The Chargers opened with one of the toughest two-game stretches for any team in the league. They’re 1-1 with the softest part of their schedule coming up. Unfortunately, there’s a chance they do not begin that stretch with their starting quarterback.
Justin Herbert is currently dealing with a fracture to his rib cartilage. That doesn’t sound great, but it’s much better than an actual fracture to one of his ribs. As it stands, it’ll come down to Herbert’s pain tolerance and whether or not the coaching staff believes it’s worth throwing him out there against Jacksonville 10 days post-injury.
In the meantime, the Chargers did not see a ton of movement in this week’s power rankings. They looked dominant against the Chiefs more often than not and the entire game essentially came down to one play. Losing to the Kansas City shouldn’t be that much of a blemish towards their standing in the league.
Let’s go ahead and see what the damage, shall we?
The Ringer - #4
New York Post - #4
“Two concerns moving forward: First, Justin Herbert suffered a fracture to his rib cartilage that severely limited his mobility — but not his ability to throw darts — late in the loss to the Chiefs. Second, head coach Brandon Staley punted twice on fourth-and-2 near midfield. The NFL’s biggest fourth-down gambler looked conservative in a 27-24 loss.” - Ryan Dunleavy
Bleacher Report - #5
“It’s bad enough that after five of the Chargers’ eight losses in 2021 were by seven points or fewer the Bolts suffered another close defeat on Thursday—this one a three-point setback in Kansas City against the rival Chiefs.”
“But in defeat, the Bolts also suffered a significant injury. After taking a number of hard shots in the second half, quarterback Justin Herbert suffered fractured cartilage in his ribs. Head coach Brandon Staley expressed relief that the injury wasn’t more serious but allowed that he wasn’t sure about Herbert’s status for Week 3’s home date with the Jaguars.”
““I think we got good news in terms of what the CT scan expressed,’ Staley said. ‘I think playing quarterback, you don’t want it to be the bones. The fact that it’s cartilage is a good sign. It’s just going to come down to comfort. We’re just gonna have to make sure that he’s comfortable. We’re not going to know more about how he feels until later on in the week.’”
“The Chargers at least caught a break with the schedule should Herbert miss time—Los Angeles doesn’t play another team that made the playoffs in 2021 until facing the 49ers in San Francisco in Week 10.”
“But in an AFC West where no team has much margin for error, losing Herbert for any length of time would be a massive blow.” - NFL Staff
ESPN - #6
“Herbert was hit eight times and sacked twice in the Chargers’ 27-24 loss to the Chiefs. In the fourth quarter, the quarterback went to the sideline after one monstrous hit, only to return and get crunched between two defensive players. Now, the third-year pro is dealing with fractured rib cartilage. If the Chargers want to capitalize on their offseason investments (Khalil Mack, J.C. Jackson), they must protect Herbert so he can make it through the season.” - Lindsey Thiry
USA Today - #6
“The Bolts should be comfortably favored in their next six games ... presuming QB Justin Herbert stops absorbing hits that fold him like a lawn chair.” - Nate Davis
NFL.com - #7
“The Chargers showed once again they have the talent to hang with any team in football. But getting over the hump? To graduate from good team to conference superpower? They’re not there yet. An opportunity for an Arrowhead upset disappeared when Jaylen Watson stepped in front of a Justin Herbert pass in the fourth quarter and took it 99 yards the other way for the decisive score. It was a painful game for the Bolts quarterback in more ways than one: Herbert gutted through the game’s waning minutes with an injury later diagnosed as a rib cartilage tear. Yes, he threw a laser-like post-injury TD pass. Brandon Staley leaving the most important figure in the organization on the field in that state was still not a great look.” - Dan Hanzus
The Athletic - #7
“Win-loss record aside, there may not be a team in the league that has disappointed more than the Chargers in terms of showing us what we thought we were going to see. In his first year as head coach, Brandon Staley was the most aggressive coach in the league on fourth down. In the Thursday night loss to the Chiefs, Staley opted not to go for it on fourth down five separate times recommended by Ben Baldwin’s fourth-down bot. Not all of those were obvious decisions, but it was curious to see Staley, who has been so thoughtful about the process behind that decision-making, become demure all of a sudden.”
“As the great Princeton wide receivers coach Brian Flinn says, you can’t date the analytics, you have to marry them. Taking advantage of those small edges on the margins only plays out in your favor if you do it over the long run. Now, it’s possible the Chargers’ model has changed to some degree, but they were playing a high-powered Chiefs offense. If anything, you would think that would incentivize Staley to be even more aggressive, no matter how much better his defense is.”
“‘They have a different team on offense. We have a different defense. We have a different kicking game,’ Staley told Daniel Popper after the game. ‘And I felt like early in the game what you want to do is be able to take the crowd out of the football game, and I think early on that was the thought process.’”
“We have come a long way in a short time from Staley being the league’s analytics darling to him all of a sudden spouting things like ‘take the crowd out of the football game’ and ‘flip the field.’ That’s also not the only cause for concern from a coaching staff that was considered a value add two weeks ago. There was the sideline missing Gerald Everett trying to tap out on the game-deciding pick-six, and what looked like borderline medical malpractice in keeping the person who holds the franchise on his shoulders in the game despite his heroic effort to play through pain. Maybe worse is how stale the offense looks, as if it’s uninterested in taking advantage of Justin Herbert’s unhuman tools.”
“There’s still a long season to go, and if Asante Samuel Jr. catches the possible pick-six that went through his hands, we might not be having this discussion. But the Chargers no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt.” - Bo Wulf
Yahoo Sports - #8
“All the attention this week will be on Justin Herbert and his rib cartilage fracture. Needless to say, the Chargers aren’t winning many games if Herbert has to sit out, or if he is limited in any way. He was clearly in a lot of pain on Thursday night, though he still completed two fourth-down passes including a touchdown after the injury.” - Frank Schwab