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Chiefs’ Jaylen Watson’s pick-6 on Chargers coach Brandon Staley

He could...go...all...the...way...99 yards!

He might…go…all…the…means…99 yards!
Picture: Getty Pictures

Final night time’s Chargers-Chiefs sport was implausible, a show of two of one of the best younger abilities within the sport at quarterback. In the end, the Chiefs walked away with the 27-24 victory, proving that the street to an AFC West title nonetheless runs by way of Kansas Metropolis.

The turning level within the sport was rookie Jaylen Watson’s 99-yard interception return TD. This was the third interception thrown by Herbert in 5 video games in opposition to the Chiefs. It was a somewhat inaccurate throw that actually by no means ought to’ve been made. So, how did it occur? Chargers head coach Brandon Staley (with a splash of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi) was performing ridiculously, that’s how.

Have in mind, this was first and purpose on the Kansas Metropolis three-yard line. What does Staley draw up? A play-action look to Herbert’s weak facet in opposition to a six-man field. Fascinating resolution. Typically, I wouldn’t be too upset with this, however Staley made no effort to determine the run previous to this play, and that’s why no one, and I imply no one, fell for the pretend to Austin Ekeler. All of Arrowhead Stadium knew Ekeler wasn’t getting the ball.

Keep in mind the Chargers’ first landing drive? After the massive go to Mike Williams, what did the Chargers do? An influence run with the newly-acquired Sony Michel. It didn’t work, however on the very subsequent play, they went play-action left to fullback Zander Horvath huge open within the flat. The primary play arrange the second play, and compelled the protection to respect the Chargers going again to Michel. As an alternative, Herbert pulled it again and located a wide-open receiver. That’s good play-calling. On the interception, the Chargers had gone 4 straight first downs with out operating the ball. In that span, they ran a complete of 13 performs. Solely two have been runs.

The Chiefs had no purpose to respect the run, so the pretend to Ekeler was about as efficient as G.O.B. Bluth displaying a sleight of hand trick — illusion, Michael! — to David Copperfield. Chiefs linebacker Willie Homosexual didn’t fall for the pretend in any respect. He ran straight by way of Ekeler, who tried to set a block however failed, and on to Herbert, with no second thought. Homosexual’s presence compelled a nasty throw from Herbert and obscured the previous Rookie of the 12 months’s imaginative and prescient, inflicting the errant throw into the arms of Watson.

I perceive Staley’s hesitance to run the ball on the purpose line with out All-Professional heart Corey Linsley, who left the sport at halftime with a knee injury, however you’ve got AUSTIN EKELER! The person had 20 touchdowns final season and is well-regarded as among the best backs within the league. Hell, he was simply ranked the sixth-best halfback in the league by the players. For those who don’t belief heart Will Clapp to open a niche, not less than belief Ekeler to discover a new one or observe left deal with Rashawn Slater into the top zone. Ekeler is thought for with the ability to battle for additional yards. In 2021, he averaged 15.8 rushing attempts per broken tackle, higher than the likes of Derrick Henry (21.9), D’Andre Swift (16.8), Leonard Fournette (16.4), and Ezekiel Elliott (26.3). Give him the rattling ball! On the very least, giving Ekeler the ball not solely provides your greatest short-yardage participant the chance to make a play on the purpose line, however would make play-action all of the more practical on the subsequent two performs. Even when Ekeler had misplaced two or three yards, possibly play-action on second down would’ve compelled Homosexual to assume twice earlier than transferring towards Herbert. That split-second resolution would’ve alleviated a few of the stress on the Chargers quarterback, and Homosexual wouldn’t have been up in Herbert’s face when he made the throw. That’s all of the distinction on this planet.

I’m not saying a run with Ekeler was by far one of the best play in that state of affairs. It’s the purpose line. Mike Williams had been having his means with the Chiefs DBs all night time. He’s larger and stronger than anybody the Chiefs might’ve placed on him. A back-shoulder fade would’ve been an incredible name as properly. It’s a lot safer than an out route in opposition to man protection on first down. At worst, the Chiefs intercept the ball, however it’s extremely unlikely the nook who made the hypothetical decide would’ve been capable of get out of the top zone. In fact, that’s a worst-case situation. Finest case? Williams continues to Moss his defenders like he’d been doing all night time. I discover the latter state of affairs more likely. As an alternative, the Chargers opted to come back out in a good 11-personnel package deal, stopping Herbert from making a throw like that. Williams was too near the middle to power a 1-on-1 state of affairs. Simply an terrible name all-around.

Staley out-coached Andy Reid within the first half. Nonetheless, the place Reid made defensive changes, swapping to extra Cowl 2 and zone blitzes to forestall large performs to Williams, the Chargers’ offense couldn’t alter. They did not make the most of Ekeler till rubbish time, and did not get Williams concerned. The interception was clearly not a superb throw, however Staley did his quarterback no favors with how he arrange that play.

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