The Los Angeles Chargers have officially fallen to 0-2, losing a close game in heartbreaking fashion to the Tennessee Titans. Losing a game in overtime to a field goal is never what fans want to see, so what went wrong during the course of the contest?
What Went Wrong For the Chargers Against the Tennessee Titans
Problem #1 – Run Game
The first of many issues was the rushing attack for the Chargers. Los Angeles missed Austin Ekeler, even though former UCLA running back Joshua Kelley showed promise in Week 1. In Week 2, Joshua Kelley had 13 carries for 39 yards, averaging out to a rough three yards per carry.
Kelley being the team’s leading rusher and having over 50% of total rushing yardage gained, the efficiency from the entire team was lacking. The total yardage gained from the Chargers rushing game was 61 yards. Derrick Henry had that and some, by himself. Having no run game will force your offense to be one-dimensional, which was obviously taken advantage of by Mike Vrabel and the Titans.
The Chargers may have had some creative concepts in Kellen Moore’s play calling; such as the pitch to Derius Davis gaining ten, but it still didn’t make a big difference in the long run. The Chargers will likely have Ekeler back in week three, which will likely amount to a much more efficient run game.
Problem #2 – Pass Defense
The obvious storyline of the game, and the main thing that went wrong against the Titans, is the atrocious pass defense. The Chargers gave up 246 yards to Ryan Tannehill. The aging Titans quarterback had an 83% completion percentage, having his way with the Chargers secondary.
The defensive line of the Bolts played exceptionally, collecting sacks, pressures, and hits. The pass defense falls on the back seven, especially the defensive backs. The linebackers played at a decent level, even with the loss of Eric Kendricks due to injury. The Titan non-wide receiver yardage total was 56 yards, which isn’t terrible considering the loss of Kendricks. Kenneth Murray had a breakout-type game, and the Kendrick replacement: Nick Niemann showed some promise, as he had nine tackles.
But the secondary struggled mightily against a run-heavy team, with a quarterback coming off a three-interception game. The Chargers secondary gave up huge catches to the likes of Chris Moore, Treylon Burks, and Chioziem Okonkwo. The latter two are very talented players but still are young and developing. Ryan Tannehill had his way against the Chargers secondary, keeping the chains moving and the box heavy with defenders.
If the Chargers want to improve they must improve in the secondary, as getting completely beat up on by the Dolphins is one thing, but getting torched by the notably bad passing attack of the Titans is another. Chargers will have their hands full in week three, going up against a very dynamic passing attack in the Minnesota Vikings.
Problem #3 – Time of Possession
Something that isn’t brought up enough when talking about what went wrong against the Titans, is the fact of time of possession. The Titans had the ball for 36 minutes and 49 seconds, compared to the Chargers’ 28 minutes and nine seconds. When playing a run-first team, you cannot get into the trap of losing the time of possession battle, as if you do not have a strong run game to combat this, you will lose.
The Chargers as mentioned before had a very lackluster run game in week two, leading to them being a pass-only attack. Falling behind on the sticks, having third and longs, not being able to convert those third and longs, and quick drives will have you lose a game in overtime to a tougher, better-coached team.
To improve, it is simple. Re-establish a competent running game, and continue to have an efficient passing attack, as Justin Herbert played a very good game. Though he wasn’t perfect, it was an effective game. The offense needs to complement each other for the Chargers to have a chance of winning the game in the near future.
Overall, the Chargers have done what they are best at; losing close games (and giving fans anxiety). This can change, and belief is still there, as the Chargers barely lost both of their matchups against teams that are well-coached, talented, and dynamic in their own ways. If the Chargers want to get back on track, it starts against the Minnesota Vikings.
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