The LA Chargers went into Week 7 desperately needing to beat the Kansas City Chiefs in order to drastically improve the team's playoff chances. Instead, the Chargers once again fell short against their AFC West rivals and now sport a 2-4 record on the season.
It looked like the Chargers were well on their way to a defensive disaster after the first half. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense turned in a historic first half to score 24 points. LA's defense buckled down in the second half but the offense could not follow suit.
After scoring 17 points in the first half, the Chargers went out and scored zero in the second. The half started with a red zone interception on a tipped pass. It ended with an interception on a garbage time drive. In between those two moments, there was a whole lot of nothing.
While the trendy thing to do is blame Brandon Staley (he definitely does deserve blame) and everyone else involved in the operation, it might be time to look at the man under center. Justin Herbert has been bad. Simply put.
Justin Herbert falls short for the Chargers yet again
First of all, just because Herbert has been playing bad recently does not mean he is bad. So many Chargers fans get upset if Herbert gets any sort of criticism. It is 100% justified to say that Herbert has been bad in recent weeks but still has elite quarterback ceiling.
But at some point, the excuses have to stop. Bad weapons, a bad offensive line, and an injury on his non-throwing hand. Yes, all of these things are factors, but to completely absolve Herbert of any blame is silly.
This doesn't mean that this is all Herbert's fault, because it is not. But he is a bigger part of the problem (right now) than most fans want to admit.
Can Herbert have just one good drive in a got-to-have-it situation in the fourth quarter? Just one? Because the Chargers have had a chance to win every single game this season and they haven't. They are 2-4. It is unreasonable to expect a quarterback to deliver every single time but if the Chargers were just 50/50 in their big moments this year they would be 4-2, not 2-4.
In this game specifically, the Chargers' defense stepped up and gave the offense the ball multiple times to erase a seven-point deficit. The Chargers picked up no first downs between the interception drive and the garbage-time drive. Not one.
Whether it was because Herbert audibled into a run play on third down, or because he stared down Keenan Allen on third down when Quentin Johnston was wide open on the other side of the field, Herbert definitely shares some of the blame on each of these drives.
He also deserves some of the blame for the other failed game-winning drives this season. Yes, the offensive line melted down in some spots, but again, we cannot keep making excuses for Herbert like he is perfect. Because the 2023 season has proven that he isn't.
In Week 1 the Chargers got the ball back down two with a chance to win. Nada. In Week 2 the Chargers had a chance to win in both regulation and overtime. Nothing. In Week 6 the Chargers had a chance to drive down the field and tie the game or take the lead. Zilch. In Week 7 they had multiple chances in the fourth quarter. Zero.
Heading into Week 7, Herbert's quarterback rating is 48.3 when trailing with two or fewer minutes to play. His QBR in the first half is 107.3, for comparison. Whether fans like to admit it or not, Justin Herbert has been part of the problem this season. He has the talent to fix said problem, but that doesn't mean the problem doesn't exist.