Week 4 of the NFL season has come to a close, and each team is starting to get a sense of their strengths and weaknesses. The week ended with a primetime matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football. Before the game, the two teams were seen as somewhat equal in strength. The Raiders were 3-0 and on a hot streak, while the Chargers were off a huge win against the Kansas City Chiefs. In my preview of this game, it was predicted the Chargers would win in a close game 24-21. However, the Chargers played far better than expected, even for the most loyal of Chargers fans. Here are the Chargers’ takeaways from NFL Week 4.
The Chargers yet again opened the game strong, opening the first half 21-0. The Raiders could not get any momentum on offense and got stifled in the ground game. Meanwhile, the Chargers were having a field day with the Raiders offense through the air and through the ground games.
However, once the half ended and adjustments were made, the Raiders finally looked ready to compete. The Raiders scored 14 unanswered points in the third quarter after shifting away from the ground game. The shift to a passing-first approach was key for the Raiders. However, their third-quarter resurgence wasn’t sustainable. The Chargers took control again in the fourth quarter, thanks in no small part to running back Austin Ekeler‘s heroic performance. After an Ekeler touchdown run for 11 yards, the Chargers sealed the win at home, 28-14.
What Went Well
Ekeler was rockin’ out throughout the entire game. One thing that the Chargers struggled with through the season so far was that they were too reliant on their pass game. Sure, with a gunslinger like Justin Herbert, that’s reasonable. However, having a reliable run game to back the pass game up against strong pass defenses is crucial. Ekeler finished the game with 117 rushing yards on 15 carries (7.8 yards per carry) and a rushing touchdown. Impressive enough, but he also played a role in the passing game. He added on 28 yards on three catches and a receiving touchdown. Ekeler was undeniably the best player on the field on Monday night. If he can keep at least a similar amount of production going forward, the Chargers’ offense will be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
Derwin James proved yet again that his mere presence on the field does wonders for the Chargers’ defense. With six tackles (three solo), a pass deflected and a key crunchtime interception, James was a huge contributor in cutting off the Raiders’ third-quarter resurgence. His versatility in playstyle and elite athleticism make him a vital chess piece for head coach Brandon Staley. James’s injury thankfully did not impact his play as much as fans were worried about, and barring any future injury, the Chargers’ defense is in good hands with him at the helm.
What Did Not
The Third Quarter
The third quarter has not been too friendly to the Chargers so far. In the third quarter this season, opponents outscored the Chargers 35-3 through four games. Though they seem to bounce back in the fourth quarter, the Chargers need to get faster at adjusting to their opponents’ halftime adjustments. Otherwise, they are giving themselves too little time to bounce back if their opponents take the lead in the third quarter.
To be honest, there isn’t much to complain about when it comes to the Chargers’ Monday night performance against the Raiders. Aside from the third quarter setback, the Chargers played as well as one could have hoped for.
The Chargers play against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at 1:05 pm PST. It’s yet another difficult game in a season filled with so many difficult opponents right out of the gate. It will be interesting to see how the Chargers approach Myles Garrett and the talented Browns defense. These were the Chargers’ takeaways from NFL Week 4.