LA Chargers: Justin Herbert can't afford red zone mistakes vs. Chiefs

Dallas Cowboys v LA Chargers
Dallas Cowboys v LA Chargers / Harry How/Getty Images

LA Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert doesn't have a great TD-INT ratio (2:3) at this point. However, it's still too early to draw conclusions from those stats with such a limited sample size at the moment.

What we can talk about is where the interceptions and mistakes have happened in relation to field position. Two out of Herbert's three interceptions took place when the Chargers were driving in the red zone. Washington's William Jackson III intercepted him at the four yard line while Dallas' Damontae Kazee made a pick in the end zone, creating a Cowboys touchback.

It was one thing for the Chargers to not come away with a touchdown on that drive in particular, but not even coming away with a field goal was worse. In that situation, Herbert either has to throw the ball away considering the trip by Keenan Allen or get it to someone else. Looking at the play here, Justin Jackson and Jalen Guyton felt like possibilities:

The LA Chargers definitely don't want to settle for field goals with an analytically inclined staff with Justin Herbert's great arm talent.

That being said, a 17-14 game to end the third quarter creates a whole different dynamic for how that fourth quarter may have played out if the LA Chargers took the lead.

Going to the final Chargers' drive, there's also an issue I take with Herbert himself on the sack. Of course, it goes without saying that it was by no means an actual sack. Herbert was still upright.

However, if Herbert makes that decision to throw it away outside of the pocket just one or two seconds earlier, we're talking about 3rd and Goal from the seven-yard line. The actual call is not Herbert's fault, but extending a clearly dead play for that long is. Unfortunately, he did give the refs a chance to call it that they shouldn't have had.

The Cowboys also played a relatively sloppy offensive game, so the Chargers were always in it. Kansas City is a top-tier offense in the league however and LA just can't afford to not convert in the red zone against them. In Mahomes' five starts against the Chargers since 2018, the Chiefs have averaged 28.8 points against the Chargers.

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At minimum, the Chargers realistically have to put up 27-30 points on the board to win. Perhaps more depending on the game. In addition to the rest of the red zone offense issues that have hurt the Chargers, Herbert has to be more efficient and smarter there. The Chiefs could be on upset alert if Herbert and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi make their offense inside the opponent's 25 yard line as dangerous as it is for the first 75 yards.