Overreaction #2: The LA Chargers’ inability to run the ball, especially in short-yardage situations, might be what keeps them out of the playoffs
On paper, the LA Chargers running game was substantially better in Week 8 than it has been in recent weeks.
In total, the offense produced 210 rushing yards on 38 attempts for an average of 5.5 yards per carry.
While those numbers look pretty good, especially compared to what previous games have looked like, the numbers do not really tell the tale of this game.
Most of those yards were gained on big chunk plays. While it was certainly encouraging that all three running backs were able to break off gains of greater than 20 yards, those gains inflate the average substantially.
Simply put, when the Chargers needed to run late in the game or run for short yardage, they were unable to do it consistently. Late in the game, the Chargers were forced to rely more on Herbert’s arm with quick passes and screens than they would have liked. It was clear that the Chargers did not feel confident running up the middle unless it was on a delay where the defense expected a pass.
Also, in short-yardage situations, the Chargers failed twice. On a fourth down in the first quarter, a run up the middle was stuffed for a loss. Later in the game, a Justin Herbert sneak failed, but the play was saved by a face mask penalty.
When the Chargers needed to run the ball in situations where it was obvious that they needed to, they could not.
While that is a major concern for any team, it is particularly troubling for the Chargers. The Chargers particularly need to be able to make such plays for two reasons.
First, the Chargers have had trouble with holding on to leads, as was the case today. The best way to hold on to a lead is with authoritative running of the football. This offensive line is simply unable to do that right now.
Secondly, the Chargers have had trouble with their kicking game, which may force them to go for it on 4th down more often. The most efficient way to convert in these situations for most teams is through a run up the middle, but the Chargers have been unable to do so.
Of all of the weaknesses of this team, the inability to run the ball at will might be the main factor keeping the team out of the playoffs.
Verdict #2: Not an overreaction