On opening day, it didn’t quite go to plan for the Los Angeles Chargers against their division rivals Kansas City Chiefs. It was their 9th straight loss to the reigning AFC West champions, falling 38-28.
The Chargers made multiple errors, especially from key veteran players in the defeat, but today I’m going to dive into the other end of the roster. Multiple rookies made their NFL debuts, see lets find out who managed to make an impact.
- Chiefs Expose Chargers Woes In Disastrous Home Opener
- Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon: One Of The League’s Most Dangerous Backfields
SAF Derwin James
Stat line: 3 total tackles, 1 solo, 1 sack
Snap Count: 56 (from 56)
It’s only right to start of with the team’s first round draft pick. It didn’t take too long for the Florida State product to show the fans what to expect. Early in the 2nd quarter, James made two influential plays. The first, a touchdown saving pass break up, diving in front of speedy receiver De’Anthony Thomas and making a play on the ball. Two plays later, on third down, James displayed another aspect of his game. Lined up on the edge, he chased around the back end to get to, and take down QB Patrick Mahomes. His explosiveness was on full show.
This time in zone coverage, he can’t get close enough to Tyreek Hill. With Mahomes scrambling loose on 3rd down, he finds Hill for another big gain. James, playing deep, can’t get close enough to the receiver. However, there was another showing of James’ speed off the edge. This time he can’t quite catch the Chiefs’ QB, but does force an incomplete pass. This is a big part of James’ game that coodinator Gus Bradley will look to utilize as the season goes on.
LB Kyzir White
Stat line: 5 total tackles, 3 solo
Snap Count: 44
White was named as a starter before the game over Jatavis Brown, and overall, had a solid game. He did get beat over the top by an acrobatic catch by Hill, but Jahleel Addae was also slow to get across. Additionally, linebackers vs. wide receivers usually end up in one result, so White shouldn’t have been put in that position.
The 4th round pick showed his tackling ability, whilst RB Kareem Hunt burst through the first line of defense, White was there to meet the ‘back before he could hit the open field. His sound technique is something the Chargers have lacked within the last few years. The next play the rookie had good instincts and reactions to not let the Chiefs’ trickery fool him. He almost had the stop on 3rd and short, but the runner had enough momentum to get the first.
Something that won’t show up on the stat sheet, was White’s coverage on TE Travis Kelce. Multiple times he shadowed the three time pro bowl tight end. Kelce was held to one reception, for six yards.
OLB Uchenna Nwosu
Snap Count: 2
Because of the snap count, there isn’t much to digest here. Giving the fact that Nwosu had a very good preseason, it comes as a surprise his lack of game time. Head Coach Anthony Lynn said in his Monday press conference: “I hate to put a guy in a position he hasn’t played all year”. You would have thought with Nwosu’s varied skill set, the coaches could have found more opportunities for him.
DT Justin Jones
Stat line: 3 combined tackles, 1 solo,
Snap Count: 24
There was a heavy rotation between the Bolts’ interior defensive line. This, and the suspension to Corey Liuget, meant Jones got a chance to impress straight away. He showed good strength at the point of attack, showing this in a stretch run play. The defensive tackle worked his way along the line, and penetrated at the right moment to help make the tackle.
It wasn’t all plain-sailing as in one-play the lineman got pushed back multiple yards to allow big hole for RB Spencer Ware for a 27-yard gain. Furthermore, with the team down by 5 points, and Kansas City in redzone, he made a huge mistake. Himself and Melvin Ingram managed to get the initial stop, the ball popped loose, and James recovered and ran loose. However, Jones was called for a facemask penalty, and Chiefs extended their lead with a touchdown on the next play.
WR JJ Jones
Stat line: 2 kick returns, 36 yards, long 23, 1 punt return, -1 yards, two fumbles, one recovered
Uh, oh. The offense had just made it an 11-point game in the 4th, with a touchdown and an Antonio Gates 2-point conversion. The defense got the stop. Then, the special team woes continued. Under no pressure, but running backwards, Jones muffed the deep punt, manged to regather it in, but fumbled it again whilst being tackled. The Chiefs would ice the game three plays later. With an impressive preseason showing, Jones rightfully earned the returner duty. Jones should be given another chance to learn from his mistake.
In conclusion, there was lots to feel good about after week 1. Mistakes will always be there to see in these young players’ careers, but you hope to see promise.
– Thomas Herd is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the Los Angeles Chargers. Follow him on Twitter