The LA Chargers were once again burned by their own mistakes.
In all too familiar LA Chargers fashion, Sunday’s brutal defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was highlighted by a highly encouraging first half and a deadly self-inflicted wound to tarnish it.
Rookie signal-caller Justin Herbert had it going all afternoon. He finished the day with an efficient 20/25 passing for 290 yards and sharing the sugar doing so connecting with nine different Charger receivers.
Although Tampa Bay’s secondary leaves plenty to be desired, the front seven headlined by Shaq Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, Lavonte David, and Devin White, is one of the most vaunted in today’s game.
That was on display today as they were able to get into the backfield in bunches quite often. However, the wide-eyed 22-year-old Herbert used his 6’5″ frame and maintained pocket poise to deliver some dimes under duress.
Particularly on the last play of the third quarter, where he dropped a dot to Jalen Guyton for a 72-yard touchdown in the face of all-out pressure to take a blown lead back.
But alas, Herbert’s encouraging start to his young career was overshadowed by the Chargers out ‘Chargering’ themselves to blow a great opportunity to improve to 2-2 with a favorable schedule on the horizon.
Up 24-7 with two minutes left until the half, rookie running back and UCLA product Joshua Kelley coughed up the football inside the Chargers own ten-yard line leading to an easy touchdown for Tampa Bay. Kelley’s second fumble in as many weeks.
A boneheaded blunder, especially considering the ‘Greatest Living American’ Tom Brady is on that opposing sideline. As he made a living off of scores to end the first half and start the second half for headlining wins for two decades in New England as he did today.
One could blame head coach Anthony Lynn for not kneeling and accepting a 24-7 halftime lead with all of the momentum, but that should not be the focal point. Kelley’s gotta hang onto that ball, it’s the single no-no in that scenario.
Still in all, Bolt fans should feel good about the team’s resolve after a quick 21 point explosion by the Bucs. Without featured back Austin Ekeler who went down early and got carted off with a leg injury, Herbert was working with a lot of unknown receivers outside of Keenan Allen and a compromised running game.
Moving forward the greater concern should be this Bolt defense. Granted multiple time pro bowlers Chris Harris Jr and Melvin Ingram are on injured reserve, Brady dicing up the LA Chargers the entire second half despite no Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette, and injuries sidelining Mike Evans and LeSean McCoy at different points is some cause for concern.
Luckily, LA has an aforementioned JV schedule upcoming following next week’s showdown with New Orleans who, even after a bounce-back win today against the putrid Detroit Lions, haven’t looked like themselves all year.
Following that tough but winnable matchup, the Jets, Dolphins, Jaguars, Raiders, the bye week, and the Broncos await. A nice batch of frosted cupcakes moving forward.
If Herbert continues to play with this poise and confidence and the defense tightens up some of its recent lapses while getting Harris Jr and Ingram back on the field, expect a potentially big win streak, creating a serious wild card contender behind defending champions Kansas City in the AFC West.