Overreaction #3: The LA Chargers need to make a coaching change
This is obviously the hot topic right now on social media so I’ll finish with this one. Coach Lynn has taken a lot of heat for how this team has performed. Fair or not, it is his job to get this team moving in the right direction. And he is doing that, at least on one side of the ball.
Lynn’s job is tied to Herbert at this point, and Herbert has FAR exceeded all expectations that any of us had about his rookie season. Lynn deserves at least some credit for that. The Chargers offense has adjusted on the fly with Herbert becoming the starting quarterback.
With Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, they were their philosophy stemmed from the emphasis on the run game, and then working the sidelines in the passing game because that’s where Taylor is comfortable.
With Herbert at the helm, they are pushing the ball vertically early and often. They’re also involving a lot more run-pass-options instead of just simply option runs like they were under Taylor. Lynn deserves some credit for that.
The bigger problem right now is the defense. The offense has been able to at least kind of deal with all the injuries due to the growth of Herbert, and the evolution of the offense. The defense on the other hand, has simply been decimated by injuries.
Joey Bosa played tonight but is clearly not anywhere close to 100%. Uchenna Nwosu and Casey Hayward left early to injury. Then you add in the losses of Chris Harris(who was sorely missed tonight), Justin Jones, Melvin Ingram, Drue Tranquill and of course Derwin James.
The defense is reeling, and the growth from most of the players has stopped. Jerry Tillery has been a non-factor as a starter. Kenneth Murray has made some really good plays but is still struggling mightily in coverage.
Rayshawn Jenkins looks much more comfortable at strong safety in the run game but continues to be exposed in the passing game. Michael Davis has improved as a tackler, but he still can’t cover anyone at a high level.
I don’t know how you can fully evaluate a defensive coordinator when he’s essentially lost all of his main contributors and the only one remaining was playing with one arm and on a snap count tonight. For the most part, the defense did their job. The Saints only scored 27 points in four quarters.
Generally speaking, you take that result most of the time against a Brees-led offense on the road. But it’s the manner in which they just methodically marched down the field at the end of each half. That continues to be a problem for the “bend but don’t break” defense employed by Gus Bradley.
If the Chargers fired him, I wouldn’t be surprised. I don’t think it happens until they get at least semi-healthy.
George Stewart, on the other hand, is 100% on the hot seat. He seems like a fine gentleman, and he is the associate head coach, but the Chargers have had special teams issues for years. The unit has been extremely bad this season.
They drafted Joe Reed in part to help with the field position challenges from last year. He has been inactive for the last two weeks. Obviously, most of that is due to his apparent challenges as a receiver, but Stewart needs to have other players ready to perform.
I love what Tyron Johnson brings to the table as a vertical threat on offense, but he pretty clearly is not all that good at returning kicks. KJ Hill is sure-handed, but not exactly explosive.
Against the Buccaneers the LA Chargers had several special teams penalties, two of which nullified positive punt returns from Hill. Tonight, the Saints came very close to blocking two of Long’s punts. The coverage unit has been spotty at best, and it has seemed like each opposing team has been very close to popping a big return against the Chargers.
Sure, you could argue that the team really misses Adrian Phillips, Drue Tranquill and Derek Watt. But Stewart had all offseason to prepare for these very circumstances, and the team basically said they drafted two special teams contributors in Reed and Alohi Gilman.
The Chargers are losing the field position battle again this season, and now they have added kicking woes into the mix. If any coach should be fired this week, it’s Stewart.
Verdict: Not an overreaction. Bradley and Stewart are each on the hot seat.