So many things went wrong against the Packers on Sunday that it’s difficult to not write FIX EVERYTHING when it comes to what the Los Angeles Chargers should do moving into Week 12. But I’ll give it a shot! Here are a few of the many things the Chargers can do to win against the Ravens:
5 Things To Win Chargers vs Ravens
1. Don’t Make Justin Herbert Be Superman
Justin Herbert was doing everything on Sunday and that includes a lot of rushing. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), he had 73 rushing yards this past game, the most he’s had all season. Herbert’s a mobile quarterback but not a frequent rusher unless he’s avoiding pressure, so sometimes it’s great to see a big run from him. But other times he’s running because he’s compensating.
Herbert said during his post-game press conference that when there’s nothing open downfield, you sometimes just have to take off and run. Herbert was sacked twice this last game and on top of trying to avoid pressure, his offense was having a day of dropped passes. He did all those rushes in order to keep the drives alive, and when your quarterback has to do too much on offense, it’s a recipe for disaster. Herbert needs help from his offense in order to make sure he and the team are successful not only in this next matchup but in future ones.
2. The Drops Have to Stop
If the last game was a Friends episode it would be, “The One Where Everyone Dropped The Ball.” We got some dropped passes from two tight ends (Stone Smartt and Donald Parham), a running back (Austin Ekeler, though his drop was a fumble), and some receivers (Keenan Allen and Quentin Johnston).
Allen in particular had three drops, including at the goal line during the third quarter where the ball ricocheted off his chest. Johnston meanwhile bobbled a pass at the 35, dashing the Chargers hopes to get that first down and rectify their three-point deficit at the end of the game.
According to PFF, the Ravens are ranked second in receiver coverage and much of that success can be attributed to linebacker Roquan Smith, and safeties Geno Stone and Kyle Hamilton, as all of them have coverage grades in the 80s, while Stone has a grade of 90. There will be a lot of turnovers if there’s a repeat performance of this past Sunday for this Chargers offense. All these players need to clean it up.
3. Keep Lamar Jackson Contained
A lot of things went wrong on Sunday but at least the pass rush did a couple of things right and caused a few sacks. Jackson is known as being a “run first, pass later” quarterback and though he’s dialed that mentality back in recent years, when he does run, he can really advance a drive. The pass rush needs to be on point to keep him in the pocket. It’ll be up to the whole edge rusher unit to step up in a big way, especially with Joey Bosa going on injured reserve with a foot injury.
4. Involve the Tight Ends More In the Receiving Game
Despite the drop from Smartt, he also had his first-ever NFL touchdown on a wide-open catch and run down the sideline. Donald Parham also had an unfortunate drop at the 32 on a fourth-and-4 but also got a few first downs during the fourth quarter.
The receiving targets for the tight ends this year are low and some of that is because there have been some injuries to Parham and Gerald Everett. Parham, Smartt, and Everett may not be the best pass or run blockers but can make plays, so they should be targeted more to take some of the burden off the wide receivers.
5. Stop The Explosive Plays
Similar to “contain the quarterback” some variation of “stop explosive plays” is also on my list this week because the Chargers just cannot have one game without them. Packers wide receiver Jayden Reed was often wide open on the field, while wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks had his most receiving yards of the season at 91.
Cornerback Michael Davis ended last season with a receiver coverage grade of 74.7 and is currently sitting at 49.4. Cornerback Asante Samuel Jr.’s tackling grade was the worst it’s been all season on Sunday at 25.9. These guys are not the only ones to blame for all these plays but they’re not helping.
Linebacker Eric Kendricks has also not been the steading, communicative force this defense needs to make sure plays like this don’t happen. The Ravens have weapons like running back Gus Edwards, rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers, and even wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. that will run all over this defense if they let them. And the Chargers can’t keep giving up these free plays if they’re going to remain competitive.
Something’s amiss in the entire team but certainly in the defense that needs to be cleared up ASAP.