The LA Chargers came out of the bye week needing a win over the Dallas Cowboys to move to 3-2 on the season. Instead, the Bolts could not climb above .500 for the first time this season and ultimately fell 20-17 on Monday Night Football.
It was certainly a winnable game for the Chargers as the team had the ball late in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie or take the lead. But for the third time this season, Justin Herbert and the offense fell short as Herbert threw an interception under pressure.
Herbert played his worst game of the year so far and a big reason for his struggles was the offensive line. Herbert was under constant duress on Monday night and could never get into a rhythm or get comfortable. He still made uncharacteristic mistakes, but it wasn't all his doing.
Head coach Brandon Staley addressed all of this during his post-game press conference with the media. In his press conference, Staley specifically spoke about the team's inability to run the ball in this game and how it had a direct impact on Herbert and the pass protection.
"I think our inability to run the football allowed their rush to really express itself. They were able to play their type of game most of the game and they've got a lot of good rushers so there's going to be pressure. We got to do better running the football.
We got to take a hard look at what we are doing but it takes all 11 people. It's not just one unit, it's not just the O-line. It's the tight ends, the backs, the wide outs and the quarterback. We have to be more effective in that phase if we are going to play high-level offense against a pass rush like that."
Brandon Staley's comments about the run game may hint at an upcoming Chargers trade
Brandon Staley didn't outright say that the Chargers needed external help but it is clear that he is not happy with the brand of football that his offense is playing in regards to the run. And it is deeper than just one position group struggling, as the entire foundation is shaky for the Bolts.
Staley's biggest emphasis during the Chargers' offensive coordinator search was marrying the run to the pass. It was a phrase that Staley popularized during the offseason and one that Kellen Moore was seemingly going to buy into. In Week 1 of the 2023 season we saw this come to fruition as the running game carried the offense.
But since then it has been an utter mess and Staley is taking note. There is enough of a sample size to indicate that the current roster may not be suited to improve enough as the year goes along, so more help might be needed.
What help may the team add to help the run game? The two positions to keep an eye on are running back and tight end. If the Chargers can add a change-of-pace back to lessen the load on Austin Ekeler that would pay dividends. As beloved as Joshua Kelley is, he hasn't really been good this season.
Tight end might be the more pressing need, though. The blocking from the tight end room has been horrendous dating back to last season. If the Bolts can add someone like Hunter Henry to spruce up the room for cheap it could drastically change the offensive outlook.
Regardless, it is clear that Staley is not overly thrilled with how his running offense looks and it might be time to look in the mirror and get help from outside the building.