky wins and gain confidence and fall ass-backward into a 9+ win season and a playoff berth…and are celebrated as the second coming in the first half of a season and run on fumes at the end of the season but sneak into the playoffs (See: Detroit 2016). The Eagles are shaping up to be one of those types of teams.
I didn’t think the Eagles would be terrible, I just thought they were overrated by the media combined with a difficult schedule as the season unfolds, plus the vig wasn’t that heavy on the under. I still see 8–8 in their future, but I need them to lose a game maybe they should in the next week or two to start derailing their confidence.
I’m not even going to talk about the Chargers future. They need to make massive changes – they actually need to flush everything established like Philip Rivers, Anthony Lynn, and the general manager for starters. They need to completely revamp and re-energize this franchise. They have enough talent with the right coach and GM that they could turn it in a year like the Rams and the Bills, but they won’t. They’re going to stick with Anthony Lynn for too long, their general manager is an enigma, and Philip Rivers has choked the life out of this franchise for years. It’s not going to change anytime soon, sorry Chargers fans. They don’t even know what city they’re going to be three years from now much less know how to win tough games.
Fantasy player notes…
— As I’ve said on multiple occasions, be careful/stay away from guessing what the Eagles are going to do with the running backs week-to-week. Doug Peterson has absolutely shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that his approach is to rotate several RBs without giving preference to any of them at any time. It’s the truest RBBC/hot hand backfield in the NFL – which I think is genius for NFL purposes but it’s ridiculous for fantasy projection purposes.
That being said – I just want to mention that I do not believe Wendell Smallwood (10-34-1, 4-45-0/6) will play this week, and that may give rise for a moment to Corey Clement (10-30-0). Whether you need somebody for just this week or you’re trying to make a slick daily play. If Smallwood is out -- there might be a Clement moment coming up here.
I make this call beyond the mathematics…not just thinking if Smallwood is out, then touches have to shift somewhere, so maybe it’s Clement. It’s not just that. For two weeks now, I’ve watched the Eagles in close games/brawls and witnessed Clement carrying the ball in several key situations. Not just 1-2 that caught my eye…I mean several key moments, important drives like critical third and short carries that he’s converting for first downs and final minute drives. There is absolute trust in Clement – I’d say there’s more trust in him than LeGarrette Blount (16-136-0), truth be told.
This pro-Corey Clement move didn’t dawn on me until I re-watched this particular game and noticed how much run Clement was getting, which made me recall how I thought the same last week…but I kind of dismissed it as Peterson being random just to be random; his norm. I don’t think it’s totally random. Peterson in never going to announce Clement as the main starter give him 20+ carries for weeks in a row, but Clement is no +/- five touches a game guy either. He actually might be the best running back the team has, considering his measurables/skills and coming in at 220+ pounds. I wouldn’t say Clement is an obvious star in the making but he;s a C+/B- talent pushed by the O-Line and offense one way or the other. Again, Peterson isn’t going to commit to one RB unless everyone is hurt, but if Smallwood is out this week – Clement may shock you with his touch count. Clement may be a mild shock for the next couple weeks...
I wouldn’t move heaven and earth to add him, he's just something to consider for those in tricky situations – deeper rosters, injuries/BYE week issues.
— You think maybe the Chargers will try to jumpstart their sad running game by giving more touches to the only guy who is showing an ounce of electricity – UDFA RB Austin Ekeler (1-35-1, 2-23-0/2)? Don’t count on it…
The Chargers are swimming through an entire game watching Melvin Gordon (10-22-0/1-7-0/3) go nowhere but never changing their approach. This game provided the perfect example.
The Chargers pulled within 2 points of the lead in this game in the 4th quarter when Ekeler randomly entered and took a hand-off up the middle and outraced everyone for a sweet 35-yard TD run. Ekeler tallied the same amount of yards on that carry as Melvin Gordon has rushed for in Weeks 2 and 4 combined (on his 19 carries in those two games). Finally, the Chargers showed a running game spark. Finally, The Chargers had momentum and a chance to win. As they embarked on their next drive, with 2+ minutes to go, Austin Ekeler was not to be seen or touched the ball. The guy who just ran for a 35 yard TD…that was his only carry of the game.
That’s Anthony Lynn. Actually, that’s the NFL. Success adverse and routine addicted.
Someone asked me this week if Ekeler might be online for the Danny Woodhead role for the Chargers. The more I thought about this during this game re-watch, the more I thought – are you kidding me? You think Anthony Lynn has a playbook designed for the new era of running backs as passing weapons? A guy from the Rex Ryan coaching tree? A guy that when you hear speak spews every tough guy cliché about smashmouth football there ever was? You’re insulting him by suggesting he move to feature smaller scat back RBs… Anthony Lynn was a scrappy, brawling RB in the NFL…and that’s the way he’s coached, that’s the way he prefers his RBs, and that’s the way it’s going to be right to his demise. In three years, Anthony Lynn will be the running back coach for random old school team/head coach, I guarantee it. And he’ll do the same thing there as he’s doing now as he did with the Jets and Bills with Rex Ryan.
