The Chargers dropped another close game, falling 27-24 to the Titans on the road in Nashville.
The offense looked unstoppable at times, but that was evened out by too many three-and-outs, especially in pivotal moments throughout a back-and-forth contest. Ultimately, the Chargers fell into the perfect game script for the Titans to pound the rock en route to kicking a game-winning field goal in overtime.
Now at 0-2, the Chargers have an 11.5 percent chance to make the playoffs. The Bengals did just that a year ago, so we know it’s possible, but if this team can’t learn how to finish games than I don’t know where this team is headed in a year with sky-high expectations.
Below are three winners and twice as many losers from Sunday’s loss to the Titans.
WR Keenan Allen
Allen put on a vintage performance against the Titans and their dismal pass defense with 111 yards on eight receptions with a pair of touchdown catches to boot. He hurt the Titans on all three levels of the field, including the back end where he caught another pass of 35+ yards for the second consecutive game. This was an encouraging performance by the veteran who some may argue could be in one of his final years with the Chargers based on their current cap situation.
EDGE Joey Bosa
Joey Bosa was kept on a pitch count today, only brought into the game in high-leverage situations and obvious passing downs. In previous seasons, Joey has appeared winded and exhausted at the end of games, and not the dominant game-wrecker fans his reputation and contract suggest. A pass rush rotation seems like a logical way to get the most out of Joey Bosa, and today’s results could sway Staley to get Tuli Tuipulotu and Chris Rumph more opportunities. A rested Joey Bosa managed to get to the quarterback not once, but twice, in his first multi-sack game since Week 1 of the 2022 season.
EDGE Tuli Tuipulotu
This was an awesome game for Tuli Tuipulotu and I don’t want the game loss to overshadow what looked like the rookie’s first breakout game of his career. Tuli was a menace all day long for the Titans and he caused a ton of havoc on third downs. He should have arguably been credited with more than just one sack with the way he opened up rushing lanes for Joey Bosa, who notched the first two sacks of the season, as well.
An area where I believe Tuli thrived but won’t show up on the stat sheet was his ability to crash down on the backside of runs to hold backs to minimal gains. He was constantly hitting Derrick Henry and wrangling him near the LOS. This blew me away. I think the Chargers got a good one in the second-round pick out of USC.
CBs Asante Samuel Jr. and Michael Davis
One week after being sliced and diced by the Dolphins, the Chargers defense got a much easier task in the Titans who chucked three interception in Week One against the Saints. However, the Chargers actually made them look quite competent as Ryan Tannehill completed 20-of-24 passes for 246 yards. They held him to just one touchdown, but that lone score was their go-ahead score to put the pressure on the Chargers with 2:22 remaining in regulation.
Samuel’s biggest blunder came in the first half and led directly to the Titans’ first touchdown of the game. After a strong defensive start to the game, Tannehill went deep on a hard play-action pass to second year wideout Treyon Burks that sailed just over the head of Sameul for a massive 71-yard gain. Two plays later, Derrick Henry punched it in.
Davis was the victim on the Titan’s second-biggest play of the day, a 49-yard completion over the top to veteran Chris Moore which also happened to be his first and only reception of the 2023 season.
OLs Zion Johnson, Jamaree Salyer, and Corey Linsley
The Chargers’ interior line dominated against the Dolphins in Week 1. They set the tone in the run game early and limited the pass rush’s ability to get pressure until the last drive. This week was a far cry from that performance as the running game could get nothing going up particulary going between the tackles, the 61 yards total was well short of what could be considered a good day.
The biggest contributor to this seemed to be Zion Johnson, Jamaree Salyer, and Corey Linsley failing to slow down Denico Autry, Teair Tart and the imperious Jeffery Simmons. This mismatch continued in the passing game where interior pressure was a regular feature for Justin Herbert to deal with. The Titans earned 3 sacks, 5 QB hits and 6 TFLs overall, the starting interior group contributed 2 of the sacks, 3 of the QB hits and 3 of the TFLs.
QB Justin Herbert
This absolutely pains my heart to put this name in here, but despite how much we love our quarterback, we have to hold him accountable as well. There are only so many excuses we can make fore Justin not closing out games when in back to back weeks, he’s had an opportunity to put a game winning drive together, and has come up short both times.
UPDATE: Update: #Chargers Justin Herbert had FOUR straight possessions to win this game in the 4th quarter/OT with a TD:— Dan W. (@DanWSports) September 17, 2023
Possession 1: Punt
Possession 2: Punt
Possession 3: FG
Possession 4 (OT): Punt
At some point, Herbert’s greatness needs to transcend the situation and elevate this roster to some keystone wins. If a coaching hire needs to happen, the search needs to revolve around finding a coach that will maximize Herbert’s development.