The Los Angeles Chargers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, to no one’s surprise. The team has now gone nine straight games against their in-division rivals from Missouri without securing a win. While we have come to expect losses against the Chiefs over the years, this one was especially frustrating.
This game proved the importance of being mentally prepared and how infuriating it can be when the team is not that. There were numerous instances throughout the four quarters of play where the team showed signs of life, but then a mental lapse negated any momentum that they gathered.
The primary example of this being the team’s five drops in the first half, several of which would have ended up resulting in big plays or even touchdowns had they been caught. The most egregious of these drops occurred during the second quarter when wide receiver Tyrell Williams let what would have been the easiest touchdown of his career slip between his outstretched hands.
This drive still resulted in a touchdown, luckily, but it is an example of one of the team’s most significant recurring issues. This issue being them making things much harder than they need to be. While it did work out in this instance, offenses usually can not afford to miss out on easy opportunities for points in such a fashion.
The team had several other terrible drops throughout the game, especially in the first half, but drops were not the only kind of mental errors that lost the team the game. What turned out to be the play that killed the team’s chances of victory was returner J.J. Jones infuriating double fumble on a fourth-quarter punt return.
The Chargers were in a position to get the ball back down just nine points with over ten minutes left in the game. That was until Jones muffed a punt resulting in the Chiefs regaining possession in the red zone, which later resulted in the touchdown that put the game nearly out of reach.
Seeing this should have sent a shot of agony down the spine of Chargers’ fans far and wide. But this wasn’t the case (I think.) Seeing the team’s chances of victory collapse due to a mental error is almost expected at this point.
Whether it be a botched field goal, muffed kick, or dropped a touchdown, the Los Angeles Chargers always find a way to shoot themselves in the foot. This is an overarching, organizational issue the team has and must fix if they wish to every genuinely find success.
This loss also put on display many of the issues the team had coaching wise from last season. The offensive gameplan was still too vanilla and run-heavy, especially on early downs, and Gus Bradley continued with his infatuation of having linebackers cover wide receivers in space.
But things are not all gloom and doom for the Chargers.
I know, I just finished harshly criticizing the team, but there is one thing we must all keep in mind. This loss is not the end of the world. It is just week one.
This team has many areas they must improve upon if they wish to live up to their offseason hype, it’s true. But to think this team is dead in the water after losing to a very good team who regularly puts up an impressive week one performance is an overreaction.
The Kansas City Chiefs have a very different offensive system than we have seen in years past, as they made the necessary changes to form their offense around what second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes does best. Anytime a team makes a schematic alteration such as this one; they start the season strongly because their exact offense has yet to be put on film for opponent defensive coordinators to study.
You can look at last year’s Los Angeles Rams, this year’s Washington Redskins, and even last year’s Kansas City Chiefs as examples of similar early-season success due to lack of familiarity by opposing teams.
Andy Reid is one of the best in the league at altering his offense on a nearly annual basis, which is why the Chiefs seem always to start the year strongly.
Combine this with the team’s plays mentioned above in which they shot themselves in the foot, and it is not hard to see why they did not come out victorious. But it is also not hard to see why this loss is not an indictment on their season to come.
Not every team will have an offense as potent as the now Mahomes led Chiefs and not every game will feature the Chargers beating themselves mentally (hopefully). The team will improve as the season goes on, as they usually do.
They may not currently be the title contenders many have touted them to be, but they also might be. It is just week one, and we have no idea what the team will look like come January.
Last season, many around the league thought the New Orleans Saints to be one of the league’s worst teams after two weeks. It turns out they were one botched hail mary away from being in the NFC Championship game.
Are the Los Angeles Chargers this year’s Saints? Perhaps not. But it goes to show how volatile the early portion of the season is and how we would all be wise not to overreact to these games regardless of the outcomes.
No, you should not be particularly encouraged by how week one played out, but you should also not write the team off (yet.)