LA Chargers Drop Home Game to Texans 27-20
September 26, 2019
Hall of fame football coach Bill Parcells once said that, "You lose with potential. You win with performance." The 2019 Los Angeles Chargers are a team full of potential. But to this point, the performance has been lacking.
For the fifth straight season, the Chargers have started the season with a losing record after their first three games, losing to the Houston Texans 27-20 on Sunday at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson. The loss dropped the Chargers to 1-2 for the season.
The Chargers started off well, taking a 17-7 halftime lead by scoring on three of their five first half possessions, controlling the pace of the game and limiting the Texans star quarterback, Deshaun Watson, to seven points in the first half.
Charger quarterback Philip Rivers threw for two first half touchdowns, both to wide receiver Keenan Allen. Unfortunately, the Texans are also a good team full of potential as well and they came back with three second half touchdowns, led by Watson.
The second half of games for the Chargers has not worked as well. They have been outscored in the second half of games this season 45-10. They blew a 15-point, third quarter lead against the Colts before winning in overtime. They lost a fourth quarter lead at Detroit with a myriad of mistakes.
Against the Texans, they had a 10-point third quarter lead before falling apart. It is a pattern that started last season with their home loss to the Denver Broncos.
Charger head coach Anthony Lynn is aware of the problem, stating: "We have got to figure out a way to finish. We keep putting ourselves in a position to win these football games and we're not finishing. We've got a lot of football left, a lot of character in that locker room."
"I have no doubt those young men and the coaching staff are going to turn this thing around," he added. "We had another touchdown called back on offense for holding, so we are shooting ourselves in the foot and as coaching staff, we've got to get that right."
The Chargers are battling a combination of injuries and mental mistakes this season. The injury to tight end Hunter Henry has really hurt the passing game in the red zone and exposed a lack of receiving depth at the tight end position. Henry played in the first game of the season, catching 4 passes for 60 yards.
He was targeted five times. In the past two games, the other three Charger tight ends have caught a combination of two passes for 22 yards, with a total of five targets in two games.
Tight end Sean Culkin dropped a key fourth quarter pass in the loss to the Texans, his only target of the season. Wide receiver Mike Williams has been battling a knee injury and has not had a great start to his 2019 season. He has eight receptions in three games.
Speedy wide receiver Travis Benjamin has four receptions for 17 yards in three games. He has suddenly got older and slower. These issues have limited the passing options of Rivers to Allen and running back Austin Ekeler.
Allen and Ekeler have caught 62 percent of the passes Rivers has completed and have combined for all five touchdown catches. Ekeler has caught 19 of 20 targets and Allen leads the NFL in pass receptions at 29 and targets at 42. But Rivers needs contributions from the rest of the offensive unit to convert first downs and score touchdowns.
The offensive line, with the loss of starting left tackle Russell Okung to health concerns, has not looked good this season. Rivers was beat up on Sunday against the Texans, getting sacked 5 times and hit a total of 12 times. The Texans had 12 tackles for losses in the game.
Texan quarterback Deshaun Watson was a magician in Sunday's game. The "Houston Houdini" seemed to disappear under tackles and sacks to evade the rush and complete passes for first downs and touchdowns. Watson slashed through the defense, completing 25-of-34 passes, for 351 yards and three touchdowns. Rivers also had a good game despite the sacks and hits, with two touchdown passes to Allen, completing 31 of 46 passes for 318 yards.
Both Watson and Rivers have a lot of respect for each other. Said Watson: "He's a veteran guy that's played 17 years and won a lot of football games, played a lot of playoff games. To come in his house and compete with him is special. I actually saw him before I was walking in (to the press conference) and he came - actually I think he came looking for me - and called my name and said great job, continue to grow and I have a bright future and I'll see you in January, so looking forward to that."
There is a lot of football to be played yet, but this would be a great rematch in the playoffs in January. The Chargers will have a favorable upcoming schedule, with the Miami Dolphins, the Broncos and the Pittsburgh Steelers over the next three weeks. These three teams have a combined 0-9 record. The game at Miami, which is next Sunday, Sept. 29, is in Miami. The game starts at 10 a.m. Pacific time.