Penalties Derail Los Angeles Chargers Offense in Week 2 Loss

Los Angeles Chargers Offense
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The Los Angeles Chargers (1-1) fell to the Dallas Cowboys (1-1) on Sunday by a final score of 20-17, sealed by a 56-yard Greg Zuerlein field goal in the final seconds. The outcome will likely not be without controversy due to a quite questionable call late in the fourth quarter. There is still some blame to go around elsewhere, though, due to some mistakes on their end – particularly regarding penalties from the Los Angeles Chargers offense.

Penalties Derail Los Angeles Chargers Offense in Loss to Dallas Cowboys

Avoidable Mistakes

The Chargers committed a grand total of 12 penalties on Sunday. All but one of them came from the offensive side of the ball. There were multiple holding calls, one of which wiped a long touchdown pass to Donald Parham. Jalen Guyton wiped out a long gain by committing offensive pass interference. Keenan Allen wiped out a 15-yard gain of his own by getting flagged for taunting. Of course, the taunting flags are controversial in general right now, but those are still unfortunately the rules.

Another touchdown near the goal line to Jared Cook was wiped out by an illegal shift. That one was controversial, and Brandon Staley seemed a bit confused about it too. Still, even making an exception for that particular call, there were plenty of legitimate penalties that were committed. Several of them wiped out big plays. The Chargers have to be less sloppy with these kinds of penalties.

That One Call

Despite the role the Chargers played in hurting themselves in the loss, the controversial call late in the fourth quarter still needs to be addressed. Second down and goal in the red zone with just a few minutes to go. Justin Herbert takes the snap and can’t find anybody, so he rolls back further in hopes of someone getting open eventually. The offensive line (which did well, save for the backup Storm Norton that was in for Bryan Bulaga) finally collapses and the defense comes for Herbert. Herbert finally gets rid of the ball while falling backward as Micah Parsons takes him down.

This was called a sack, even though Herbert was still clearly trying to get rid of the ball. One might say that forward progress was stopped, but he was still keeping the play alive and this did not seem like a kind of play that had not been allowed to finish before. The NFL has let such types of situations play out – usually, they do not end the play while the quarterback is still on his feet unless he’s been completely stopped or the defender has gotten his arms around him (presumably to prevent a WWE-style slam).

Because of the sack, the Chargers were pushed back to the mid-20s on third down. Presumably trying to avoid another sack or throwing a 50/50 ball (which has not been a part of this offense so far), Herbert ended up dumping it off to Austin Ekeler for 10-ish yards and settling for a field goal which tied the game. This allowed the Cowboys to run the clock down since all they needed was a field goal to win it (and worst-case scenario, drive stalls or kick misses, go to overtime).

Missing Justin Jones

One other thing that contributed to the Chargers loss was poor run defense. Defensive lineman Justin Jones was out this week with an injury. Though one may not have expected his absence to be so key compared to other defensive players, he was missed. Last week they allowed 127 yards – not great, but it didn’t hurt them badly seeing as they only allowed 16 points. This week, they allowed 198 rushing yards. Tony Pollard in particular carved them up, getting 109 yards on just 13 carries. They will have to do better, especially if Jones misses any more time since he is surprisingly this important to helping stop the run.

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