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Don’t Blame the Defense for the Collapse in Jacksonville

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The Chargers need a lot more from other parts of the team if they want to win games.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When you sit back and look at everything that happened throughout the game, it'll be hard to find a more frustrating Chargers loss than what we saw take place in Jacksonville on Sunday.

They had so many chances to put that game away. It was right there for them to take. However, this is Chargers, and they wouldn't be who they are without finding a way to blow the game in such a fashion that no other team in the league is capable of doing.

So instead of being a legit threat for wildcard contention, the Chargers now find themselves in a position where it’s probably best for them to tank for the best possible draft position. Let’s take a look at who played a role in sending the team to 3-6.

George Stewart

The Chargers’ first-year special teams coordinator hasn’t done any to change this unit. They’re still among the league’s worst and it honestly looks no different than last year.

It’s crazy to me that they weren’t prepared for this. As a coach, you HAVE to be aware and know there’s a chance they’ll run this simply because they’ve done it before.

Also, on a 4th and 1 punt, Jacksonville was flagged for running into the kicker. This gives the Chargers a first down and another chance to get down the field and score.

But...

Michael Davis gets flagged for illegal touching. The penalties offset. Chargers punt again. It’s amazing to see how a guy who spends 95% of his time on special teams doesn’t know that you can’t be the first to touch the ball if you were already out of bounds. It reflects back to bad coaching if your players don’t know this. Especially the ones who have one job to do.

Ken Whisenhunt

For whatever reason, the offense just can’t get going this year. They average 18.6 points per game this season. Only nine teams average less. After only managing 17 points on Sunday, the Chargers are still one of only five teams in the entire league to not score 30+ points in a single game this season.

There’s been a lot of questionable and timid play-calling this year, but the most confusing thing about Whisenhunt has been his inability to keep arguably the team’s best offensive playmaker involved throughout a game.

It’s simple. The Chargers are at their best when he’s featured. It shouldn’t be that hard to get your best players the ball.

Melvin Gordon

Melvin Gordon just isn’t what fans thought he'd be. In 36 career games, he’s rushed for 100+ yards only five times. On Sunday, against one of the league’s worst run-defenses, he managed 27 yards on 16 carries for an average of 1.7 yards per carry. He gave them nothing.

It’ll be interesting to see how much longer the coaching staff decides to go with Gordon as the primary back. He’s just not producing at the level the team needs. I know people love to blame the run blocking, but there’s been room for Gordon this year. He’s just not capitalizing.

At this point, it’s clear that Austin Ekeler is the team’s the best option at the position.

Philip Rivers

Philip Rivers wasn’t completely at fault for this loss. But, when the team needed him most, he did what he’s done for a few years now by reverting back to hero-ball and poor throws. Here’s second and third down on their last drive of the game.

Rivers has talked over the years about his “hero-ball” habit and how it hurts the team, but yet, he still goes back into that mode when games get tight. It’s not what you want to see from a veteran QB in close games. Especially in this situation when there’s no reason to rush since your defense just got the stop in OT that you needed.

So about the defense...

It would be pretty unreasonable to ask the defense to do more than what they did on Sunday. They did a really nice job on Fournette by holding him to only 33 yards on 17 carries and no touchdowns. He averaged a league-high 99 rushing yards per game prior to Sunday.

Bortles wasn’t anything special either. He went 28/51 for 273 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. It was a solid effort all-around by the defense.

Blaming Joey Bosa for the garbage roughing the passer call that put them in field goal range before overtime would be ridiculous. Rivers is in concussion protocol at this exact moment for a hit that worse and no flag was thrown.

Blaming Tre Boston for going straight to the sideline instead of getting more yards would be just as crazy. If Boston tried to get more yards and ended up fumbling, everybody would be screaming and wondering why he didn’t just get down or go out of bounds.

Both of those things became irrelevant anyway when the defense got the stop in overtime. All they needed to do was score and they win. But instead, it was more of what we’ve seen for much of the season. Defense gets stops, offense leaves them hanging. You can’t and won’t win like this.