Culver City Observer -

By Bill Seals
Sports Reporter 

Injury riddled Chargers fall to the Seattle Seahawks

 

October 27, 2022

George Laase

Defensive lineman, Austin Johnson puts pressure on Denver's quarterback Russell Wilson during a recent game at SoFi Stadium.

Hall of Fame football Coach Bill Parcells once said, "You are what your record says you are." He might

have made an exception with the 2022 Los Angeles Chargers, who are 4-3 after falling to the Seattle

Seahawks, 37-23, in a game played last Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The 4-3 Chargers do not

look like a team with a winning record at this point, especially after blowout losses at home to the

Jacksonville Jaguars and Seahawks.

The injury riddled Chargers fell behind 17-0 after one quarter to the Seahawks, closed the gap to 17-14

in the second quarter, scoring touchdowns on back-to-back offensive possessions. That was as close as

the game would get, as the Seahawks went on a 20-2 run from there to take a 37-16 lead. Charger

quarterback Justin Herbert threw a first quarter interception and had a first quarter fumble that

contributed to the early Seahawk lead. The Chargers have fallen behind by double digits in the first

quarter in their last three games.

The Chargers had a huge, missed opportunity shortly after the opening kick. Cornerback Asante

Samuel Jr. deflected a pass intended for Seahawk wide receiver Tyler Lockett up into the air, which

landed in the arms of linebacker Kenneth Murray, who returned it to the Seahawks 41-yard line. Four

offensive plays later, the Chargers gave the ball back to the Seahawks on their 32-yard line.

The play calling, which consisted of three Austin Ekeler runs up the middle and a short pass to the

right to Ekeler, came up inches short of a first down. The play calling was conservative. There were no

attempts to go downfield, and everything involved Ekeler, who is a running back. Eight plays and 68

yards later, the Seahawks took a 7-0 lead on a Geno Smith 20-yard touchdown pass to Marquise

Goodwin. Smith, the former Charger backup quarterback, threw for two touchdowns in the game.

"Certainly not the way that you want to start the football game," Charger head coach Brandon Staley

said after the game. "That definitely wasn't our goal today. We started off the game, defensively, with a

big takeaway, and then we turned the ball over on downs. We throw an interception, we fumble. It's

really hard to get momentum when you start the game like that."

Staley added that, "We were able to fight our way back and get back into the game, but there's a lot

of energy that goes with that. Then, we just didn't play a clean enough second half in any phase to

create any momentum and to get the lead back. Just didn't play well enough today in any phase."

In the last two games, both at home, the Chargers have scored a total of 35 points. They have

become one dimensional offensively. In the past two games, Herbert has thrown a total of 108 passes,

57 passes against the Broncos and 51 passes against the Seahawks. The Chargers simply struggle to run

the ball. They average 3.7 yards per carry which is 26th in the NFL and they don't have anyone behind

Ekeler, especially now that backup Joshua Kelly is out with a knee injury. They rushed for 53 yards on

Sunday.

The offense revolves around Ekeler in a way that is probably not healthy long term. Ekeler is the third

leading receiver in the NFL with 53 receptions and he easily leads all running backs in receptions and

targets (61). Christian McCaffrey of the 49ers is second to Ekeler in both categories among running

backs with 35 receptions and 45 targets. Ekeler averages 6.7 yards per reception, which ranks 129th in

the NFL.

Ekeler averages 4.5 yards per carry and is 22 nd in the NFL with 380 yards rushing. He is tied for the

league lead in touchdowns scored with eight touchdowns. With injuries to their top four wide receivers,

the rib cartilage injury to Herbert, Kelly's knee injury, and a variety of injuries to the offensive line, the

team has become very dependent on Ekeler to carry the offense. The wide receiver group has struggled

to get open, which has made Herbert even more dependent on Ekeler.

Herbert was sacked three times and hit eight times and was under constant pressure to get rid of the

ball quickly, which has led to the Dink-and-Dunk passing offense. "I thought that we got beat up front,"

Staley said. "We couldn't run the football. We didn't protect the passer very well, so it's going to be

tough to move the ball and score points. That's where it started today."

While the offense struggled to run the ball, the defense struggled to stop the run. The Seahawks ran

for 214 yards on the Chargers, led by Kenneth Walker, the rookie running back out of Michigan State.

Walker ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns, including a 74-yard touchdown run that helped seal the

victory for the Seahawks in the fourth quarter. The defense has been without star linebacker Joey Bosa,

who is on the injured reserve with an injured groin.

The defense also lost cornerback J.C. Jackson for the season in Sunday's game. Jackson suffered a

knee injury, specifically a ruptured patellar tendon injury. Jackson was a pro bowl cornerback for the

New England Patriots last season and signed with the Chargers in the offseason. The Chargers made him

JEVONE MOORE

Charger quarterback Justin Herbert has thrown 108 posses in the last two games. Here he looks for an open receiver last Sunday.

the highest paid corner in the NFL, but he has struggled in the Staley defensive scheme and is currently

ranked in the bottom five of cornerbacks in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.

Staley was asked after the game what he told the team. "Exactly what I told them is that we're 4-3,"

Staley said. "The reality is that through seven games, we've had to fight really hard to be 4-3. We've

endured a lot. Our season is in front of us, which is the truth."

The Chargers have a bye this week and will use it to rest and try to find some answers to their issues.

They will return to play the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday, November 6th . As Coach Parcells once said,

"Blame Nobody, Expect Nothing, Do Something." That something would be to find some healthy players

and figure out a way to beat the Falcons.

 

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