Monday Night Football gave us yet another tough Los Angeles Chargers loss, as they lost 30-27 in overtime to the New Orleans Saints and fell to 1-4. While there were certainly a fair share of things to grumble about – like Michael Badgley doing a Cody Parkey impersonation, or Joshua Kelley struggling again, or some of the late play-calling – there were still some positives. This of course included Justin Herbert, who had another great night with four (!) touchdown passes. But we’ve already talked about him a fair amount lately. Instead, let’s talk about another playmaker who was probably the second biggest factor in giving the Chargers a chance – wide receiver Mike Williams.
Mike Williams Has Big Game Despite Loss
Slow Start and an Injury
Mike Williams actually had a bit of a rough start to the 2020 season. While he had a decent Week 1, he only had two catches in the Week 2 game where Herbert had his first start, and then was dealing with a hamstring injury which forced him out midway through the next game and caused him to miss Week 4 altogether. Regardless, Herbert didn’t seem to be developing chemistry with him as quickly as Keenan Allen. But Williams was active on Monday night, and they needed him.
Not long after grabbing Herbert’s first touchdown pass of the night, Keenan Allen went down with a back injury and missed the rest of the game. And thus Mike Williams had to step and make big plays, and he did just that. This felt oddly similar to another primetime game back in 2018 when Allen went out even earlier, and Williams – who was less of a proven receiver at that point – had three touchdowns plus the game-winning two-point conversion.
Mike Williams’ Night
Mike Williams finished with five catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns, easily leading the team in receiving. Neither of his touchdowns were actually his most impressive play, but they were still important ones. The first touchdown came in the second quarter on a fade to the corner from Herbert – a fairly easy one. The second one came in the fourth quarter when the Chargers needed a play on third down, while down seven – and Patrick Robinson let Williams run right past him, leaving him wide open to catch a 64-yard touchdown that he practically walked into the end zone for.
The best play of the night came on another critical third down with less than a minute to go in regulation. After a few more conservative plays, Herbert tossed up a prayer – and Williams brought it in with two defenders draped all over him and a third one in the general vicinity. Williams had brought in a few crazy jump ball passes like that last year too, but (if memory serves) none of them were with that tight of coverage. (Too bad Cody Park—I mean Michael Badgley—decided to doink it next to send it to overtime).
Herbert went to Williams on fourth down in overtime too, but unfortunately this was a slant route that was caught short of the first-down marker; evidently, they were expecting him to run past/push past the defender, but Marshon Lattimore brought him down and that was that. That play might’ve worked with Keenan Allen, but Herbert should’ve thrown past the first-down chains anyway.
Last Word on Mike Williams
After a quiet start to 2020 (due in part to the injury), Mike Williams reminded everybody on primetime why he’s also a big threat on this offense. Let’s not forget, Williams had (barely) a 1,000-yard season last year – while averaging an absurd 20.4 yards per catch. While Allen may clearly be the #1 receiver and better playmaker overall, Williams is a bit better at the deep contested jump balls and dangerous in his own right regardless. We’ve still yet to Allen and Williams dominate in the same game with Herbert starting, but it’ll happen soon enough. This game will certainly help with Herbert’s chemistry with Williams.
Due to the bizarre rescheduling tricks the NFL just pulled after postponing the Week 5 Broncos-Patriots game, the Chargers will now suddenly head into their bye for Week 6. Might be needed too, because while the schedule does get generally easier for the next month, there are clearly some issues to sort out.
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