COSTA MESA – The Chargers’ offense spent a lot of time on the sidelines last week watching their defensive struggles against the Houston Texans’ running game.
The Texan dominated possession time with running back Rex Burkhead having a competitive day in his career, but Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen didn’t feel real trouble until the fourth quarter.
“I felt certain about it until Burkhead ran for the last time (touched down),” Allen said Thursday.
The Chargers’ defense suffered much of the blame in the surprising loss to struggling Texans (4-11), but Allen, quarterback Justin Herbert and the rest had moments to make an impact. despite limited opportunities.
The Chargers totaled 417 yards and were never to be outdone despite the absence of wide receivers Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton, backrunner Austin Ekeler and center Corey Linsley. The four starting aircraft are on the COVID-19 reserve list.
While the Chargers were able to move the ball, two expensive interceptions from Herbert turned into 14 points for Texas.
With the Chargers leading 12-10 at the end of the second quarter, Herbert unleashed a flat pass to rookie Josh Palmer near the bottom area that was blocked by the safety of Jonathan Owens. The Texas team took advantage and scored the winning goal to go into the first half with a 17-12 lead.
Then in the fourth quarter, Herbert miscommunicated with Jared Cook late in the game and threw a block that sent defensive back Tavierre Thomas back to end the Chargers’ hopes of a comeback.
Herbert is currently teaming up with four other defenders for the league’s highest 14 interceptions this season. Chargers raved about its decision-making and wasn’t worried about an increase in intercepts, but the second quarter of year two saw some costly turnarounds in 2021. Chargers (8 -7) is 0-4 as Herbert throws multiple interceptions in a game this season.
Herbert, who threw just 10 interceptions as a rookie, had two interceptions, including a six, against the Denver Broncos in their Week 12 road loss.
The Chargers will need to adjust and can’t miss their chance in Sunday’s rematch against the Broncos, whose defense is allowing a league low of 17.3 points per game. A loss won’t knock the Chargers out of the playoffs, but it will be a blow, regardless of what other outcome plays out around the tournament this week.
Chargers coach Brandon Staley said: “Intercepts have a story. “What you are looking for is if they are products of poor decision making and none of them are products of poor decision making. That’s one thing, as a head coach, that you’re looking for. He is an excellent decision maker. As for being a sophomore, he’s a senior decision maker. ”
Herbert threw a bad pass for the first interception in Houston, but perhaps the outcome would have been different had he thrown for Williams or Guyton – the team’s two best bot lane threats.
Williams and Guyton will be available this week after the wide receivers were de-activated from the COVID-19 list this week.
“It’s one of those places that I would call a little tight – which means I wish we had 10 or 15 more yards to work with,” Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said of the time. first intercept. “Do you want Josh to look and throttle and Justin to put it on him? Sure, or Justin toss it to the back of the end zone, but it’s one of those plays where it’s something new as far as concept and their mission timing probably isn’t what it used to be. Here we opened it up in a live game. ”
It was a lesson in chemistry for Palmer and Herbert, and the same can be said for Herbert and Cook. He has struggled to stay on the same page as Cook, the veteran finisher who joined the Chargers during the off-season.
Herbert has had two interceptions returned for touchdowns when targeting Cook this season, the first coming to the New England Patriots in Week 8. There have also been some strong Herbert and Cook collisions during the season. The award was blamed on “misinformation. ”
“The Patriots was probably a matter of experience for Justin, it’s just that the timing of him throwing that was a bit early,” Lombardi said. “Then in the game against Houston, I think it just takes Jared a little while to figure out what he’s doing.”
Herbert also had trouble connecting with Allen in Houston, but Lombardi said it was because of the lack of play. The Chargers made just 39 attacking plays before Burkhead scored the second to extend the lead to 24-15 with 13:37 remaining in the fourth inning. Texans controlled possession at 34:52 compared to 25:08 for the Chargers.
Herbert and Allen were selected to the Pro Bowl because they have had a lot of success in Lombardi’s plans this season. But they will need their best performance on Sunday, and likely can’t afford expensive mistakes or a slow start against the Broncos’ resilient defense in a crucial game.
The charger has pressure, but it helps get Williams, Guyton, Ekeler and Linsley back off the COVID list.
“I’ve been saying all year that he’s ours,” Allen said of Williams. “He will give us the big points, the main points that we lack. It would be great to have him back.”
Lombardi said losing a player the day before game day for COVID-related reasons – as he did with Williams last week – is not too difficult to manage.
Lombardi said it will be harder when he loses key players to injury early in games. That’s what happened to Donald Parham Jr. when he suffered a concussion early in the first quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15.
The charger missed out on Parham’s presence in Houston as a flexible tight-end who could contribute as both a blocker and a collector. He was recently placed on the injury reserve and will miss the final two games of the regular season against the Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders.
“Donald was a big part of our game plan up to the point where he was concussion,” Lombardi said. “When he came out early in that game, it was difficult because there were so many roles – he was supposed to be the main blocker in this role and the takeover for the role. You really have to credit Chris Beatty, our track coach, and Kevin Koger, our technical finishing coach. When Donald got hurt, Kevin said, ‘Hey, just call it on paper. We will arrange it. We have found it. ‘
“Those guys have done a great job of mine getting into their position group. Those guys have done a great job, the assistant coaches and the players who fill them know well their role when those guys go down. Certainly the players and the coach made it a lot easier for me. ”
The safety of the Derwin James (hamstring) charger was a limited participant in training for the second day in a row.
Linebacker Drue Tranquill (leg) missed training for the second straight day this week.
https://www.sbsun.com/2021/12/30/justin-herbert-chargers-search-for-adjustments-against-broncos/ Justin Herbert, Charger Looking for Adjustments vs. Broncos – San Bernardino Sun