Ekeler has touched the ball 6 times this season for 82 yards…13.7 yards per touch. It will be teeth pulling for Lynn to see this and give him more. If he does it will be 2-3 touches instead of 1-2…is my prediction.
I'm not going to waste time with more 'I told you so' on Melvin Gordon. To me, that debate was won by me day one and isn't worth discussing. I know he's going to get 15+ carries a game and average less than 3.8 ypc and get random TDs, whether I like it or not. The league won’t wake up on Gordon for another year or so when it's contract time.
— Tyrell Williams (5-115-1/6) fine we had a breakout game. As I watched this back, it re-invigorated me on how really talented Tyrell Williams is. It also reminded me of how stupid Anthony Lynn and Philip Rivers are. Tyrell Williams should get equal billing/target with Keenan Allen (5-138-0/11) but it’s never going to happen. Fortunately, Tyrell can do more with limited targets than Keenan Allen can do with double the work. However, we’ve got a problem here still…
Philip Rivers is falling apart fast and Anthony Lynn’s offense is based on watching Melvin Gordon run for negative yardage plays. You think he’s trying to feature Tyrell Williams? Williams will get scraps throughout the season, and he’ll spin some into gold and sometimes not. It’s just the way it’s going to be. He’s a WR3 for 2017…a WR3 in the body and skill set up a WR1. As long as Williams is stuck with this current Chargers' regime he’ll never reach his full height for Fantasy – just the radical blips.
The real issue is the upcoming schedule…
Week 5: @NYG is workable
Week 6: @OAK is nice
Week 7: v. DEN is death, it always has been for Tyrell
Week 8: @NE…if they have their secondary fixed, it's a problem.
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: @JAC…dead
Week 11: v. BUF, the best pass defense in the NFL statistically today
Weeks 7-11 could be no starts or maybe one for Tyrell in fantasy.
Weeks 14-15…WAS and @KC, not good for the playoffs either.
I am a huge Tyrell Williams fan. I discovered, promoted Tyrell Williams as a future star way ahead of everyone…back when the Chargers cut him as a rookie. He's 'my guy'…and I'm telling you this whole situation and schedule is a problem for 2017.
— I totally fell sleep on the new Chargers cornerback, the guy that took over for Jason Verrett, 2016 UDFA out of Penn State Trevor Williams (7 tackles, 1 TFL). He’s not bad player at all – and he’s going to get picked on, and he’s a willing tackler for a cornerback. He might have a surprisingly good run in IDP because of the circumstances.
Watching him play in this game – not bad in coverage, and a very willing tackler. He has the right measurable’s as well – 5’11/191 and ran a 4.44 40-time and a 6.80 three-cone.
I’m a little late to the party, but maybe not too late.
— I don’t know if Korey Toomer (1 tackle) is banged up or if he’s offended Anthony Lynn, but somehow he’s been ousted from playing time by the illustrious Hayes Pullard (7 tackles). Toomer is a speed and aggression LB, while Pullard is more a throwback to the 70s and 80s linebacker – big shocker that Anthony Lynn would want that as his middle linebacker. Big shocker that teams are running all over the Chargers (#31 v. the run YTD)
— Just a quick note – Carson Wentz (17-31 for 242 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) barely completed 50% of his passes in this game. If you take out all his dump passes to running backs you get 50%. I’m not saying Carson Wentz is a bust, I’m just saying he’s nowhere near the guy he’s made out to be by football analysts.
I get the optical illusion. He’s tall. He’s pretty mobile. He’s affable on the microphone. He’s also a very erratic, skittish downfield passer with bad mechanics/wind-up throwing the ball, and the only way he makes big plays normally is by a crazy Fran Tarkington scrambles, leading to broken coverage, leading to some guy wide open downfield that wins desperately heaves the ball too. Wentz had that bizarre long TD pass to start the season, and you may recall his before-halftime-noninterception that bounced off the defender's chest and right into Zach Ertz's hands for the giant gain. If I just took those two passes out of the equation Wentz is averaging this season: 236.8 yards passing, 1.3 TDs/0.5 INTs per game. This is a star?
Snap Counts of Interest…
35 = Smallwood
26 = Blount
19 = Clement
42 = Gordon
12 = Oliver
03 = Ekeler
09 = Mack Hollins
09 = Trey Burton
49 = Pullard
16 = Toomer
62 = Desmond King