The Chargers need to improve in many areas if they hope to build off a successful 2018 season. One possibly overlooked area could be fixed immediately.
The Chargers have a laundry list of things to fix heading into 2019, which includes improving the offensive line, generating more interior pressure on defense, and winning at home. Those are major issues the organization needs to address, and hopefully has with their offseason acquisitions; however, one small, if not minor adjustment could be made to improve the team: Stop taking the ball out of the end zone on a turnover.
It seems simple, even silly, but it’s something that was puzzling to watch as a fan last year. Here’s one of a number of examples:
Melvin Ingram atrapa un intento de pase de Derek Carr en la zona de anotación ???
— NFL México (@nflmx) October 7, 2018
Why take the ball out, as a defensive end, and run right into the offensive line? Melvin Ingram made it a whopping four yards before being brought down. Fortunately, the Chargers would take the ball 96 yards for a touchdown in a game they would win easily. But what happens when this critical error is made in a tight game?
Against the Los Angeles Rams, Derwin James made a fantastic drive-ending interception in the end zone in a close 6-14 game. However, following the pick, James took the ball to the one-yard line, putting the offense in a precarious situation against a stout defensive front. A few plays later, the Chargers were forced to punt. Then this happened:
The punt is blocked, and Cory Littleton gets the TD for the Rams. Kaser is hurt too.
That went well.
— Bolts From The Blue (@BFTB_Chargers) September 23, 2018
In a game decided by just 12 points, the seven-point swing may have changed everything.
In the regular season finale, Chargers free safety Jahleel Addae intercepted the ball in the end zone, making maybe his only highlight play of the year. Ten seconds later, Addae made possibly the worst decision of 2018:
— Mike DiGiovanna (@MikeDiGiovanna) December 30, 2018
The Broncos would kick a field goal, ending the Chargers’ opportunity for a defensive shut out and giving their AFC West rivals momentum heading into halftime. The Chargers were all too familiar with the Broncos gaining momentum, unfortunately, having lost to them in possibly the team’s worst loss of the year in Week 11, and now sat 7-3 in a game where the AFC West title was on the line.
Did these errors determine the outcome of any of these games? Not necessarily. But following a year when 12-4 only netted them the fifth seed in the postseason, the Chargers need to look at every area, no matter how small, for ways they could improve.