Another Sunday has come and gone and unfortunately, the Chargers are already 0-2 on the season with a loss to the Titans, 27 to 24 during overtime. Here are some takeaways from Chargers vs. Titans
Chargers vs. Titans Takeaways
The Run Game Never Got Started
The Chargers had a team total of 234 rushing yards last week, while this week they only had 61. Running back Joshua Kelley had the most rushing yards at 39, while Elijah Dotson had six, and Isaiah Spiller had three. Austin Ekeler is the king of all things rushing and without his presence, the run game was lacking. Head Coach Brandon Staley said there is no timetable for Ekeler’s return from his ankle injury. Ekeler described his timetable as ‘day-to-day, week-to-week.’
The Run and Pass Blocking Didn’t Hold Up
The run blocking was definitely off this week, which was another reason Kelley and others just couldn’t get going.
The pass blocking was also an issue. Justin Herbert was sacked three times. Once during the first drive of the first quarter by defensive end Denico Autry, causing a three-and-out. Another was during the third quarter by defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons. The last was right before overtime by edge rusher Harold Landry III, and afterward, the Chargers made their field goal to tie the game 24 to 24. The sack count has gone up since last week and that’s not great so early in the season.
The Pass Rush Was Back
It’s amazing the Titans won, given the Chargers had multiple sacks on the day. Most notably rookie edge rusher Tuli Tuipulotu had his first sack of his NFL career, while defensive lineman Morgan Fox had one as did Joey Bosa. Bosa and Khalil Mack looked more like themselves this week, and Mack even had a batted pass during the start of the third quarter. Despite the increased pressure and (for the most part) containing Derrick Henry, the receiver coverage and other aspects of the defense were not where they needed to be.
Overall The Defense Still Needs Work
Titans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins didn’t have the most receiving yards but made receptions where it counted. In the first drive of the third, cornerback J.C. Jackson tackled Hopkins after he had already made the catch for a first down. And in the fourth quarter, Hopkins got a catch for 14 yards to get inside the 15. Derwin James rushed to tackle him after the reception. After that play, there was a roughing the passer call on linebacker Kenneth Murray, resulting in the Titans moving to first and goal.
During the second quarter, an explosive play occurred where wide receiver Treylon Burks caught a long pass for 70 yards and cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. hopelessly chased after him. Burks almost made it into the end zone before Samuel brought him down. This is exactly the type of play the Chargers were trying to avoid as there was no one to help Samuel in the backfield.
And in terms of run defense, running back Tyjae Spears broke quite a few tackles for an 11-yard gain and a first down during the third quarter. The Chargers seem to be making the same mistakes. And these explosive plays with only one lone soul trying to contain them, feels very much like the 2022 Chargers.
Wide Receiver Keenan Allen Is Aging in Reverse
Allen had eight receptions, tied with Mike Williams for the most of the night. He also had 111 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. He’s still as reliable as he’s been in years past and *fingers crossed* if he stays healthy he will have a productive season.
It’s Not Yet Clear Where Wide Receiver Quentin Johnston Fits
Quentin Johnston hasn’t played many snaps over the last two games, and while he’s made a few receptions, he hasn’t had a breakout moment yet like Minnesota wide receiver Jordan Addison or Baltimore’s Zay Flowers. Allen and Williams continue to be effective and some of the favorite targets of Herbert, while Josh Palmer is also still in the mix. It’ll take time for Johnston to make a name amongst all the talent.