NFL

Chargers once more demonstrate their difficulties when up against the NFL’s top offenses

Brandon Staley’s leadership has proven effective in shutting down less challenging offenses for the Los Angeles Chargers. However, when facing the NFL’s elite teams, the team’s defense seems to struggle. In their recent game against the Detroit Lions, the Chargers encountered a rare situation in NFL history.

Despite scoring touchdowns on their final five drives, they lost the game. The team continuously equalized the score but couldn’t take the lead. Ultimately, the Lions claimed victory with a 41-38 score through a 41-yard field goal by Riley Patterson at the last second.

Head coach Brandon Staley of the Los Angeles Chargers reacts from the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Gregory Bull)
Head coach Brandon Staley of the Los Angeles Chargers reacts from the sideline during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Gregory Bull)

Unfortunately, the Chargers’ defense couldn’t force quick outs, secure any sacks, and allowed a 300-yard passer (Jared Goff), a 100-yard rusher (David Montgomery), and a 100-yard receiver (Amon-Ra St. Brown). This mirrored a similar performance from the previous season.

Staley, who previously led the Rams’ defense to a Super Bowl victory in the 2020 season, found himself defending the Chargers’ capabilities when questioned about their ability to handle top-tier offenses.

He expressed confidence in the team he’s coached for nine games, believing they possess the skill to compete against any opponent. Despite their 4-5 record and being a work in progress, he emphasized their potential across offense, defense, and special teams.

Deane Leonard (33) of the Los Angeles Chargers intercepts a pass intended for Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Gregory Bull)
Deane Leonard (33) of the Los Angeles Chargers intercepts a pass intended for Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Gregory Bull)

Looking ahead to the upcoming games, Staley emphasized the importance of focusing on the upcoming Green Bay match. While he had recently expressed confidence in the team’s progress and consistency, he acknowledged that their performance against certain quarterbacks like Tagovailoa, Prescott, Mahomes, and Goff fell short of the standard set.

The run defense, previously sturdy in the season, struggled, allowing a season-high 200 yards with an average of 6.5 yards per carry. This performance marked the ninth play and sixth touchdown of at least 40 rushing yards allowed by the Chargers since Staley took over in 2021.

Staley, renowned for leading the Rams’ defense to a Super Bowl victory in 2020, found himself justifying the Chargers’ abilities when questioned about their aptitude against top-tier offenses.

He exuded confidence in the team he’d coached for nine games, firmly believing they had the necessary skills to take on any opponent. Despite their 4-5 record and the team being a work in progress, he underscored their potential across offense, defense, and special teams.

Looking towards their upcoming games, Staley stressed the significance of focusing on the forthcoming Green Bay match. Despite previously expressing confidence in the team’s development and consistency, he admitted their performance against specific quarterbacks such as Tagovailoa, Prescott, Mahomes, and Goff had not met the established standard.

The run defense, initially robust in the season, struggled, yielding a season-high 200 yards at an average of 6.5 yards per carry. This performance marked the ninth occurrence and the sixth touchdown of at least 40 rushing yards allowed by the Chargers since Staley assumed his role in 2021.

WHAT’S WORKING

Depth in the receiving corps was evident as Quentin Johnston and Jalen Guyton stepped up significantly when Keenan Allen had to sit out part of the second half due to a shoulder injury. Johnston made an impactful NFL debut by securing his first touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the Detroit 1 in the fourth quarter, ending with four receptions for 34 yards.

Guyton, contributing four catches for 41 yards, notably scored an 18-yard touchdown in the third quarter, marking his first touchdown since Week 15 in 2021 against Kansas City. Guyton had faced setbacks, including a knee injury in Week 3 of the previous season and missing the first seven games this year.

Despite Allen’s absence for a portion of the game, he delivered an exceptional performance, amassing 11 catches for 175 yards and scoring two touchdowns.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The performance in the running game saw Austin Ekeler managing 67 yards on 19 carries, encountering four attempts that resulted in no gain or negative yardage. Despite an impressive start with a league-high 230 yards in Week 1, the Chargers have since struggled, averaging only 84.3 rushing yards per game, ranking fourth-lowest in the league. Over the last eight games, their average of 3.44 yards per carry stands as the second-worst in the league during this period.

STOCK UP

Following a career-low of 136 passing yards in the Jets game, Herbert swiftly rebounded, marking the 25th 300-yard game in his career. Notably, he surpassed Peyton Manning, setting a new record for the most passing yards in the first four seasons of an NFL career. Herbert stands at 16,438 yards, edging past Manning’s 16,418 yards achieved from 1998 to 2001 with the Indianapolis Colts.

STOCK DOWN

Alohi Gilman, the safety, yielded four receptions totaling 110 yards. Additionally, Gilman’s attempted diving tackle resulted in a miss, inadvertently obstructing cornerback Deane Leonard, allowing Montgomery to sprint 75 yards for a touchdown.

INJURIES

Linebacker Chris Rumpf II will undergo surgery and join the injured reserve list following a foot fracture sustained during pregame warmups. Allen made a comeback in the fourth quarter, securing a crucial 38-yard touchdown that leveled the game at 38-all. Tight end Gerald Everett was absent in the second half due to a back issue.

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