Oh, give us strength. The first half once again was not a strong showing for this Chargers’ offense. The first three drives resulted in a turnover on downs, an interception, and a lost fumble. The offense is still struggling even though they appeared to be figuring it out the last two weeks and finding their rhythm. It looks like it is back to the drawing board.
It’s so frustrating to see this incredibly high-powered offense fail. On paper they calculate to be a machine that should be producing at a historic clip, but they cannot seem to connect and perform successfully consistently. I have to give credit to the Chargers’ defense for turning it up when the offense kept falling flat in this game. The defense forced an interception on the Seattle Seahawks’ opening drive and after the Chargers’ offensive fumble, the defense was able to hold the Seahawks to a field goal. That is where the Chargers’ offense started showing some life. After the Chargers’ defense was able to recover a fumble, the offense finally was able to score. That momentum was not maintained going into half.
One of the biggest concerns that came out of the first half was the injury sustained by cornerback J.C. Jackson. Based on the noncontact nature of the injury and how Jackson was grabbing his knee, I feared it was an ACL tear. In the post-game conference, the Chargers announced Jackson had suffered a dislocated kneecap. Jackson will need an MRI to diagnose if any additional tendon or ligament damage was caused by the dislocation.
Jackson this year is on track to have the worst professional season of his career. Since the start of the season, Pro Football Focus (PFF) has given Jackson an overall grade of 29.6. This ranks Jackson at 174 out of the 179 corners in the NFL. PFF also reports that Jackson has allowed a passer rating of 155.3. To put that into perspective a perfect passer rating is 158.3. Meaning Jackson has allowed the passers he has faced to complete almost all of their passes. He has just not been looking like himself.
The Chargers suffered another tough week of injuries. This game was absolutely riddled with injuries for the Chargers. After being sidelined by a hamstring injury in week 1, Keenan Allen finally returned. His lack of availability on the field made any impact felt by Allen on the field non-existent. No reason was provided. The most likely reason for this limitation may have been the reaggravation of that hamstring injury.
The Chargers have also most likely lost their second target wide receiver Mike Williams for an extended period of time. He went down in the middle of the fourth quarter with a gruesome ankle injury. William’s right foot faced backward under the right hip of Seahawks’ cornerback Mike Jackson as he fell. It didn’t look to be dislocated, but even a bad sprain can sideline a player for weeks. This bye week could not come at a better time for this battered and struggling Chargers’ team.
During the bye week, the Chargers need to focus on getting healthy, chemistry, and improving their game. Whatever they think is now irrelevant and has not worked. They are facing a bye week return with a 3-4 record. Not what management anticipated when taking the pains to put together such a formidable team. Admittedly, the Chargers are being decimated with injuries ranging from major to minor issues hindering their performance on gameday. Things need to change. Whether it is strength and conditioning or the design of plays or a combination thereof requires an assessment. If the Chargers want to turn this season around they need to scrutinize what has happened this season and fix it or they will be looking at a disappointing repeat of last season’s conclusion.
Finding their chemistry and being able to find the consistent rhythm required to win games is the only thing that will save this offense. With the loss of Mike Williams, the Chargers need to find a replacement capable of fulfilling the wide receiver’s position and inspiring the wide receiver room. Given their current roster and the urgency imposed by the stringent time factor, it looks like the Chargers’ need to assess what is available in the free agency market or through a trade.
They need to evaluate their coaching and play design specifically with the caliber of opponent they will be facing over the remainder of the season. If the Chargers cannot successfully do these things in short order, they will need to turn into a powerful run heavy team really fast. The Chargers have shown they are capable of establishing a run game, but have shown their lack of ability to do so on a consistent basis. I understand this offensive line has suffered major injuries, but with the talent that was so carefully assembled and the weeks of training camp, pre-season and 7 weeks of play, they should be working better together than they are. Something has to change.
The Chargers’ defense has stepped up but failed in some critical plays against the opposition’s run. They just allowed Seahawks’ running back Kenneth Walker III to rush for 168 yards and two touchdowns. One of those touchdowns was a 74-yard run. What seems to be the problem? Defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day was a much welcome surprise in this game. He was able to shed a block in the fourth quarter and tackle Walker for a safety. Joseph-Day has been one of the Chargers’ most consistent defensive linemen. One man does not make a line, someone else needs to step up and help stop the run.
This team on paper represented one of the best all-around defenses in the league. We are all well aware that this has not proven to be the reality. The Chargers have been picked apart, but should still be in a better position. They need to find a way to put a halt to their downward spiral if they want to make it into the postseason. This much needed bye week will determine if the second half of their season will be victorious….or defeating.
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