3. The playcalling near the goal-line in the fourth quarter
This is one specific moment. Tied at 17-17, the LA Chargers had first and goal from the four-yard line with just over four minutes left. The team has not been great in converting red-zone trips into touchdowns thus far in the year and this is an example of that.
The playcalling in this sequence was not fantastic. The team went with Joshua Kelley up the middle in an uninspired play call. I don’t have the call on first down, though, especially considering the success Kelley had in Week 1. Second and goal from the three.
Then we had almost the same thing on second and goal. Hunter Henry motion to the right, snap, hand-off to Kelley, no yards. This could have been a mistake by Kelley and something a more veteran running back could have done, but I would have ran a counter there and bounced the ball to the right side.
Heck, look at Week 1. Kelley’s rushing touchdown was on a counter to the left side. The Chargers had movement to the right, blocked like it was a run to the right and Kelley cut it back to the left, where there was a hole. Why not try that?
Henry picked up his block and Mike Williams had a one-on-one on the outside. That block could have been made and Kelley easily could have picked up three yards. Instead, it was the same vanilla rushing attempt in between the tackles.
Also: where is Austin Ekeler? I get he has not been great in goal-line chances before but he is so versatile that he probably could have made that adjustment and bounced it to the outside. You have to give him one of those carries, in my opinion.
Then we had the play-fake that went south. This was Herbert’s fault (a rookie mistake) as he faked the hand-off to the wrong side and the play was dead on arrival. Herbert did what he could to extend the play, but to no avail.
If you watch it back, Henry was maybe open for an over the top lob from Herbert, but the play blew up too quickly. However, I would have much rather seen the team do the same play-fake they did in the first quarter — fake the hand-off one way, have everyone roll that direction and either find someone open or use Herbert’s athleticism to get to the pylon.
Simply pounding the ball twice between the tackles in the most vanilla way possible and then shying away from what worked earlier in the game was not the best decision.