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Chargers Preseason Week 1 Studs And Duds: The Offense

Chargers Preseason Week 1

During the course of the NFL’s Week 1 preseason matchups, plenty of players showed why they should make their respective NFL roster. Alike, plenty of college talent showed they may need some more time to be considered a lock for their respective roster. For the Los Angeles Chargers, the newly Kellen Moore-led offense showed major gas in Week 1 of the preseason, scoring 27 points, not counting the return touchdown.

Chargers Preseason Week 1 Studs and Duds

Stud: Easton Stick

Easton Stick was the Chargers’ fifth-round selection in 2019. During the Rivers era, many fans thought Stick had the talent to surmount Philip Rivers. This obviously did not happen, but Easton Stick has been the Chargers third quarterback since his selection. During this offseason, Stick signed a one-year, two-million dollar deal to come back as the number two behind the starter, Justin Herbert.

With more on his plate than ever, Stick has been getting more practice reps, letting him develop his game more closely. Week 1 of the Chargers preseason was Stick’s first chance as the bonafide backup to show he can relieve the top 100 Justin Herbert of his duties if the “break glass” situation happens.

The former North Dakota State product showed that he is everything the staff hoped he was. During this showing, Stick impressed with his decision-making ability, as well as his mobility to escape pressure. For baseline stats, Stick threw for 109 yards on 14 completions. With his 21 passing attempts, Stick threw for a touchdown to Chargers first-round selection, Quentin Johnston.

As for advanced statistics, Stick impressed with two big-time throws, putting it into tight windows, in big-time situations. His average depth of target was 8.9 yards, pushing the ball downfield, and showing his ability to process defenses. With the drops Stick’s receivers had, his adjusted competition percentage ended up being 71.4%.

Overall, Easton Stick proved himself to be the Chargers QB2, giving fans and the staff alike, confidence in his ability to win the team games if the nightmarish situation of Herbert getting injured happens.

Stud: Elijah Dotson

Elijah Dotson was arguably the biggest winner of Week 1 of the Chargers preseason, going from relative unknown to having his highlights littered across social media.  Dotson is a Sacramento native, playing his final season for the Northern Colorado Golden Bears. During this season he showed his prowess in two of the three phases. On offense, he earned himself 933 rushing yards and six touchdowns.  To add on, Dotson had 300 receiving yards and two more scores. He also handled kick return responsibilities for Northern Colorado, finishing with an average of 19.4 yards per return on 13 attempts. He only saw one single punt return last year, but he made the most of it by taking it all the way back to the house for an 82-yard touchdown.

With a background like that, he was due for at least an NFL shot. The Los Angeles Chargers gave him just that. Throughout rookie minicamp, OTAs, and training camp, little was heard of him, but that came to a halting stop. On Saturday, his name was all over. He earned this, by rushing for 92 yards on only 6 rushing attempts. He also scored two touchdowns, both being long runs.

Elijah Dotson showed his vision by bouncing his what-was-supposed to be an inside gashing run, to the outside, and letting his speed do the rest. Bouncing a run like that to the outside is usually followed up with a loss and a hard day Monday film study. Luckily, Elijah Dotson is more than talented to make his mistakes look purposeful and make them work in ways that most preseason backs cannot.

Stud: Derius Davis

Like Dotson, Chargers fourth-round rookie Derius Davis has had his name brought up quite a bit since Saturday. Drafted out of Texas Christian University, coming along with teammates Quentin Johnston and Max Duggan, Davis earned his draft status with his speed and return ability. Plenty of analysts including myself, argued this selection was too early. To my discredit, if Davis continues this type of play into the regular season, he will be more than worth the fourth-round investment.

To talk about the speedster’s play, he showed his receiving prowess by catching two balls for 21 yards. That isn’t super impressive, but on his second catch, picking up that first down was crucial and quite impressive. With his other catch, he showed his ability to hang on through contact, taking on a big hit.

Enough about his offensive play, the headline of his play on Saturday was his extremely impressive punt return touchdown. He had a nice stutter step to set up his blocks, followed up with an amazing move on the defender, finishing off with his speed, running to the house for six.

Honorable Mentions:

Keelan Doss

Keelan Doss was a midseason pick-up last year, being elevated from the practice squad multiple times, with the injuries to Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. Doss didn’t do much with his elevation, but he has earned himself on the initial 90-man roster.

On Saturday, Doss was a very reliable target for the quarterbacks, leading the team in receiving with 39 yards. His three catches on four targets had one contested catch, with a 12.0 average depth of target. Doss has a long way to make the final 53-man roster, but this showing is a good start for the former Raider.

Isaiah Spiller

Isaiah Spiller was the Chargers’ fourth-round selection last year and is expected for a big breakout year. With the backup running back position up for grabs this year, Spiller has to beat out the emerging Joshua Kelley for the spot. Either way, Kellen Moore has stated he plans on using both backs in his system along with Austin Ekeler, so playing time will be had for all. Spiller made his case on Saturday with 5.4 yards per attempt.

Unfortunately, Spiller had a massive breakout 71-yard run that was called back due to holding. If this would have counted, he would have had six attempts for 98 yards and a touchdown. Beyond his rushing ability, Spiller had two catches for eleven yards during Week 1 of the Chargers preseason.

Dud: Quentin Johnston

Quentin Johnston is going to have a lot of high expectations thrown his way. Being the Chargers first-round selection this year, it is very important that he at least shows he belongs. This Saturday, Johnston struggled.

In an overall dominant team win over the Rams, not a lot of Charger players struggled. Quentin Johnston didn’t have the worst game, but he definitely left a lot left to be desired. Johnston had three catches on six targets for ten yards and a touchdown.

Not a terrible stat line, but if you consider his drops, it wasn’t a great performance. Only one drop was recorded according to PFF, but by my count, he had at least two. He showed weak hands, not being able to keep the ball in his grasp after catching the football. The ball was easily knocked out, and defenders didn’t really struggle against the first-round selection.

On the bright side, Quentin Johnston got the last laugh by scoring a touchdown on a very great route in the red zone. He did this with one shoe untied, just imagine what he could do if it was tied! Jokes aside, the future is still bright for the Texas Christian product, but Saturday was far and away not a great showing.

Dud: Foster Sarell

Another dud for the Los Angeles Chargers was a name that would be in the Hall of Fame if being a dud was the only quota. Foster Sarell struggled once again, this time against players who may not be in the NFL in a month. Sarell gave up one sack, two hurries, and three pressures according to PFF. This was on 53 snaps.

Foster Sarell has a lot of improving to do if we feel comfortable with him being our swing tackle. Hope for the health of Trey Pipkins and Rashawn Slater. With his work with offensive line guru, Duke Manyweather, I hope that he will have a bounce-back game next week.

All in all, this was a very good showing for the Chargers, having mostly studs, than duds. With lots of young players, this was a good game to let them get their nerves out. Next week, look for the Chargers to have another impressive showing against the New Orleans Saints.

Main Photo: Kirby Lee – USA Today Sports


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