What We Saw: Week 12

The What We Saw team recaps everything you missed from Week 12

Chargers @ Cardinals

Final Score: Chargers 25, Cardinals 24

Writer: Dave Cherman (@DaveCherman on Twitter)


This matchup was a back and forth battle between two disappointing West Coast teams thought to be Super Bowl contenders entering the year. The Chargers offense came out completely flat, with just one first down on their first three drives while the Cardinals built up a 10 point lead off the back of an impressive DeAndre Hopkins touchdown. The Chargers battled back in the second quarter, but a late Kyler Murray rushing touchdown put the birds up 17-14 entering the break.


While Kyler Murray managed a 4th quarter score to go up 24-17, it was Justin Herbert‘s day to reign supreme, capping a game-winning drive with a 2-point conversion to Gerald Everett with 16 seconds left.



Despite some social media bashing of Herbert over the last week for the way the Chiefs game ended, Herbert has actually been pretty elite at orchestrating late-game comebacks in his career.



That’s insane. In fact, the 27.9% rate is the highest of any active QB with at least 10 game-winning drives. Yes, part of that stat is the context that the Chargers require more game-winning drives than some other teams, but it’s a testament to his late-game play.


Los Angeles Chargers





Justin Herbert: 35/47, 274 Yards, 3 TD | 4 Carries, 38 Yards


After a very slow start, Justin Herbert looked excellent in the second and early-third quarters, picking up repeated chunk gains underneath. Yes, we all want Herbert to unleash these 50-yard bombs, but with Jalen Guyton, the only Charger with the deep speed to regularly stretch the defense, out for the season, and Mike Williams, one of the premier 50/50 ball receivers in football out, Herbert was never in a position to air it out.

The offensive line improved in the second quarter, but All-Pro center Corey Linsley left with a concussion and starting right tackle Trey Pipkins left, potentially aggravating his knee injury from a few weeks ago, meaning Herbert didn’t have enough time to get the ball to receivers in the second half and the offense ground to a complete halt. The 4th quarter drive was an elite display of pocket awareness and quick-throw ability, as Herbert routinely got rid of the ball under pressure.



Chargers fans wait with baited breath if Corey Linsley avoided a concussion. Without him, this offense struggles significantly.


Running Back


Austin Ekeler: 5 Carries, 20 Yards | 15 Targets, 11 Receptions, 60 Yards, TD

Joshua Kelley: 2 Carries, 4 Yards | 3 Targets, 2 Receptions, 16 Yards

Isaiah Spiller: 2 Carries, 3 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 2 Yards


Austin Ekeler is such a talented pass catcher with excellent hands. The line could not give him any rushing room, but he created so much in the passing game, routinely beating men in space, getting open for important first downs, and fighting into the end zone on the final drive of the game. The versatility he brings to this offense is unmatched by almost anyone.



After a few weeks out with a knee injury, Joshua Kelley was back to being the primary backup already, which perhaps says more about how they feel about the other RBs on the roster than anything else. Isaiah Spiller never really generated much in the backup role, paving the way for Kelley to return, but Sony Michel has been relegated to the bench, completely replaced by Spiller, who really didn’t factor into today’s contest.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Keenan Allen: 7 Targets, 5 Receptions, 49 Yards, TD

Joshua Palmer: 7 Targets, 5 Receptions, 56 Yards

DeAndre Carter: 10 Targets, 7 Receptions, 73 Yards, TD

Gerald Everett: 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 18 Yards


It is impossible to have a discussion about the success of the Chargers’ offense all season, without discussing how talented Keenan Allen is. The Chargers’ first TD was the result of great route running by Allen. Coming across the formation pre-snap, Allen feigned slowing down, only to accelerate out of the snap and get open near the pylon.



Allen fell quiet for much of the game, as did the rest of the Chargers’ offense, so his overall stat line leaves a bit to be desired. However, he looked healthy all day.

Joshua Palmer is breaking out in front of our eyes. His hands and route running are significantly improved over last season and even earlier this season, getting open when they need him 0n 3rd downs. Today was more of the same with a few big time 3rd down pickups.

As long as one of the Chargers’ top 3 receivers is out, there will always be the chance of a DeAndre Carter breakout game. In the second quarter, he simply found a soft spot in the defense, getting open on broken coverage for his 33-yard TD, the team’s first of the day.



In his first game back from a groin injury, Gerald Everett was a non-factor.


Arizona Cardinals




Kyler Murray: 18/29, 191 Yards, 2 TD, INT | 7 Carries, 56 Yards, TD


By far, Kyler Murray‘s best skill in this game was his mobility, routinely extending plays and picking up chunk yardage with his legs when his receivers couldn’t get open. He flashed it again on his touchdown to cap off the first half.


Besides that, Murray was pretty average as a passer. He had a bad interception on 4th and 1, which led to some social media fun, but this breakdown on the 4th and 1 play is quite interesting.

Outside of some nice completions to Hopkins (of which there were several), the passing game stalled pretty consistently, particularly at the end of the game. The Cardinals got three possessions in the last 7 minutes up by a touchdown, but couldn’t get a single first down, which led to the Chargers even having an opportunity.



Hopefully, Brown is eased back in over the next week to give Kyler more deep-ball opportunities.


Running Back


James Conner: 25 Carries, 120 Yards | 3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 20 Yards, TD | 1 Fumble (Lost)

Keaontay Ingram: 2 Carries, 5 Yards


You could drive a truck through James Conner’s rushing lanes today. He looked good, shaking off contact repeatedly, but it didn’t feel like he was creating the majority of the yardage. That feeling is backed up by data, this from the third quarter:



Regardless, Conner put up a massive game and handled an elite workload, though any starting running back should be able to produce against this front. Still, credit where credit is due, as Conner showed nice route running and balance on his touchdown catch.



Rookie Keaontay Ingram had just 2 carries. He’s not a factor in the offense.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


DeAndre Hopkins: 6 Targets, 4 Receptions, 87 Yards, TD

Marquise Brown: 8 Targets, 6 Receptions, 46 Yards

Robbie Anderson: 3 Targets, 1 Reception, 17 Yards

Trey McBride: 3 Targets, 1 Reception, 1 Yard


In the first quarter, DeAndre Hopkins showed elite balance on his TD reception, immediately spinning away from contact, then shaking off a tackle to get in for the first TD of the game.



This was pedestrian, by Hopkins’ standards, as the veteran superstar unleashed an unreal catch later in the day, albeit for a short gain.



In our first look at Hopkins and Marquise Brown on the same field, Brown operated mostly as a checkdown and underneath target. Sadly, nobody else really existed in the offense, as Trey McBride has failed to carve out a role in the post-Zach Ertz days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.