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Joshua Kelly Could Breakout Big Time with the NFL Chargers
July 20, 2023
This will be the fourth season in the young career of Joshua Kelley and it might just be the right time to breakout and become one of the most appealing RB2s in the NFL. Kelly’s debut came in 2020 after being drafted in the fourth round by the Los Angeles Chargers (112th overall) of that year’s draft. A breakout by Kelly would put the Chargers as one of the teams favored often by NFL Lines.
Kelley emerged as the apparent second-in-command behind Austin Ekeler in terms of touches, yards, and touchdowns among Chargers running backs, solidifying his position as a reliable backup after contending with Sony Michel early in the season and recovering from a sprained MCL that sidelined him for four games. As the campaign drew to a close, the 25-year-old carved out his role and aims to retain it for the upcoming season.
A New Offensive Coordinator Will Help Kelley’s Playtime
In a surprising move, the Cowboys bid farewell to their highly regarded offensive coordinator and play-caller, Kellen Moore, in the aftermath of their playoff defeat against the 49ers. Seizing the opportunity, the Chargers swiftly secured Moore’s services, appointing him to the same influential position in Los Angeles.
Moore’s inaugural press conference captivated the audience for various reasons, not least of which was his intriguing blueprint for maximizing Kelley’s potential. Reflecting on Kelley’s progress throughout the 2022 season, Moore expressed his admiration for the running back and conveyed his desire to cultivate a stable of two or three dependable backs, reminiscent of the successful Ezekiel Elliott/Tony Pollard duo he previously had the pleasure of working with in Dallas.
Anticipate a distinctive transformation in the Chargers’ offense under this new guidance. Moore prioritizes versatility and adaptability in his offensive schemes, poised to benefit the Chargers significantly. Last season, there were instances when LA’s offense appeared stagnant and struggled to move the ball down the field, but the introduction of these new schemes aims to eradicate those concerns entirely.
With Moore at the helm, the running backs are likely to witness the most substantial change as Moore’s creative utilization of backs diverges from the approach of former offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. To alleviate the burden on starter Austin Ekeler, the team will employ a more pronounced two-back system, which paves the way for an expanded role for Kelley.
Kelley’s Performance Will Improve with the Chargers Being Cautious with Ekeler
Kelley accumulated 287 yards on 69 carries in the previous season and scored two touchdowns. However, with Moore assuming play-calling duties, Kelley is poised to shoulder a significantly heavier workload. Moore’s affinity for employing 12 personnel and the added blocking presence will facilitate a zone-based scheme that grants the running backs improved vision to find openings and gain yards. This shift in strategy has the potential to unlock Kelley’s full potential, especially considering his proficiency between the tackles.
The former UCLA standout is poised to garner a more substantial share of the offensive load this season. The team aims to provide Ekeler with rest periods during games to ensure his freshness for the playoffs, and this is where Kelley can truly shine. Moore has a knack for elevating the performance of his running backs, and Kelley stands to benefit from his guidance.
Even a modest increase in Kelley’s productivity would be a victory for the Chargers. This offensive unit possesses the potential to rank among the league’s finest and be a serious contender with Kelley serving as a vital component of the puzzle and getting the Chargers some improved NFL Odds.