Chargers head to Tampa Bay with a two-game losing Streak
October 1, 2020
The Carolina Panthers came to Los Angeles with a ten-game regular season losing streak. They left the city with their first victory since Week Nine of last season (Nov. 3, 2019 against the Titans), a 21-16 upset win over the Chargers. The Panthers used four turnovers by the Chargers and Joey Slye kicked five field goals in the Panther victory.
The Panthers used three first half turnovers to take an 18-7 halftime lead, with 12 points coming as a result of three turnovers. Defensive end Brian Burns caused the first turnover by strip-sacking Charger quarterback Justin Herbert on the Chargers' second possession. Linebacker Tahir Whitehead recovered the loose ball at the Chargers 48, leading to a Panther field goal.
After a Chargers touchdown, linebacker Shaq Thompson forced a fumble on rookie running back Joshua Kelley's 16-yard run, recovering it himself at the Carolina 43-yard line. That led to a Panther touchdown. Mike Davis caught quarterback Teddy Bridgewater's screen pass and took it 13 yards to the end zone. Charger safety Nasir Adderley blocked Slye's extra-point attempt.
At the end of the first half, Panther cornerback Donte Jackson stepped in front of Charger wide receiver Keenan Allen and intercepted Herbert's pass. He returned it 66 yards to the Charger 8-yard line. Two plays later, Slye was good from 22 yards on a field goal attempt, giving the Panthers an 18-7 halftime lead.
Charger head coach Anthony Lynn summed it up best, stating that, "You cannot win in this league when you turn the ball over four times and that's on me. I got to do a better job of teaching this team how to win because in this league you give yourself about a 10 percent chance of winning when you turn it over four times. Coaches have got to do a better job of eliminating the stupid mistakes and the turnovers."
This was not a good loss for the Chargers. The loss left the Chargers at 1-2, with road games this week at Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers and the following week at New Orleans to take on the Saints. The Chargers got away from their running game and threw 49 passes against the Panthers, which did not turn out well for the team.
Herbert brought the Chargers back to within 21-16 with a 14-yard touchdown strike to Allen with 4:39 remaining. The 2-point attempt failed and that turned out to be critical for the Chargers. The Chargers got the ball back with 1:43 remaining in the game. They drove to the Carolina 28 before the drive stalled.
In the final seconds of the game Herbert had Allen open in the end zone with 6 seconds left but former Charger Tre Boston deflected the pass away. On the final play, Allen caught the ball at the Carolina 15, but his hook-n--lateral attempt to Austin Ekeler was too high and the ball hit the fground to end the game. Had Ekeler caught it he had a clear path into the end zone with the winning touchdown. Had the Chargers made the two-point conversion earlier in the quarter, they would have only needed a field goal to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Herbert completed 35 of 49 passes for 330 yards and one touchdown, with one interception. The Chargers only ran the ball on 23 offensive plays and just seemed to give up on the running the ball early.
The Panthers were aggressive on defense, with two sacks and eight quarterback hits. The hits on Herbert took a toll on the rookie quarterback, including one in the fourth quarter that knocked the wind out of him and caused the Chargers to use a timeout.
The Chargers expected pressure on their young quarterback from the Panthers. "We knew they were going to bring more pressure. We were expecting them to bring pressure," Lynn said. "They beat us around the edge and got a turnover. But for the most part, I thought we got the ball out on time and handled the pressure well."
The Chargers have a good football team. They are ranked at 6th in the NFL in total offensive yardage at 425.7 yards per game. On defense, the Chargers are ranked 8th on defense allowing 337 yards per game. The Chargers and the Arizona Cardinals are the only two NFL teams that are ranked in the top ten on both offense and defense.
The Chargers losses are due to the same issue they had last season. They keep turning the ball over on offense and they are not creating turnovers on defense. The Chargers had a -17 turnover ratio last season, which was tied with the New York Giants for worst in the NFL. They were last in the NFL in 2019 with just 14 takeaways.
The bottom ten teams in the turnover ratio category in 2019 all had losing records. For the Chargers to avoid another losing season in 2020, they need to fix this issue. They are at a -3-turnover ratio after three games. They are trending in the wrong direction early in the 2020 season.
One of the positives for the Chargers is the play of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert. Although both games he has played in have resulted in losses, the offensive is moving the ball well in the air. Herbert is averaging 320.5 yards per game, which is third in the NFL in passing yardage per game. He is the third quarterback in NFL history to throw for over 300 yards in his first two NFL games, joining Kyler Murray and Cam Newton in this category. Chargers week 1 starter Tyrod Taylor has thrown over 300 yards just once in his 47 starts.
Herbert is establishing a connection with Allen, who has 20 receptions for 228 yards with one touchdown playing with Herbert. Allen had four receptions for 37 yards in his one game with Taylor. But most importantly, Herbert is getting invaluable experience that will serve him well in the future.
The future for Herbert will continue this week at Tampa Bay, with Taylor apparently out for another week. The Bucs are ranked third in rushing defense in the NFL at 70.3 yards per game, so it will be a challenge for the Chargers to get the running game going against the Buc's run defense. Offensively, the Bucs will be missing their All-Pro wide receiver Chris Godwin, who is out due to a hamstring injury.
The Chargers will be missing cornerback Chris Harris, who is out for 4-to-6 weeks after suffering a foot injury during Sunday's game against Carolina. The Chargers have lost five defensive starters to injuries this season and while there is good depth on defense, the defense would be better with the missing starters. Safety Derwin James, linebacker Drue Tranquill, defensive tackle Justin Jones, defensive end Melvin Ingram, and Harris are all defensive starters lost to injuries.
This week's matchup for the Chargers, as stated earlier, will be at Tampa Bay and will start locally at 10:00 a.m. The game will be televised locally on the CBS Television Network. The Bucs are seven-point favorites and will be led by six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady. This would be a good game for the Chargers to eliminate turnovers and win the turnover battle.