Reeling and injured are two details that no team likes to keep for three weeks into the season. Yet this is the position of the Los Angeles Chargers after their worst defeat in Brandon Staley’s two-year tenure.
Sunday’s 38-10 loss to Jacksonville was not only the Chargers’ second straight loss, but the injury list grew longer as the game progressed.
Not only does quarterback Justin Herbert’s rib injury remain a concern, but offensive tackle Rashwan Slater is likely to miss the rest of the season due to a torn left biceps. And linebacker Joy Bossa has what coach Brandon Staley has dubbed a “significant groin injury” that will sideline him for a while.
The injuries come at the worst of times for Los Angeles, who were already missing center Corey Linsley due to a knee problem, wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring) and cornerback Jesse Jackson (ankle). Allen is expected to return to practice this week, while the status of Linsley and Jackson is undetermined.
“For high-profile players like us to get hurt, it’s not uncommon,” Staley said. “And what you have to do is just kind of weather that storm and stick with it. I think that’s where we are now.”
Slater’s injury is the most important and could cause some alterations on the offensive line. Storm Norton played a left tackle after Slater was dismissed in the second half, but struggled for most of the previous season starting with a right tackle before winning the job at Trey Pipkins’ training camp. Rookie guard Jamri Salier — who played tackle at the University of Georgia — may be another option.
Despite being out of reach in the fourth quarter, Herbert played the full game. Staley drew considerable criticism after Herbert’s stay in the game, saying it was a joint decision.
A day later, Staley said that if the same situation arises, he would do a better job of communicating to Herbert that coming out would serve everyone the best.
“In that moment, I don’t regret how we went through together. But I think the lesson going forward is just making sure he knows he’s already done enough,” Staley said. “Playing at that ballgame shows how much Justin cares for them. And they know what kind of fight he has.”
Punter JK Scott continues to show why he was the Chargers’ lowest-rated off-season signing. Scott’s average hang time of 5.00 seconds ranks second in the league as a result of only getting 28 yards to opposing returners, the fourth lowest in the AFC.
The run game has been abysmal, averaging only 2.64 yards per carry, with 20 of his 64 attempts this season going for no profit or negative yards and only one run going for 10 yards or more. The Jaguars created a one-dimensional offense by holding the Chargers for zero ground yards in the first quarter and 14 in the first half, despite having nine points a game.
Allen was sidelined for the second straight game, with Joshua Palmer making the move with six receptions for 99 yards. Palmer’s best catch came in the last game of the third quarter, when he beat Jaguars CB Andre Sisko at a crossing route and went for 45 yards before being pushed out of bound at the Jaguars.
The pass rush against the Jaguars was non-existent. Besides producing no sack, Trevor Lawrence felt pressure on only five out of 39 dropbacks and hurried three times. Khaleel Mack was under no pressure after consuming nine in the first two games including 3 1/2 sacks.
WR Jalen Guyton, who had a 54-yard reception on the third quarter drive setting a field goal, has also been lost for the season due to a torn ACL. The injury occurred late in the fourth quarter.
7 — The number of times the Chargers have started 1-2 since 2013. The only saving grace for Bolt fans at this point in time is that the last two playoff trips in 2013 and ’18 took place after skipping two of their first three games.
The Chargers hit the road over the next two weeks, starting Sunday against Houston. The Texans have won three of their last four, including 41-29 last season, which was part of a stretch during which the Chargers dropped three of their last four to miss the playoffs.
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