LA Chargers News

Chargers notebook: Offensive line, Austin Ekeler’s usage, playcalling

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 20: Philip Rivers #17 of the Los Angeles Chargers signals at the line of scrimmage during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Chargers 23-20. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 20: Philip Rivers #17 of the Los Angeles Chargers signals at the line of scrimmage during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Chargers 23-20. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – OCTOBER 20: Melvin Gordon III #25 of the Log Angeles Chargers is tackled while running with the ball during the first quarter by Malcolm Butler #21 of the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 20, 2019, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – OCTOBER 20: Melvin Gordon III #25 of the Log Angeles Chargers is tackled while running with the ball during the first quarter by Malcolm Butler #21 of the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 20, 2019, in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)

Why can’t the Chargers be honest about the run game?

A truly valid question that is asked with something specific in mind. The Chargers have been explosive when Austin Ekeler is on the field and have been a dud with Melvin Gordon on the field. Why? Multiple reasons. What do Justin Jackson and Ekeler have in common? They are shifty and have fantastic vision.

Gordon had multiple opportunities to break off for a big run on Sunday, but none of those opportunities were taken advantage of. Gordon was consistently running into traffic and missing his lanes, while Ekeler and Jackson excel at being slippery once they find the smallest lane.

Yet, the question is, why can’t the Chargers be honest about it? Surely they know Ekeler and Jackson are better than Gordon, right? Anthony Lynn‘s excuse post-game was that Gordon is the big back, right? He should get that yard. Yet, Lynn has also said that Ekeler is pound for pound the strongest back on the roster. Inconsistencies, in both words and coaching.

Further than the Gordon vs. Ekeler conversation, why doesn’t Lynn understand that the running game sucks? Yes, sucks. It’s a waste of a down, it’s awful. At 3.5 yards per carry many analytics claim that running the ball is a waste of a down.

In fact, some claim you shouldn’t even run unless you are averaging near 4.5 yards a carry. So, you have to understand that Gordon is running the ball at 2.3 yards per carry. This means the Chargers are essentially wasting a down every time they run the football to Gordon. There is no benefit, it is just a wasted down.

So, why can’t the Chargers be honest about the run game and its failures? They are still preaching post-game that they need to fix it and run the ball more when they should be talking about finding other ways to get the ball moving in other players’ hands. Yet, it is a dream that will not come to fruition.

This staff is stubborn, they want to bend but not break, and they want to run the football. It’s the 0-4 start to 2017 all over again, when the Chargers needed that wake-up call to realize that the passing game is what makes this team tick, not the running game. Unfortunately, that wake-up call didn’t stick.

All in all, there are no answers here, the team is just stuck in a stubborn phase where they feel like they need to run the ball to win football games. In 2019, this is the worst mentality to have unless your quarterback is as mobile and versatile as Lamar Jackson.

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