Chargers head to Houston after blowout loss to the Jaguars
September 29, 2022
The season is young, but in the words of singer Jackson Browne, the Los Angeles Chargers are already "Running on Empty." On Sunday at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars hammered the Chargers, 38-10, in a game that the Jaguars never trailed in. The victory ended an 18-game losing streak on the road for the Jaguars.
The victory also moved the Jaguars to 2-1 for the young season and in first place in the AFC South. The victory was only the fourth in 19 games on the west coast and easily their largest margin of victory ever on the west coast. The Chargers fall to 1-2 for the season and in third place in the AFC West.
The Chargers were missing three pro bowl starters in the game with injury: Wide receiver Keenan Allen missed his second straight game with a hamstring injury, cornerback J.C. Jackson has inflammation in his ankle from his recent ankle surgery, and center Corey Linsley has a knee injury.
Pro Bowl quarterback Justin Herbert was playing with a fractured rib cartilage, which clearly effected his level of play on Sunday. During the game, the Chargers lost pro bowl linebacker Joey Bosa to a groin injury, pro bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater suffered a biceps injury and speedy wide receiver Jalen Guyton suffered an ACL knee injury. Slater and Guyton are both done for the season and Bosa will be out for 2-4 weeks. Bosa could end up on the injured reserve, which would keep him out of the next four games.
The loss of these key players and the blowout loss to the Jaguars have led the Chargers to an early season crossroads as they head to Houston for Game 4 of their 17-Game regular season schedule. The Chargers rushed for just 26 yards in the game. They are last in the NFL in rushing yardage per game and last in rushing yardage per carry at 2.6 yards per carry.
The Houston Texans, 0-2-1 for the season, could be the answer to the Chargers running game problems, at least for this week. The Texans are last in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 202.3 yards per game and last in yards per carry at 5.6 yards per carry. The Chargers and their league worst rushing offense versus the Texans and their league worst rushing defense. Something has to give.
The Chargers, with their assorted injuries, are going to need to be able to successfully run the ball if they are going to have a shot at winning games and a playoff berth. Herbert will be playing with this rib injury until it gets better, which could linger for 4-6 weeks or longer. To avoid getting hit, Herbert is forced to get the ball out of his hand quickly and with the injuries on the offensive line and at wide receiver, throwing 40-50 passes a game is not a good idea.
The Chargers players held a players-only meeting after the game, which is understandable given the results of the game. The Chargers were outcoached, outplayed, and could not match the energy of the Jaguars, despite having ten days to prepare for the Jaguars. After a game like that, the Chargers need a win.
Herbert had a pass intercepted deep in Charger territory by rookie linebacker Devin Lloyd which led to a field goal and he also fumbled on a sack that led to a Jaguar touchdown. Two turnovers leading to ten points to help give the Jags a 13-0 lead in the second quarter. Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the 22-year-old star from Clemson in his second season, lived up to his college hype.
Lawrence completed 28 of 39 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Lawrence was not sacked in the game and barely touched throughout the game. Running back James Robinson had 100 yards rushing, including a 50-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Wide receiver Zay Jones had 10 receptions for 85 yards and one touchdown.
After the game, Charger head coach Brandon Staley was asked about the offensive and defensive game plans for the game. "Obviously, they weren't good enough," Staley said. "They weren't good enough because we got outplayed today."
Herbert was 25 of 45 for 297 yards, with one touchdown, a 15-yard TD pass to star wide receiver Mike Williams in the second quarter. That was the only catch for Williams on Sunday, who struggled to get open without Allen on the field. The Jaguars were able to roll a safety over to Williams to eliminate any big plays. Herbert missed on a lot of throws that he would usually connect on due to the rib injury and the Jaguar pass rush.
Staley decided to keep Herbert in the game in the fourth quarter even though the Chargers were down by 28 points. On that decision, Staley said that Herbert "wanted to be out there with his teammates. He felt good and he wanted to finish the game. He wanted to give our group some energy. We were going to protect him there at the end with really sound protection as best we could, but it was more about him wanting to finish with his guys."
A questionable decision but one that will easily be forgotten if the Chargers win on Sunday at Houston. The game on Sunday, October 2nd, at Houston will start at 10:00 AM locally and will be televised on CBS. The Chargers suffered a late season loss in 2021 at Houston, 41-29, a loss that cost the Chargers a playoff berth. A loss this Sunday in Houston would put the Chargers in an early season hole and with the injuries to the Chargers could be difficult to recover from.