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Staro 11-13-2018, 07:04 AM
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Početno Efficiency is the name of Ekeler’s game

It was almost one year ago to the day that Austin Ekeler took his first career carry 35 yards to the endzone against the eventual Super Bowl champion Eagles in last year’s week four contest.As fans erupted with joy and jubilation Los Angeles Chargers Hoodie , it inevitably turned into reserved optimism because, as they say, “one carry does not a career make.” But a little less than 365 days later, we are still seeing flashes and feeling the residuals from that unexpected performance.Going into the Chargers 2018 season, Ekeler is no longer a former-UDFA coasting by on his strong 2017 preseason performance which landed him on that year’s final 53-man roster. He is now the solidified RB2 on this team and retains a vice-grip on his roster spot that doesn’t look to be relinquished anytime soon.It was expected that Ekeler would see an inflation in playing time this season, regardless if tight end Hunter Henry was healthy and available. In the Bolts’ first game of the 2018 season, many of the fan base’s expectations came to fruition, and then some.As a runner, Ekeler received just a handful of carries against the Chiefs (5) compared to Gordon (15). But true to form, Ekeler’s average yards per tote was almost double Gordon’s (7.8 to 4.3).As receivers, both backs were pelted with targets in their comeback attempt. Gordon caught 9 of his 13 targets for 102 yards, averaging 11.3 per catch, while Ekeler caught all five of his for 87 yards, a touchdown, and a very healthy 17.4 yards average.For the game, he averaged 12.6 yards per touch.Gordon’s average, albeit on more than twice the touches, was just 6.9.It will never seem fair to compare their boxscores unless the two start to record comparable workloads but this theme has stayed the same since way back into last season and I don’t think it can be ignored much longer.The most satisfying thing about watching Ekeler play football is that he just has that uncanny, uncoachable ability to make plays when the team needs it the most. It’s usually the main difference between the players that are kinda good and the great players Customized Los Angeles Chargers Jerseys , the players that are recalled occasionally and the ones you just cannot forget.In the above play, Gordon is out wide to the left with Keenan Allen in the slot. Ekeler runs a traditional go-route while Allen runs a fade towards the sideline. Allen’s route incidentally takes him to Ekeler and when Rivers lets it rip, you can’t really tell who he’s trying to throw it to.The ball is just out of reach for Allen but also looked to be short of Ekeler, as well. Unsurprisingly, Ekeler put enough distance between him and his defender off the line that he was able to come to a stop for a full second and allow the ball to land in his arms before the defender could get back into position.This play kicked off the team’s third drive of the game, arguably one of the most important drives of the entire game, as the Chargers found themselves in an early 14-3 hole and were needing points about as bad as Kyle Posey needs a “no credit card minimum” at happy hour.They needed a play. Ekeler answered the call.Unpopular opinion time: Ekeler is the team’s most successful power-back.Here me out.At the end of the day, it does not matter how strong or heavy a running back is if they cannot fall forward after runs and grind out the two or three-yard gains necessary to keep drives moving in critical situations. Ekeler, all 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds of him, wins in these situations more than not.There’s nothing too flashy about this play from Ek, but the ending is just one of a plethora of examples that showcase his ability to finish runs. The stiff-arm on LB Anthony Hitchens is a nice touch, as well.I’m throwing this last play in here for good measure to really hammer home how Ekeler has a such grasp on the little things that a player can do to tack on an extra yard or two at the end of plays.It’s just a simple hesitation before he gets skinny and splits the defenders but again, it’s always been the little things with #30. They add up. As cliche as it is to say, there’s a reason why coaches and leaders beat the sentiment into the ground.I don’t know about you guys, but I’m excited. I’m excited to see if Ken Whisenhunt will continue to wise up and keep finding new and creative ways to get Ekeler on the field as the season goes on.I mean, and dare I say it, but good teams usually want their best running back on the field, right? The Miami Hurricanes invented the turnover chain. The Browns borrowed that idea.They've been stealing everything else lately.With eight interceptions and seven forced fumbles in just five games, Cleveland's defense leads the NFL with 15 takeaways — two more than the Browns got during 16 games in their winless 2017 season.The dramatic swing has helped the Browns (2-2-1) turn things around quickly while breeding confidence into a getting-better-by-the-week team that feels like it can do much more than simply compete this season.Creating turnovers has been a major emphasis of bombastic defensive coordinator Gregg Williams , who devotes large chunks of practice — Thursday's workout has been dubbed "Takeaway Thursday" — to drills geared toward getting the football.The Browns work on stripping it, tipping it, recovering it and doing anything in their power to gain possession. Then, they're doing it in games."It is what you do as a professional," said Pro Bowl linebacker Joe Schobert, who has two fumble recoveries and an interception. "You try to take stuff from the practice field to the game, apply it and be able to contribute and do it. The fact that we have been able to do it just shows how hard and how focused everybody on the defense has been this whole offseason and in training camp."We are just starting to see the rewards of our hard work."After finishing last in the league with a minus-28 turnover differential last season, the Browns are first at plus-8.They opened the season by forcing six turnovers against Pittsburgh, but failed to capitalize and ended up tying the Steelers 21-21.A plus-5 turnover differential almost always guarantees victory — teams with that margin are 132-4-1 since 1999. But although the Browns came up short, the defense's showing created confidence."You just go into the game expecting to get turnovers," said defensive back T.J. Carrie, part of Cleveland's revamped secondary. "In this league, quarterbacks and coordinators are so good at not giving up turnovers. So when you can go in as a defensive unit and say, 'We're guaranteed three turnovers this game, guaranteed. Play the way we play. Play fast.' That is contagious to the entire team."Rookie cornerback Denzel Ward has been Cleveland's top defensive thief with three interceptions, two in Week 1. He's also forced a fumble, recovered one and has given the Browns a defender that makes opponents wary.As he prepared to face the Browns on Sunday, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers took special note of Ward, the No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft."He obviously has good ball skills Los Angeles Chargers T-Shirt ," Rivers said. "If he gets an opportunity, he has made the play on it. It seems to be clear on things, too, that he is pretty savvy back there for a young player. He is not just, 'Oh, I am playing my coverage and I have my zone.'"The excessive forced turnovers have led to a direct carry-over for Cleveland's offense, which has been given better field position and more possessions.Rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield said it's imperative when the defense comes up with a big play, the offense follows with one of its own."We can really put a stamp on a game when the defense gets turnovers," said Mayfield, who passed for 342 yards in his second career start last week. "We need to take advantage of when they do get those turnovers. We need to turn those into points and really take the life out of the other team. We just have to continue to feed off of that because it is very rare that you get a defense like that, that has 15 this early."The Browns' burglary prompted linebacker Christian Kirksey to copy Miami's sideline celebration by placing a silver chain with a dangling orange dog bone trinket around neck of any defender who makes a big play."It's just something fun to do," Kirskey said. "Having it around just bring a lot of chemistry for us."Right now, the Browns are thick as thieves.NOTES: Offensive coordinator Todd Haley finally got to meet Snoop Dogg, who stopped in at Wednesday's practice. A die-hard Steelers fan, the rapper had been very critical of Haley's play calling when he coached in Pittsburgh. "We had a couple of rough years there," Haley said. "It got smoother over the last few and then him being out there and saying that he is a part of the Dawg Pound, we are good now. I can go back to listening to West Coast rap."
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