LA Chargers: Poor defensive effort highlights Bolts’ weekly painful loss
By Simon Brady
The LA Chargers were bad in several areas in Week 9, including the defense.
Rightfully so, most LA Chargers fans will be discussing the questionable back-to-back fade play calls to try to seal Sunday’s loss to the division rival Las Vegas Raiders, 31-26. However, the overarching red flag in a handful of them to choose from for the Chargers falls on Gus Bradley and his porous defense.
For the fifth straight week, the Los Angeles defense surrendered at least 29 points to their opposition. Today, a sheepish unit posted only one sack from Jerry Tillery, zero tackles for loss, and plenty of brutal coverage busts and blow bys.
Raiders’ signal-caller Derek Carr even victimized once unanimously considered top-five cornerback and Bolts secondary staple Casey Hayward Jr multiple times.
Sitting at 2-6 and in the basement of the AFC West, this team and it’s fanbases’ focus moving forward should solely be on April’s draft and giving this poor kid Justin Herbert the proper support to succeed.
With Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry in place as a more-than-viable core of offensive weapons, the LA Chargers must target players to protect Herbert up front and help him actually hold leads with defensive stoppers, mostly in the back end.
Now, former no. 3 overall pick and premier pass rusher Joey Bosa’s presence was certainly missed in Week 9. But even with him sidelined, no pressure in the backfield today on a Raider offensive line is inexcusable. This Linebacker unit specifically leaves plenty to be desired.
First-round selection Kenneth Murray had a strong start to his rookie campaign but hasn’t popped as often in recent weeks, validating the numerous takes of the Big 12 product being a reach and questionable pick at 23.
With Bosa and his pass-rushing partner Melvin Ingram both healthy, that’s one of the top if not the top pass-rushing duo in the sport. However, everywhere else you look on defense, there need to be tweaks made in the draft and free agency this offseason.
Between that and the special teams’ woes, Los Angeles continues to deal with, Herbert and Anthony Lynn will have some sleepless nights this week and moving forward.
Coming into the season, many thought the Chargers would be a strong team that’s held back by either the low ceiling, borderline starting-caliber quarterback Tyrod Taylor or developing, project in rookie Herbert.
Instead, Herbert has popped and shined immediately, playing outstanding again this week, completing 28 passes for 326 yards and two touchdowns. He threw two beautiful fade balls good enough for a third as well if not for last-minute break-ups, in quintessential late-game Charger fashion.
Unfortunately the teams stunning, continuous gut-wrenching losses have overshadowed Herbert. At least the Chargers didn’t blow a two or three-possession lead this time around and actually sported some fire uniforms while embarrassingly losing for a change. But it’s no silver lining for losing six one-possession games that all could’ve easily gone the other way.
We’re at the midway point of the NFL season. Contenders have eyes on their ensuing playoff push. Sadly for the LA Chargers, all the focus is on the draft, building for the future, and potentially searching for a new head coach and defensive coordinator who can help this team finish these winnable games.