The Los Angeles Chargers fell to AFC West rival the Kansas City Chiefs with a final score of 24-10. The game was closer than the score implies, as the last Chiefs touchdown came on a 69-yard run by rookie phenom Kareem Hunt, it was a frustrating loss by the Chargers none the less. The Chargers offense, in particular, struggled all game.
Week Three Los Angeles Chargers Takeaways
1) Chargers Offense Struggles
The Chargers offense failed to do much against a sturdy Kansas City defense. While they had a very good drive early in the game (89 yard drive ending in a Melvin Gordon touchdown), the Chargers failed to move the ball effectively against the Chiefs.
Philip Rivers had one of the worst half’s of his career, as he threw three interceptions in the first half. Rivers played moderately better in the second half, but still failed to score.
A result like this is simply unacceptable from this offense. The Chargers boast a plethora of weapons, from star running back Gordon to elite receiver Keenan Allen and future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates. Travis Benjamin had over 100 yards receiving against the Chiefs. Combined with five time pro bowler Rivers, they should be able to compete with anyone. And they do. They just don’t win.
It isn’t immediately clear what the problem with the Chargers offense is. Many believe Rivers is past his prime. Others believe the coaching is to blame. Offensive coordinator Ken Wisenhunt runs a very conservative scheme. His schemes is built around running the ball up middle repeatedly, protecting the ball and controlling the clock. Many Chargers followers believe that this kind of scheme made sense several years ago when Rivers lacked the weapons he has now. With the offense stocked with firepower, perhaps it’s time to unleash it rather than bottling it up.
The offensive line still takes much of the blame for the failures of the Chargers offense. Rivers did face consistent pressure in the pocket. However, Rivers has only been sacked four times this year, two of those coming against the Chiefs.
Whatever the problem is, the Chargers will have to figure it out soon. The season is in danger of slipping away.
2) Chargers Defense Becoming Dominant
For every embarrassing three-and-out or turnover by the Chargers offense, the Chargers defense put together a series of tenacious plays. Outside of Hunt’s touchdown run, they limited the Chiefs to seven points in the second half. In fact, the Chiefs offense were only able to score on short fields as a result of Chargers turnovers (with the exception of Hunt’s run).
The leader of this defense is becoming apparent. Melvin Ingram, the 28-year old edge-rusher fresh off a four year contract with the Chargers, is the best player on the defense. Joey Bosa gets all the attention, and rightfully so. He was a top five pick and fantastic college athlete. That success translated into the NFL as Bosa’s 10.5 sack effort netted him the coveted Defensive Rookie of the Year award. He has continued to play well this season. Against the Chiefs, Bosa added half a sack to make his total of two sacks so far on the season.
As good as Bosa is, Ingram is the true threat on the defensive side of the ball. He has been simply unstoppable so far this season. With five and a half sacks, he has produced in all three games. He has also been extremely clutch, as his best play seems to come in the fourth quarter (he has at least one sack in each fourth quarter so far). Bosa is great, but Ingram is playing on a whole other level.
The defense is not without weak spots. Even so, Chargers have a core of blue-chip players, particularly Ingram and Bosa, that can lead this unit to success for years to come.
3) Failing to Establish a Fanbase
The Chargers are now 0-3 in their new city. For the second time in two games at Los Angeles, the opposing team had more fans in the stadium than the Chargers. Many assume that fans would come with success. If the Chargers were playing exciting football and decisively winning games, things could be different. The Los Angeles Rams have had some success. It is possible that they will succeed in cultivating a fan base in Los Angeles.
Rumors swirled this week as some believe the NFL is disgruntled over the Chargers move to Los Angeles. A few have even suggested that NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell and the other NFL owners are interested in moving the team back to San Diego. This seems unlikely, and perhaps logistically impossible as the team just fled the city. However, it is clear that the move to Los Angeles has not been what Chargers owner Dean Spanos believed it would be.
It would be easy, from a business perspective, to look at the over seven million people who live in Los Angeles and the nearby Orange County, and believe it to be ripe ground for a successful, and profitable, NFL franchise. Thus far, it has only proved to be a warm getaway for fans of opposing teams. Things could change, but there is little reason to believe they will.