The LA Chargers defeated the Cleveland Browns 30-28 in Week 5 in a game that is going to be talked about all week. Brandon Staley made the very bold decision to go for it on fourth and two with the game on the line and the Chargers failed to convert, giving the Browns a very short field to attempt the game-winning field goal.
Cade York ultimately missed the 54-yarder and saved Staley from a week full of criticism, perhaps from his own team as well.
Typically there is a lot of discourse surrounding another Chargers coach: offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. Chargers fans do not like the way that Lombardi calls the offense with Justin Herbert under center, even though the team finished in the top five in both points per game and offensive DVOA last season.
While some fans still threw shade at Lombardi during Sunday's contest, most of the fanbase was rightfully toned down when it came to the criticism. That is because Lombardi called an excellent game on offense and put the team in a position to win this game when the defense was not playing particularly well.
Joe Lombardi deserves an apology from Chargers fans after Week 5's win.
Joe Lombardi called an outstanding game against the Browns. Heading into this week, we broke down how running the ball is the key to the Chargers' offensive success moving forward and Lombardi leaned into that.
Not only did the Chargers lean into the run and run the ball well, but they finally made the change that fans have been begging for all season. Sony Michel got just one rushing attempt (fittingly for zero yards) while Joshua Kelley became the de facto RB2. Kelley ran the ball 10 times for 49 yards and a touchdown, adding 33 yards on two receptions as well.
The Bolts heavily relied on the running backs and Mike Williams, which absolutely should be the game plan while Keenan Allen is out. LA tallied up a staggering 465 yards in this game and the trio of Williams, Ekeler and Kelley accounted for 415 of those yards. Lombardi correctly targeted the strengths of this matchup and didn't get cute: he kept going back to them.
Was it perfect? No, but there is not a single play-caller in the league that is perfect. If Chargers fans want perfection then they are never going to be satisfied as perfection simply isn't obtainable in the NFL.
But it was still fantastic. The only drawback of the play-calling in Week 5 was the red-zone play-calling, which was not as effective as the team would have hoped. The Chargers scored only two touchdowns in five red-zone attempts.
That being said, there were some extraneous circumstances that hurt those red-zone trips. There were multiple false starts in the red zone as well as a big drop by Josh Palmer that would have likely led to a touchdown.
Blaming Joe Lombardi for everything has been the trendy thing for fans to do online and while he has been bad before, he has also had a lot of good moments. Week 5 was another good moment and if we are going to be critical of him, we also have to be complimentary when he earned it. Scoring 64 points in the last two weeks without having your WR1 or franchise left tackle is no easy feat.