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Homegrown Talent Earns Vital Role For 2024 Chargers

Easton Stick has been unfairly criticized by Charger fans, due to previous cognitions. He has earned his spot as the backup in 2024.
Easton Stick

Easton Stick and The Los Angeles Chargers have been together since 2019. The former fifth-round selection finally got his opportunity to start this season after an unfortunate injury to superstar quarterback, Justin Herbert. Though the team went 0-4 in Stick’s starts, the majority of the issues did not stem from his play. Easton Stick has earned his spot as the Chargers 2024 backup quarterback.

Easton Stick Should Be Chargers Backup Quarterback In 2024

Lack of Experience Warranted Unfair Criticisms

When talking about experience, usually it is based on the players’ time in the league. This time around the experience being described is the Chargers fanbase and what they are used to. What Charger fans have been through over the last two decades is much different than what they experienced this season. 

Charger fans have been spoiled with the health and toughness of previous quarterbacks. Philip Rivers never missed a game, and Justin Herbert has been able to tough out every injury that he can play through. Because of this, the standard of quarterback play is too high for a backup quarterback to possibly reach. We see some high-level backups like Jake Browning and Joe Flacco, and instantly think that Easton Stick should be playing at that level.

That is simply an unfair thought process.

Easton Stick’s Situation Was Poor

The difference between Stick and those guys is the difference in talent surrounding them, play calling, and/or strong defenses. The former North Dakota State product has played on a Chargers team missing their top two receivers, top two centers, a banged-up Joshua Palmer, and a weak defense. This is not a recipe for success, just imagine throwing to the elite Quentin Johnston as your number-one wide receiver. The fact that Stick led the team to competitive losses in itself is a stock raiser. The team’s success reflects on the collective team and staff around it.

Injuries & Coaching

The easiest thing to point out when analyzing Stick’s gameplay is that the team around him was severely banged up. Easton Stick had to lead a team on its third-string center, third-string and beyond receivers, a shuffling tight end group, a banged-up offensive line, and the sixth-worst run game on a per-carry basis. That is not even mentioning the defense. A backup quarterback is not rostered to elevate the talent around him, he is rostered to give his playmakers as much opportunity as possible to carry the load. When there is little to no supporting cast, what was Easton Stick supposed to do?

Moving on to coaching, or lack thereof- the Chargers fired Brandon Staley and went with Giff Smith to finish out the rest of the regular season. Smith as a head coach gave competitive losses, which the fanbase wanted. He did not provide anything on offense, as that is not his background.

However, Kellen Moore was praised by Easton Stick for preparing him for his starts. At the end of the day, that is his job. The Chargers only scored an average of 16 points per game, with an average of 62.5 rushing yards per game (not counting Stick’s contributions), these would rank them fifth worst and the worst by over 25 rushing yards per game respectively if these statistics held up throughout the entire season. Whether these stats are an indictment of the situation he was placed in or his play, the end takeaway is that the Chargers offense was bad.

Through the stretch of games he played his stats are:

  • 63.8% Completion Percentage
  • 1129 Passing Yards
  • 3 Touchdowns
  • 1 INT/5 Fumbles
  • 14 Sacks Taken (7.4%)
  • 144 Rushing Yards
  • 1 Rushing Touchdown
  • 66.8 PFF Grade (28/45 – Eligible QBs)

Where Easton Stick Needs To Be Better

Easton Stick performed adequately when factoring in his surroundings, but he was far from perfect. If he wants to solidify himself as a strong option beyond 2024, he needs to work on a few things.

The offensive line may have underperformed this year, but the blame for Stick’s sack rate does not lie on them. The film says Stick needed to either bail or throw the ball away plenty of times instead of taking the sacks he did. If he had kept his pace throughout the entire season, he would have landed in the top five in most sacked quarterbacks. Easton Stick also ranks tenth-worse in the league in pressures turning into sacks, at a staggering 22.6%.

In his defense, when you have no run game or receiving talent to throw to, you are likely going to be facing light boxes, designed stunts, and run into plenty of coverage sacks with nobody to throw to. The same goes for his struggles pushing the ball down the field, as he ranks in at 32/45th in yards per attempt. The lack of talent around him combined with his struggles leads to an 0-4 record and a sour taste in Charger fans’ mouths.

The most important thing he needs to improve on is not losing the football. Easton Stick fumbled five times in his four starts. That is too many. He did limit his interceptions through the air, which is a great trait. But when you fumble the ball away anyway that trait is nullified. Protecting the football is key. Stick must improve in that realm if the Chargers ever want a shot if Herbert were to go down again.

Wrapping Up Why He Should Be Back In 2024

Easton Stick finally got a shot as the starter after playing his full rookie contract as the third-string quarterback. When called upon, he did not disappoint nor impress. A bad situation around him led to poor performance, but enough to warrant hope in the future. With newfound starting experience, ability to not throw interceptions, and run the football he has all the traits of a long-term backup quarterback in the making.

Main Photo: Kiyoshi Mio – USA Today Sports


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