Chargers look forward to bye Week After Lose to the Ravens

The Los Angeles Chargers arrived in Baltimore this last weekend riding a three-game winning streak. At 4-1 and coming off three tough emotional victories, beating the 4-1 Baltimore Ravens was going to be a tough task. As it turned out, an impossible task. The Ravens never gave the Chargers any hope, slamming the team from Los Angeles 34-6.

The loss dropped the Chargers to 4-2 and into a tie for first place with the Las Vegas Raiders. The Ravens won their fifth consecutive game and improved to 5-1. The loss was the epitome of a beatdown. The Chargers were beaten in all three phases of the game by the Ravens. The Ravens dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

The Chargers were held to a season low of 208 yards in total offense. They were held to just 26 yards rushing, with quarterback Justin Herbert leading the team in rushing yardage with just 12 yards. That is never a good sign. The Ravens, on the other hand, had 187 yards rushing on the ground alone. Raven quarterback Lamar Jackson completed 19 of 27 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown, although he did throw two interceptions.

The longest offensive drive of the day for the Chargers was a nine play, 38-yard drive in the fourth quarter. The Ravens had a 12 play, 90-yard drive on their first offensive series, culminating in a Latavius Murray 14-yard touchdown run. On their second offensive series, the Ravens drove 74 yards in eight plays, with Le'Veon Bell scoring on a two-yard touchdown run. Those two scores gave the Ravens a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.

The Chargers finally got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter. An interception by linebacker Kyzir White setup the Chargers offense with a first down at the Ravens 27-yard line. After a 26-yard completion to wide receiver Mike Williams got the Chargers to the one-yard line, Herbert connected with tight end Jared Cook in the back of the end zone for a one-yard touchdown pass. The extra point from kicker Tristan Vizcaino was no good, the fifth extra point he has missed this season.

That score before halftime cut the lead to 17-6. The Ravens never allowed the game to get closer than that. Devin Duvernay returned the second half opening kickoff to the Ravens 48-yard line. The Ravens then drove 52 yards in 12 plays, with this drive ending in a nine-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to tight end Mark Andrews. That gave the Ravens a 24-6 lead. The drive took up half of the third quarter clock and ended any hopes the Chargers had of coming back.

At his press conference on Monday, head coach Brandon Staley reflected on Sunday's loss to the Ravens. "What happened was we were a little bit off with our execution early in the game, specifically offensively. When you start out with three punts and an interception, you don't get off to a good start. We weren't able to impact the game defensively, early, with a takeaway, with a three and out. And in special teams, we weren't able to turn the tide there to get our offense going. I felt like in all three phases, we didn't start very well."

Staley saw this is a learning experience, adding that, "We had a tough day, 34-6, but there are a lot of lessons, I think, that we can take away, and that we just got done talking about that are going to help us moving forward because that's as good of a rushing attack that you're going to find because of how they rush the ball. We're improving there. Hopefully, we get some guys healthy. Hopefully, we can come back after the bye and take even more steps forward."

One area of concern that needs to be addressed is the run defense. The Chargers are last in defensive rushing yards at 162.5 yards per game and last in rushing average per carry at 5.4 yards per carry. The Chargers have a playoff team if they can stay healthy and improve their run defense. The run defense has been physically overwhelmed at times this season and along with missed tackles, is putting a lot of pressure on the offense to score points in order to keep up.

Against the Ravens, that did not happen. The Ravens gave the Chargers some looks on defense that they had not seen before on film, and it just seemed to throw off the performance of Herbert. He was off all day long, under constant pressure from the Ravens pass rush. The Chargers were unable to run the ball, as the Ravens dominated on the defensive line.

As Staley noted, "Defensively, we can't get behind 14-0. In the kicking game, we can't ask Justin [Herbert] to go 84 yards because the ball is on the 16-yard line because we have a bad return and now the crowd is going crazy. It's a team operation. That's my takeaway from the game. We have to play better in all three phases so that Justin can perform at his best."

The Chargers do have a bye this week and they need it. They need to get healthy on defense. Linebackers Drew Tranquill and Kenneth Murray, and defensive tackle Justin Jones were not available for Sunday's game but will hopefully be available for the Chargers next game on October 31st at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood against the New England Patriots.

Tranquill, Murray and Jones are all starters on defense and would help in the run defense. The Chargers are still in good shape overall, as they are tied for first place in the AFC West and the schedule over the next month will not be as tough as it has been over the past month. If the season ended after Week 6, the Chargers would be in the playoffs, so they just need to use the bye week to get healthy and find some answers to the issues with the run defense.


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