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Studs and duds from Chargers’ 27-24 loss to Titans

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By: Alex Insdorf

The Chargers failed to get back on track in Tennessee against the Titans as they dropped a 27-24 heartbreaker in OT.

There were some solid individual performances to highlight, but the day’s conversation was dominated by some team inefficiencies on offense and defense.

Let’s start with the positive:

Stud: EDGE Joey Bosa

Joey Bosa needed a bounce-back game after the pass rush struggled against Miami. He got two critical sacks for the Chargers in big moments. Particularly, he looked even better rushing next to rookie Tuli Tuipulotu. That was a nice new wrinkle from Brandon Staley.

Bosa was questionable entering this game after he hurt his hamstring in last week’s contest. That’s something the Chargers will have to manage going forward.

It’s worth pointing out it was an optimal matchup for Bosa, given the state of the Titans’ offensive line. Still, the execution of the defensive line on the designed looks he got was critically important for a pass rush that looked anemic previously. Hopefully, it materializes into continued momentum for the star pass rusher when he goes against the banged-up Minnesota offensive line next week.

Dud: Third down offense

It wasn’t a bad day for Kellen Moore’s offense. But the one area where they struggled was third down offense. 2 for 14 is probably an outlier performance, but it’s worth talking about. A team conversion percentage of 14% is worse than any individual Chargers game last season.

No play better demonstrates some of the dysfunction and communication than the Chargers’ final 3rd down in overtime. The offense was not ready for the play, with several players out of position, and yet the ball was snapped. The result? A ball from Justin Herbert that was essentially a throwaway out of bounds, 20 yards past Josh Palmer.

Another 3rd down resulted in Herbert checking out of a play to instead hand it off to Elijah Dotson with four yards to gain. Simply put, it was a tough day on third when otherwise they were efficient on the other downs. Considering the shootout potential with the Vikings, it has to look cleaner next week,

Stud: WR Keenan Allen

After Keenan Allen returned from injury last season, he finished the year with 80+ yards in four of his final six games. So far, he’s on the same torrid pace in 2023. Allen is up to 187 yards receiving and two touchdowns on the season. From a route-running perspective, 2.64 yards per route run was his best single-game performance since he played the Colts last year.

His connection with Herbert on his first touchdown was a fantastic play from them both. Herbert staying on his feet and having the arm talent plus faith in Allen to reel it in with it was a sight to see.

Assuming Allen stays healthy, he’s on track for a career year if his current level holds.

Dud: Brandon Staley’s secondary

The story of the day for me is the state of Staley’s secondary. The Chargers yet again allowed more explosive plays off of blown coverage assignments. Chris Moore managed to blow past Michael Davis with no safety help over the top. Treylon Burks did the same against Asante Samuel Jr. just a few plays later.

Allowing Ryan Tannehill to take the top off your defense cannot happen. The Chargers gave freebies to a quarterback who was struggling entering this game. They allowed him to gain more confidence and get into a rhythm as the game went on.

After the game, Staley said he wants the secondary corners on the outside to compete for playing time. It would be putting it nicely to say that this secondary is in flux with personnel entering Week 3. It is a group of underperforming corners with zero synergy.

While a lot will fall on the shoulders of the corners themselves, Staley cannot be absolved of blame here. As he discusses finding a “rhythm” in the secondary, he keeps benching J.C. Jackson and Davis mid-game for underperforming. Something tells me that corners who sit for quarters at a time on the bench will not find instant chemistry easily.

It gets worse: they play Justin Jefferson next week. The cornerback play and communication have to improve, or this team is in deep trouble.

Stud: LB Kenneth Murray

Staley caused an uproar on social media when he announced that Kenneth Murray would play the green dot role last week instead of the injured Eric Kendricks. Most people, myself included, thought the move wouldn’t work.

But Murray had a far improved game from last week, and it was a complete effort. The former Oklahoma product had a sack, two pressures, and six tackles for the day. He allowed one completion on the day for nine yards.

Murray has had good games in the past. The 2022 Niners game, for example, was great, but his play regressed mainly in the following weeks. Hopefully, Murray’s intensity and decisiveness in this game will carry over to next week.

Dud: Lack of involvement of Quentin Johnston

The Chargers invested a first-round pick in star TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston in April. It certainly hasn’t felt that way in their first two games.

Johnston had just ten snaps in his second game of NFL action. Fourth-round selection Derius Davis had 11.

From the Chargers’ standpoint, it’s understandable that they have a loaded receiver room. Yet, at the same time, it’s on the coaching staff to get Johnston involved. Through two weeks, there have been jet sweeps and end-around opportunities given to Gerald Everett, Derius Davis, and Mike Williams. The Chargers haven’t even given Johnston a quality screen look to take advantage of his YAC potential.

There’s having faith in your top rostered receivers and there’s neglecting a freak talent that the organization spent a significant draft pick on. Moore has to emphasize getting Johnston involved.

Originally posted on Chargers Wire

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