The ugly: Offensive playcalling, defensive playcalling in the fourth quarter
These things were outright ugly. They can be fixed, sure, but if they are not then the LA Chargers are not going to win many games. These absolutely should be concerns moving forward.
The offensive playcalling in this game was really, really bad. Remember that “moving pieces” offense that was touted all offseason? That didn’t happen. Tyrod Taylor threw the ball as many times as Philip Rivers would and the team only called a handful of plays that actually utilized his athleticism.
Austin Ekeler was targeted once, yes once in this game. That just cannot happen. They had bright spots, like a read-option pitch to Ekeler in the first half or the rollout drag route to Keenan Allen that was called twice, but for the most part, it was uninspired playcalling that simply does not fit Taylor as a quarterback.
Defensive playcalling in the fourth quarter:
This is really frustrating. With a three-point lead and three minutes in the game, after playing really good defense all game and not being shy in sending pressure to Burrow, Gus Bradley decided to play the soft zone coverage that the Chargers have called on in the past.
It did not work. The Bengals marched down the field almost effortlessly and came so close to beating the Chargers because of it.
We see this every time the Chargers need to make a stop and for some reason, Gus Bradley shells up and does not get aggressive. We are not asking for the team to run a cover one blitz, but the passive defensive playcalling late in games doesn’t work.
How many times have we seen Philip Rivers throw an interception late in the game because pressure was sent his way? Why wouldn’t you do that against rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, especially early in the drive, after a rather unsuccessful day?
At the end of the day, the LA Chargers are 1-0. A win is a win. This needs to be better moving forward, though.