After a promising 4-1 start under head coach Brandon Staley, the LA Chargers have dropped two games in a row, both in ugly fashion. While the final score in Week 8 was 27-24 against the New England Patriots, the final score does not tell the entire story.
The focus on this game was on the run defense and how the Patriots would expose the Chargers. And while it was not great, it was not nearly as bad as it could have been. Instead, the Chargers offense was lackluster and extremely disappointing.
That makes it two weeks in a row with this kind of performance and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi should feel the pressure moving forward.
This is not to say that the Chargers should fire Lombardi, that would be a massive overreaction. However, if he is going to be a good offensive coordinator in this league then he is going to have to make adjustments to the play-calling. If he doesn't, the Bolts' season might end in huge disappointment and his tenure with the team might only last one year.
The LA Chargers play-calling is broken.
To be completely transparent, I am someone who has defending the play-calling in the past and has urged fans to stay patient. I don't think the problem is a lack of going deep, instead, it is the way the plays are designed and how the team is utilizing a really talented offensive group.
The Chargers have serious weapons and an eccentric young quarterback under center. It feels like the team is pigeon-holing itself into an offensive style that does not fit the personnel that the team has.
The Chargers' offense succeed early on and there was not much to complain about in the first four weeks. Sure, the Dallas game was not great, but that was not really a play-calling issue. And while the results were good, they were a bit misleading.
First of all, Justin Herbert was making exceptional throw after exceptional throw. Go back and watch the first four weeks of the season and look at how many throws he was fitting into tight windows. In the NFL you are not going to get guys wide-open every play but the offense was not making it as easy as it could have been for Herbert.
Then go back and look at the last two weeks. Teams have seen this new Chargers offense on film and have made adjustments that have staggered the Bolts. The Chargers scored six points against Baltimore and only three points when it mattered in the second half against New England (seven garbage time points).
Heck, the Bolts only had one good drive in the entire game and it was the first drive! Which included getting Keenan Allen one-on-one to display his route running on a deep corner route. We should be seeing more of that.
The other scoring drives were not a result of great drives, more so big plays and garbage time. They had two big runs from Justin Jackson and Austin Ekeler that set up scoring chances. Those runs were not a result of great play-calling more than they were great plays on simple runs by the running backs.
We obviously don't know the exact ins and outs of the offense and what they are exactly trying to accomplish on every single play but it appears to be an offense that is predicated on pre-snap reads, finding a matchup they like and targeting that. That is why the team continually went after Marlon Humphrey against Baltimore, even if that does not make a whole lot of sense.
Something needs to change. Whether it is more deep routes, letting Herbert and the offense play more freely, or orchestrating different moves than the typical pre-snap tight end motion. It obviously has been solved to a degree and the LA Chargers have to adapt.