Sun, 04 Dec 2022

Eric Smith

Welcome to Week 3.

Here are five final thoughts ahead of the Chargers-Jaguars matchup:

1. Chase Daniel ready if needed

In Week 4 of the 2019 season, Chase Daniel was the Bears backup quarterback when the Vikings came to Chicago.

On the sixth play of the game, then-Bears starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky was injured, thrusting Daniel into action in a crucial division tilt.

The quarterback was solid against the Vikings, completing 22 of 30 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. Daniel, who posted a passer rating of 101.4, led the Bears to a 16-6 win.

Ahhh, the life of a backup quarterback.

"I think I've just got a really good routine that I've trusted," Daniel said Friday in the Chargers locker room. "Everyone is different. It's gotten me 14 years in the league to the point where every single game I go out there, I feel really prepared to run the entire game plan.

"It's a lot of work, a lot of mental anguish at times because you learn the plays every week and you're not allowed to go out there and do them and actually practice them," Daniel added. "But, that's the life of a backup."

Chargers starting quarterback Justin Herbert is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Jaguars with a rib injury. If Herbert does not play, Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley Daniel would start, with Easton Stick as the backup.

Staley said he has full confidence in Daniel if he were to see the field, especially after seeing him take first-team reps this week in practice.

"Chase looked like how he always looks - steady, poise, command, accurate, tough, all of the things that Chase is known for," Staley said. "Our team really believes in him and Easton because they've proven that every day in practice.

"[Daniel] attacks the plan the same way, and that's part of the reason why he has been so successful in the league," Staley added.

As for Daniel, he's prepared for whatever happens over the next few days.

"That's sort of why you play the game, it's why you're a backup quarterback," Daniel said. [I've] been in the league for 14 years, I've had a lot of these crazy, unknown weeks. That's sort of what it was this week.

"I've had an entire week to prepare as a starter, I've gone in during a game, I've gone 24 hours on a 72-hour turnaround on Thanksgiving to play," Daniel added. "One week in 2014, Alex Smith almost burst his spleen and I found out Thursday night, so I got Friday's reps. I guess that's part of the deal as a backup. You're expected to go in and if you play, play well."

Daniel has appeared in 71 career games with five starts, with his last coming in Week 5 of the 2019 season, one game after he relieved Trubisky early in the first quarter at Solider Field.

"I feel really good about where we're at as a team, where we're at as an offense," Daniel said. "If my number gets called, I'll try my best to be ready."

He later added: "I'm just going to go out there and try to execute the offense."

2. Allen 50/50 to for return in Week 3

The Chargers listed four players as questionable for Sunday's game in Herbert, Corey Linsley, Donald Parham, Jr. and Keenan Allen.

Staley on Friday said that Allen is considered a 50/50 chance to play. Allen was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday but did not participate on Friday.

"We were able to see him, you guys were able to see him, [Thursday] at practice," Staley said. "We wanted to make sure that we gave him a day of rest, and then see how it is over the next 48 hours. I think he will be more of a game-time decision."

Allen spoke in the locker room Thursday and described what it would take for him to be able to suit up against Jacksonville.

"You just got to have that dog, it's about having that dog, being a warrior, not giving up and always feeling like you can make it to the next play," Allen said. "definitely adrenaline, but you got to have that dog to get to the adrenaline for sure."

If Allen does not play, he reiterated his confidence in the rest of the wide receiver group to make plays in his absence.

"It's great, that's what we work all offseason for, me and DeAndre [Carter] have been working out for about seven years in the offseason now so I know what he's capable of," Allen said. "He definitely has the talent he can get out there and make the plays that we all make.

"Josh [Palmer] obviously has been great ever since he's been here so just having the abilities to have the next man up and keep the offense going," Allen added.

3. Aware of quick throws from Lawrence

The Chargers have praised Jaguars second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence all week in advance of Sunday's matchup.

And one area they are focused on is Lawrence's penchant for quick throws, which oftentimes mean pass attempts that are fewer than 20 yards down the field.

Lawrence completed 25 of 30 passes for 235 yards with two scores in Week 2 against the Colts.

But as this chart from NFL's Next Gen Stats shows, nearly all of Lawrence's pass attempts were of the shorter variety.

"I think he does a good job of distributing the ball when he has to get rid of it," said Chargers defensive lineman Morgan Fox. "I think he knows that we have a pretty good pass rush so he's not going to hold onto it and try to get hit. I think he a does a good job trying to get rid of the ball especially when he needs to."

Lawrence is tied for 20th among all quarterbacks so far this season in completions of 20-plus yards with five. (That's pass plays that go for at least 20 yards, not 20-yard throws in the air).

Either way, Fox said the Bolts have a plan if Lawrence tries to get rid of the ball quickly and pick up chunk plays rather than doing for deeper passes.

"You know he's just going to get the ball out quick, you've got to get your hands up to try to knock it down," Fox said. "If we can't get to him and get a hit on him, then we've got to get our hands up and at least try to knock the ball down or at least get in the throwing lane."

Lawrence has been sacked just twice through two games. Jacksonville's allowed sack rate of 2.78 percent is the third-best in the NFL.

4. An eye on the Jaguars running backs

The Chargers are prepared for Jacksonville's two-headed attack at running back.

The Jaguars featured a pair of talented backs in James Robinson and Travis Etienne, both of whom offer different skillsets out of the backfield.

"Both talented runners. We talked about their one-cut, downhill running," said Chargers Defensive Coordinator Renaldo Hill. "Obviously, Etienne in the passing game. Both of them can make you miss. Good complements to each other. We have our hands full.

"We definitely have to do a good job of wrapping up with these guys because you've seen a ton of people make contact and fall off," Hill added. "These guys get excess yards, so we have to do a good job of making sure that we get a lot of a lot of guys to the ball."

Through two games, Robinson has 34 carries for 130 yards and two rushing scores. He's also added three catches for 17 yards and a receiving touchdown.

Etienne, meanwhile, has 13 carries for 67 yards, but has added five receptions for 51 yards.

Jacksonville ranks 17th in the NFL by averaging 109.5 rushing yards per game.

5. No trap games

The Chargers and Jaguars are both 1-1 on the young season, with each team winning at home and losing on the road so far in 2022.

But the Bolts know this is a different Jacksonville team than they faced in 2020, when the Bolts earned a 39-29 win at SoFi Stadium in Week 7.

The Jaguars employ a different head coach and have notable turnover throughout their roster, including at key positions.

But Jacksonville is also riding an 18-game road losing streak, as the Jaguars last road win came in Week 15 of the 2019 season. That was a 20-16 win over the Raiders when they were still located in Oakland.

Fox said the message in the locker room this week is that there are simply no easy games in the league. And Jacksonville's 24-0 win over Indianapolis in Week 2 raised some eyebrows.

"Exactly that. We're in the NFL, everyone is good here," Fox said. "You have to take everyone seriously whether a team hasn't won a road game in two years.

"They just came off a really big win and they just shut a team out, so if you don't think they can they can come in to somewhere and beat someone then you're out of your mind," Fox continued. "You have to understand that they are a good team, they have a good run game, a good quarterback and they're coached extremely well

"You definitely have to be prepared to be in a dogfight," Fox added.

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