For the first time since 2018, the LA Chargers will not start the season with a 1-0 record. Los Angeles fell 36-34 to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, bringing excited fans back down to earth in the process.
It has been eight months since the Chargers were last in action (blowing a 27-0 lead against Jacksonville) yet the Chargers looked to be in prime "Chargering" form. Some aspects of the game were elite, some were downright infuriating and at the end of the day, an avoidable mistake or two ultimately cost this team the game.
Starting the season 0-1 does not mean that the Chargers will be horrible (last time the Chargers started 0-1 they went on to finish with a 12-4 record). But that does not change the fact that this loss stung and there are two direct people to blame.
The Chargers' loss to the Dolphins falls solely on Brandon Staley and J.C. Jackson
The Chargers' defense was downright atrocious in this game. Tua Tagovailoa had the best came of his entire career and while he definitely deserves his roses for how he played, Staley made it pretty easy for Tua to get going.
Los Angeles did nothing that worked for the team last year when the defense was able to render the Miami offense useless. Instead, the team tried the bold strategy of playing press man-on-man coverage against Tyreek Hill with absolutely no safety help over the top.
Whether it be on the go route, the goal-line fade, or the inside post, the Dolphins were able to take advantage of the massive athleticism advantage that Hill had over the Chargers secondary. It was easy out there for Tua and Hill. It looked like they were playing Madden on rookie.
Staley is a defensive coach. He does not call the plays on offense and he is not responsible for the special teams turnaround. If he is not being additive to the defensive side of the ball then he is not bringing anything to the table. It does not matter how often you say you've changed the culture if the results don't follow.
Staley often left Jackson out there to dry. Granted, Staley finally adjusted and took Jackson out of the game towards the end of the second half but it was too late. Jackson had already gifted the Dolphins enough points to get the win.
First, it started with Jackson's needless pass interference on a Hail Mary attempt that had no chance of making it to the endzone. Jackson shoved the receiver like he was playing backyard football and it gave the Dolphins three free points. In classic Chargers fashion, the team lost by two.
Then it continued when Jackson turned what looked like a good play into a bad situation for the Chargers. Jackson intercepted Tua in the endzone in the third quarter and instead of taking a knee, he ran the ball out and was forced out of bounds inside of the five. The Chargers were ultimately backed up and had to punt from the one, giving Miami excellent field position.
And on the first play of that drive, the Chargers decided it was a good idea to put Jackson one-on-one against Hill in his first game back from a ruptured patellar. It went as expected.
There were definitely some positives from this game and fans should remember that the season is not over. But it doesn't make it any less frustrating that this loss boiled down to bad coaching and an $82.5 million corner who looked unplayable.