This one almost truly had the beginnings of a fairy tale Hollywood type script. Going against the division rival defending super bowl champs in our very first home game at a brand new 5 billion dollar stadium. Not to mention it was to everyone’s surprise that it also ended up being the pro debut of the teams quarter back of the future. Man oh man did everything line up perfectly just the way they needed it to. They had them right where they wanted them and unfortunately due to some minor mistakes they let them off the ropes. It truly could have been the beginning of what legends are made of and the perfect story to what would propel a superstar in the making. Even though they still faltered at the end, who’s to say that it still can’t be?
Ultimately Herbert finished the game completing 22 of 33 passes for 311 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. On the ground he had 18 yards total on 4 attempts along with a rushing touchdown as well. It turns out that not only had a quarterback not had a rushing and passing touchdown in his debut since 1954, but also it ended up being the 3rd highest amount of passing yards any single quarterback had ever thrown for in a debut. That puts him higher than Andrew Luck and Kyler Murray in the top five of that particular category and only behind RG3 and Cam Newton. In fact it would seem to me that the only thing that held this back from being a story book beginning was that the team didn’t get a win, which would have been the cherry on top. Herbert also showed the ability to be able to absorb big hits as if he was a defender. I guess that’s where that 6’6” 230 pound frame comes in. This really says something considering the reason he got the start in the first place was because Tyrod is already dealing with a rib injury and dint seem to take nearly the same abuse that Herbert did. Of course to be fair it’s hard to tell how hits are absorbed just off of visualization. Never have I ever seen a fan base so excited and positive after a last second loss in overtime, but this is rightfully so. The future looks very bright.
Enough about Herbert though as there were other several positives and after all this is a team contribution. This week unlike last the team did a much better job of getting everyone else involved, mainly Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen. They seemed to find a much better rhythm in the run game with rookie Joshua Kelley and Ekeler seemingly splitting the time share. Kelley saw a total of 43 snaps and a total of 52% of plays while running mate Austin Ekeler saw 47 snaps and 57% of snaps. They seemed to both produce good numbers and coaches did a better job of knowing which back was more suitable of certain situations. This might also be due to the fact that they now have a better idea of what to expect out of Joshua Kelley. Ekeler finished the game with 93 total rushing yards and 55 receiving yards while Kelley totaled 64 rushing yards and 49 receiving yards.
The offensive line continued to play well even though Pro Football Focus grades didn’t reflect it as they did last week, however they did pass the eye test for the most part. The team seemed to excel more so in the pass protection department this week as last week is was the opposite. Sam Tevi finished with the highest pass protection grade out of all the lineman with a 76.4 overall grade in that department. Yes I am talking about that Sam Tevi….crazy I know! Trey Pipkins had a high in the run blocking department with a 79.4 . Needless to say I think it’s safe to say that new offensive line coach James Capmen has really turned this unit around and will be great seeing how this progresses over the course of the season.
The defensive line also accomplished something worth talking about as they had the most quarterback pressures as a team in week 2 with a team total of 28 pressures. Bosa alone had 10 which put him as number one in that category for the week. Nwosu finished with 6, followed by Tllery with 5, Ingram with 4, and Rochelle, linval, and Jones all having one a piece. Again the grading system dosnt really seem to reflect this as damion Square and Uchenna Nwosu had the highest grades coming in at 70 each.
What needs to be cleaned up
While there isn’t a whole lot to be down on this week there are three main factors in my eyes that ultimately lead to taking the loss. First was the fact that the coaching staff decided to go for it on 4th down in the second quarter instead of attempting a 51 yard field goal. I know hindsight is one thing but I had disagreed with the call even before the got stuffed on 4th down. I saw this because I believe when the opportunity to score points in the first half presents itself you take it. I believe this regardless of score and or opponent but especially more so when you are playing the defending super bowl champs who can score points very quickly. This is a belief I never waiver from when it comes to the first half. If it’s late in the 3rd or 4th quarter then there can be a conversation that is had.
Second thing that came to mind was the interception that Justin Herbert threw when he clearly had about 8 yards of clearance in front of him when he only needed 2 for the first down. I’m not going to hold this against Herbert too much as rookie growing pains are to be expected especially when there were no pre-season games. The turnover lead to the Chiefs scoring the game tying touchdown when if that hadn’t happened maybe the game then become a bit more lopsided but there is no point speculating as there is no way to know if they would have scored on that drive. He will learn that you have to take what the defense gives you and I also understand that he was just trying to make something happen. I was very vocal about wanting Herbert to sit all of year one but now that it hasn’t happened I’m very up in the air about it. Mistakes like these make part of me understand coach Lynn wanting to stick with Tyrod like he said along with the fact you don’t want to put too much pressure on the kid right away.
The third thing and probably most mind boggling thing that lead to the teams loss was the fact that they decided to punt on 4th an 1 yard to go in overtime. If they decided to go for it in the second why not go for it again in overtime when the game is on the line. You especially don’t want Patrick Mahomes touching the ball in overtime. You also have a quarterback who is 6’6” and had shown multiple times earlier in the game that he could run with a little bit of power. I don’t see why they couldn’t have had Herbert take a snap under center and simply do a quarterback sneak. If he would have come up short I would not have been upset at them attempting to win the game. The coaching staff must have lost their balls when they got stuffed in the on fourth earlier in the game.
Like I said earlier there is a lot to be positive about going forward and it is still very early in the season. If they can play the super bowl champs that close I have no doubt they can go toe to toe with most opponents.