Four ways the Chargers can improve through remainder of season
Chargers: Getting in the end zone
The Chargers’ win against the Packers was dominating, but imagine what a blowout it could have been had the Chargers not stalled in the red zone. So frequently they struggled to finish great drives, ending them with short field goals instead of capitalizing with a touchdown.
The Chargers are 22nd in the league in red zone scoring percentage (touchdown only), only scoring a touchdown on 50 percent of the time they get inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. That’s way down from the 64.41 percent rate they had in 2018, when they were eighth in the league.
Getting Melvin Gordon back is certainly a boost in this department, as he has been a touchdown machine since his sophomore year. His fumble on the one-yard line against the Tennessee Titans can be quickly forgotten if new offensive coordinator Shane Steichen can find creative ways to get him in the end zone.
Chargers: Kicking touchbacks
The Chargers finally found their kicker last season in then-rookie Michael Badgley, but the Money Badger isn’t perfect. Perhaps the only shortcoming in his game is kickoffs. Since last season, he has been unable to consistently kick touchbacks.
The Chargers even signed a second kicker, Nick Rose, for the Divisional Round game against the New England Patriots just to handle kickoff duties. This wasn’t a problem early in the season, with Ty Long kicking kickoffs.
Long appeared to be hurt after a kick against the Miami Dolphins, but before that, had kicked 12 touchbacks in just 19 kicks. After Long’s injury scare, the Chargers signed Chase McLaughlin to placekick and handle kickoffs.
He was average in the kickoff department, only kicking seven touchbacks on 17 kickoffs. That is not a bad number, but it’s not great either.
Since Badgley came back from his groin injury, he has only kicked one touchback in 11 kickoffs. Against elite returners, that’s not good enough. Luckily, the altitude at Mexico City will help his kicks travel further, because Chiefs returner Mecole Hardman can be very dangerous.
After the bye, the Chargers should evaluate giving the job back to Long, who has proven he can consistently put the ball in the end zone.