The 2020 Los Angeles Chargers went into the Week 6 bye, 1-4. It wasn’t supposed to look that way. So who is to blame?
WEEK 1 | CHARGERS 16 – BENGALS 13
The Chargers started off the season on the road against a rookie quarterback on a team that had previously gone 2-14. They left the field with a “W” obtained when Bengals kicker Randy Bullock experienced “a cramp in his leg” and missed a 31-yard field goal that would have sent the game into overtime.
- The Chargers defense was responsible for three sacks and an interception.
- Quarterback Tyrod Taylor stats: 16-of-30, 208 passing yards, two sacks, six carries for seven yards.
- Running back Austin Ekeler stats: 19 carries, 84 yards, one target, one reception, three yards.
- Tight End Hunter Henry: eight targets, five receptions for 73 yards (Mike Williams was the most targeted with nine but only had four receptions for 69 yards).
- Cornerback Casey Hayward led the team with 12 tackles.
- Defensive End Joey Bosa, Uchenna Nwosu, and defensive tackle Jerry Tillery each had one sack.
WEEK 2 | KANAS CITY CHIEFS 23 – CHARGERS 20 (OT)
Just before the coin toss to start the game, rookie Justin Herbert (and the rest of the team) found out that he would be the starting quarterback. The situation occurred when a team doctor accidentally punctured Taylor’s lung when attempting to administer a pain killer for his ribs.
- Mahomes finished the game 27-of-47, 302 yards, and two touchdowns.
- On the final four drives, Mahomes went 18-of-25, 222 yards, and two touchdowns.
- After not seeing a pass in the first half, Hill finished the game 5-99-1, the one touchdown being a 54-yard reception and run in the fourth quarter after he got past both Chris Harris Jr. and Nasir Adderley.
- The Chiefs did not have a lead in the game until Harrison Butker‘s 58-yard winning field goal in overtime.
- Justin Herbert stats: 22-of-33, 311 yards, one touchdown, one interception, two sacks, four carries, 18 yards, one rushing touchdown.
- Ekeler stats: 16 carries, 93 yards, four targets, four receptions 55 yards.
- Allen stats: 10 targets, seven reception, 96 yards.
- Rookie linebacker, Kenneth Murray, led the team with 10 total tackles.
- Bosa had one sack.
WEEK 3 | CAROLINA PANTHERS 21 – CHARGERS 16
The Panthers entered SoFi Stadium on a 10 game losing streak that began last season. They were without running back Christian McCaffrey and coached by new head coach Matt Rhue.
With six seconds left, an end-zone pass from Herbert to Allen was broken up by Tre Boston.
On the final desperation play of the game at the Carolina 15, Allen’s lateral to Ekeler was too high.
The Panthers’ defense forced three turnovers all resulting in points scored.
- Herbert stats: 35-of-49, 330 yards, one touchdown, one interception, two sacks, three carries, 15 yards, two fumbles.
- Ekeler stats: 12 carries, 59 yards, one touchdown, 11 targets, 84 yards.
- Allen stats: 19 targets, 13 receptions, 132 yards, one touchdown.
- Linebacker Kyzir White led the team with 11 total tackles.
- Bosa and safety Rayshawn Jenkins both had one sack.
WEEK 4 | CHARGERS 31 – TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS 38
The narrative of this game turned out to be that Herbert went toe-to-toe with the GOAT Tom Brady (even though neither were on the field at the same time).
The Chargers lead going into the half should have been at least 24 to 7. But with 38 seconds until half, Ndamukong Suh forced a fumble from running Joshua Kelly on the Chargers nine-yard line. The Buccaneers scored giving them momentum and narrowing the halftime gap to 24-14.
Stop if you heard this before…in the first half of the game, Brady only managed 4-of-11 of passes going 10 plus yards for 57 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
In the second half on the same type of passes, Brady completed 7-of-8, 197 yards, and three touchdowns.
Ekeler left the game with an injury and was later put on IR
- Herbert stats: 20-of-25, 290 yards, three touchdowns, one interception, two sacks, five carries 14 yards.
- Ekeler stats: two carries, 12 yards, one target, one reception two yards (the sad fact is that Ekeler was the second leading rusher behind Herbert).
- Allen 12 targets, eight receptions, 62 yards.
- Jalen Guyton one target, one reception, 72 yards, one touchdown.
- Murray and White tied for leading tackles with 10 total.
- Cornerback Michael Davis had one interception.
WEEK 5 | CHARGERS 27 – NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 30 (OT)
Stop if you heard this…the Saints never led in the game until the overtime kick for the win.
This is the second game the Chargers blew a 17-point lead, and the second overtime loss both squandering the lead.
- Herbert stats: 20-of-34, 264 yards, four touchdowns, three sacks, four carries, eight yards, one fumble.
- Justin Jackson stats: 15 carries, 71 yards, six targets, five receptions, 23 yards.
- Mike Williams stats: eight targets, five receptions, 109 yards, two touchdowns.
- Hunter Henry stats: eight targets, four receptions, 23 yards, one touchdown.
- Linebacker Kyzir White: 15 total tackles.
- Nwosu and Bosa had one sack each.
- Adderley had one interception.
THE BLAME GAME
Chris Graythen of the Associated Press describes the season so far for the Chargers, ” …the Los Angeles Chargers keep squandering the heady play of promising rookie quarterback Justin Herbert.”
Is he wrong? It is hard to argue with a team that consistently loses games by seven points or less. Two losses in overtime in games in which they led the entirety except for the final score.
Sure in the MNF fiasco with the Saints the kicker Michael Badgley missed a point-after kick and the 50-yarder with time expiring that would have won the game. But is that the cause or the symptom?
It is apparently the same story with different players. In 2019 The Ringer loudly proclaimed, ” Marked by boneheaded plays and historic futility in one-score games, the Philip Rivers era has revolutionized the art of losing in the NFL.”
Well, Rivers is gone and the Herbert era so far looks eerily similar. So Charger Nation who do is to blame now?
The Offensive Coordinator Who Scales Back the Aggressiveness in Second Half?
The Head Coach Who Has Steered This Team During These Losses?
The Rookie Quarterback?
The Chargers have a -3 turnover differential. The defense has three interceptions and one fumble while the offense has three interceptions and four fumbles. They are not winning the takeover game, which was precisely one of the problems from last year.
Preseason expectations were that yes, they would probably lose the game to the Kansas City Chiefs and okay maybe to the Saints also (although no one expected the Saints to struggle as they have) so maybe 3-2 entering Week 6?
But watching them play, there is an argument to be made that they could have easily entered Week 6, 5-0. There wasn’t a game that they could not have won…but for that missed field goal, or the inopportune interception or fumble. Why?
Take the poll and forget the easy answers. Who do you think is to blame Charger Nation? Tell us what you think?
Come talk to me on Twitter @neverenoughglt
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