For the second week in a row, the LA Chargers lost on the last snap of the game.
The LA Chargers allowed the Denver Broncos to score a touchdown at the end of regulation in Week 8 to lose by one, 31-30. One week later, the Chargers found themselves in the same situation but with reversed roles — possessing the ball at the four-yard line with one second remaining.
The result was the same. The LA Chargers were on the wrong side of the last play of the game and lost yet another one-possession game. This extends the Chargers’ AFC West losing streak to nine games.
While there was a lot to talk about from this game (and we covered all of it in our post-game good, bad and ugly piece) one thing really rubbed me the wrong way and I wanted to dedicate an entire editorial to it: calling two straight goal line fades with the game on the line.
The Chargers were at the four-yard line with six seconds remaining after a huge completion to Mike Williams. Anthony Lynn’s offense opted to throw a goal line fade to Mike Williams on the right side of the field.
Williams could not make the catch. It was a beautiful ball from Herbert right on Williams’s hands but he could not come down with it. He was shaken up on the play, taking a hard fall at the back of the end zone.
Then the Chargers ran out a formation that appeared to set up a bubble screen to Keenan Allen on the left side, a play call that we have seen the Chargers use on a two-point conversion attempt earlier in the season.
Jon Gruden does the smartest thing possible in that situation: calls a timeout. The Raiders got a peek into what the Chargers’ thought process was. Instead of switching up the formation or using motion to confuse the defense, the Chargers simply ran out the same formation.
Instead of a bubble screen, though, the Chargers opted to throw another goal line fade to the right side to the third-string tight end, Donald Parham. Again, it was another near catch, but at the end of the day, it did not count for anything.
Here is my problem with that play call — goal line fades are extremely hard to pull off and the margin for error is slim. Yes, Mike Williams is a great vertical receiver and Donald Parham is as tall as they come but that play is extremely hard to execute.
The results showcase that. Herbert made two perfect throws, both targets got in great position to make a catch and could not come down with it. The margin for error on goal line fades is razor thin. If it wasn’t, every team would be running goal line fades that close to the end zone every time.
The first goal line fade I am more than okay with. The Chargers needed a play that did not take time to develop that, if it did not succeed, left enough time for a second attempt. I get that. That is not a bad call and the team targeted the right person in Williams.
But to go out and do it again, especially after lining up in the same formation that you just showed the Raiders? That is lazy. That shows me that the coaching staff did not have another play drawn up for that situation.
The bubble screen, which we have already seen, was exposed and the team instead opted to go with the playcall that you or I could have drawn up when we were 10 years old playing backyard football on Thanksgiving.
You have an athletic quarterback and the most elusive wide receiver in the league in Keenan Allen. Utilize that! Move the pocket, get guys in motion, literally just do exactly what the Denver Broncos did to you a week prior!
It’s bad coaching. There is no way around it. Even if Parham made that catch it would have been a bad decision. There is a reason why this team is 2-6 with so many close losses and blown leads. There is a reason why this team cannot win these very winnable games despite getting the best rookie quarterback since Patrick Mahomes.
It was such a terrible playcall and one that, quite literally, lost the game. The fans have realized it. When will the LA Chargers’ upper management?