The LA Chargers went into Houston in Week 16 with the playoffs on the line to take on the lowly, 3-11 Houston Texans. In a game that many fans were circling as a W, the Bolts came out flat and were downright embarrassed by the Texans. Only the Jaguars have allowed the Texans to score more points while the Chargers' offense made the Texans' defense look much better than it really is.
The Chargers came into this game with issues regarding the COVID-19 list. Notable players that did not play on the COVID-19 list included Joey Bosa, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler and Corey Linsley. Derwin James, albeit active, did not play a snap. Drue Tranquill got hurt during the game. The Chargers' depth was tested and it failed the test.
That is far from an excuse, though. The Texans actually had more players on the COVID-19 list in this game than the Chargers and ARE A 3-11 FOOTBALL TEAM... well, 4-11 now.
The only word to sum up this LA Chargers loss is pathetic.
The LA Chargers now have much more work to do to make the playoffs and quite frankly, we cannot pencil in a win against the Broncos or the Raiders after this team just lost to the Texans. We are disgusted by what we saw and Charger fans are as well. The defense has been getting a lot of the blame, and rightfully so.
The third-down defense was horrible, as it has been all season. Houston came into this game converting 38.5% of their third downs, which ranked 20th in the NFL. Luckily, they came up against the worst third-down defense in the league. The Texans ended up converting 9 of 13 third downs.
Heading into this game, the Chargers defense had the second-worst third-down conversion rate since the stat started being recorded in 1991. The only team worse was the 2020 Tennessee Titans, who allowed opponents to convert on 51.9% of third downs. After Sunday, the Chargers' season rate is at 51.1%.
The team still had a chance to win this game, though. Justin Herbert and the offense drove down the field down 12 and scored a quick touchdown and two-point conversion to cut the lead to four. The Texans took over with just under six minutes remaining. The Chargers may have had a chance, but it never really felt like they had a chance because of how the defense played.
The defense forced the Texans to a third and three with four and a half minutes left in the game. Brandon Staley didn't like something, called a timeout, ran out the exact same vanilla defense and Rex Burkhead ran for four yards. One play later he ran the ball all the way to the 25. Fans were not happy with the timeout call.
Brandon Staley is starting to receive some (rightful) criticism as well. A few weeks ago I wrote a column about how Staley was getting overrated by Charger fans. While he has been a positive addition to the franchise, fans expected way too much out of a rookie head coach and a brand-new coaching staff. What we are seeing is the typical bumps that come with a rookie head coach. It doesn't mean that his job is on the line, but with this loss and the Chiefs' loss in the rear-view mirror, some fans already want to see a change.
What do you think about Brandon Staley and the current status (and future) of the LA Chargers? Let's have a (civil) discussion in the comments down below.