Theoretically the Chargers could be undefeated right now but I suppose there is no point getting into that existential theory. Right now all I can think about is how and or why the Chargers lost to a team that they should have had an easy win against. The answer is simple, and that’s a lack of discipline all around. This week I want to keep this short as we are all frustrated and there are just not a whole lot of positives to go over. The two positives I want to address are the fact that the chemistry between rookie quarterback Justin Herbert and star wide out Keenan Allen keeps growing stronger. Allen caught 11 of 19 targets for 136 yards and a touchdown. That actually accounts for 33% of the teams total targets. Also since I’m going over the fact that there is such a lack of discipline I want to also say that I’m including coach Anthony Lynn’s post game as a positive. Lynn acknowledged that the team had a lack of discipline and that he puts the loss on himself and blames nobody else than himself for the team showing a complete lack of discipline. I count this as a positive because the first step in correcting or fixing anything is awareness and acknowledgment. As much as people are jumping on Lynn and rightfully so, we have to remember that when he was hired he had basically no experience as a head coach or coordinator. He is and has been essentially learning on the job so if he is acknowledging a lack of discipline then we must wait and see if he instills it into the team. After all this team is notorious for its slow starts.
What needs to be cleaned up:
First thing that comes to mind is the penalty the team received on a field goal block after they had successfully stopped the offense forcing them to kick. This then gave Carolina a first down and lead to a touchdown which ended up being the difference. The penalty was on Damion Square for lining up over the center which is illegal on special teams. These are simple things that are gone over in practice over and over and if it wasn’t that that is again on the coaching staff, especially the special teams coordinator. Square is average on a good day so why he is getting so many reps over young players at the same position that could potentially grow into good players is beyond me. Now when he starts making mistakes that cost the games then we need to start bringing up this question. I understand they value his veteran leadership but when bonehead mistakes like this are taking place it’s hard to put too much value into that type of thing. I stand by this point even more when you consider he has a 59.0 run defensive grade and zero quarterback pressures to go with it. Maybe the team should consider letting Cortez Broughton get some reps.
After watching this last week’s game Charger fans are well aware that the offensive line issues remain the same as last year. The team signed right tackle Bryan Bulaga and traded for right guard Trai Turner. While these are great additions, through 3 weeks one cannot help but to think that these guys are just band aids for a really big issue. Turner did not play this week and Bulaga left the game early on and it became apparent that these two additions did not solve the issue at all. While they are great additions they only begin to solve a much bigger issue and that is that this position group still needs a overhaul and rebuild. In fact I was surprised that the team did not draft a single o lineman this past draft. Feeney and Lamp are both free agents after this year and we all know Sam Tevi isn’t the answer at left tackle. Second year man Trey Pipkins is the only lineman who doesn’t look like he improved under new offensive line coach James Capmen. This leads me to believe that he may be uncoachable because most of his issues are with sloppy technique. If this is the case I would not be mad if they cut him even before his contract is up. Pipkins grade out with a 32.9 pass protecting grade which is god awful. I also mentioned that Turner missed the game and Ryan Groy is the player who filled in at right guard and also had a poor grade with 25.0 pass protection grade but an 88 grade in the run department. I’m aware this area of need can’t be addressed until after the season as they are not likely to make a trade but a serious rehaul is needed.
Lastly the turnovers are a killer and that’s no secret. In fact there were 3 of them (2 fumbles and 1 interception). The first fumble came directly from the last topic of poor pass protection as Herbert had his throwing arm hit from behind and was ultimately ruled a fumble. For the record I did not agree with the call and thought it should have been an incomplete pass yet the pass protection still needs improvement. The second fumble came on a run in which rookie running back Joshua Kelley had a defender who was approaching from behind have his knee knock the ball out of his hand. Now I’m not going to prosecute Kelley for this as it was his first turn over and seemed to be an accidental thing as the defender didn’t even appear to be going for a strip of the ball. Kelley’s arm was just motioning back as the defender from behinds knee was going up. If fumbles become more consistent with him then it would be an issue to keep an eye on. The interception however was just a poor read on the part of a rookie quarterback. I’m not sure if his clock in his head to get rid of the ball was going off from all the pressure he was under all day or if he thought it was a safe throw in that moment. Interceptions were not uncommon with him at Oregon so it would be another trend to keep an eye on. It’s still only his second game so again I don’t want to prosecute him for this just yet.