Overreaction #4: Anthony Lynn made a bad call to run the ball at the end of the first half instead of taking a knee
At the end of the first half, the LA Chargers made an absolutely critical mistake. Justin Herbert and Joshua Kelley had a poor handoff, and quick interior pressure prevented the Chargers from having a chance to recover the ball.
The blame for that play can be spread around a bit. Justin Herbert deserves some blame for not placing the ball directly in Kelley’s gut. Joshua Kelley deserves plenty of blame for not securing the ball. The interior offensive line deserves blame for allowing quick penetration that prevented a fumble recovery.
Some Chargers fans have also turned some blame on Anthony Lynn for calling a run play rather than calling for a kneel down. Does Lynn deserve blame for this play call?
To make that decision, we need to look at the risk and reward of running a play.
The Chargers had about a minute left to play with the ball at their own 9 yard line and one timeout. They also had a 17-point advantage, leading 24-7.
The reward of running plays was apparent; the offense was rolling and had plenty of time to get into field goal range.
The risk was also apparent. A fumble in that area would be extremely costly.
Clearly in this situation, the risk is greater than the reward. But, the likelihood of the risk coming to fruition should have been extremely low.
For weeks, Anthony Lynn has been preaching ball security. It was completely fair of Lynn to expect that there would be a normal handoff, followed by a safe run.
Runs up the middle are generally considered very safe. Had the play gone for nothing (as it should have), Lynn would have likely run out the clock at that point. If the play had gone for something decent, then the Chargers would be ready to capitalize on a great opportunity to put the Buccaneers away.
Simply put, a conservative run was the right decision. There is plenty of blame to go around on that play, but none of it should be on Lynn’s play call.
Some fans have said that the Chargers should have played it safe because they were playing against Tom Brady.
For those with that argument, I would say that reason actually supports Lynn’s play call. If you are scared of Brady scoring points, you should seek out as many points as possible and bury Brady while you have the chance. The Atlanta Falcons learned the hard way that playing it too safe can cost the game against Brady.
With that said, Lynn’s play call was actually fairly conservative. The blame needs to go on the players for the fumble.
Verdict #4: Overreaction