After his worst game of the season, Justin Herbert now faces the defense that led to his poorest game of last season.
New England visits SoFi Stadium on Sunday to try to stop Herbert and the Chargers trying to bounce back from a 34-6 loss in Baltimore on October 17.
“When you have a day like that, you don’t think anybody really did anything important,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said. Later, he added, “Those days happen sometimes in the NFL.”
Effectively. One of those days also happened to the Chargers in December 2020, when they fell to the Patriots 45-0 at home.
That remains the only game in which Herbert did not complete 50% of his passes. He finished 26 of 53. He also had the worst quarterback grade of his career, 43.7, and had two interceptions, something that has only happened to him twice.
New England has had some changes on defense, but the Patriots still have Bill Belichick, whose shadow shrouds the franchise after 22 seasons and six Super Bowl victories.
“They have been good regularly,” Lombardi said. “They have always been smart. They do not beat themselves. They are very specific to each team they play for. They have a structure and a philosophy. But there are many nuances in how each defense plays. “
During the loss to the Ravens, Herbert seemed unusually unsure of himself while the Chargers found no consistency. He and his receivers appeared to be out of sync on several occasions.
Later, the quarterback admitted that the Baltimore defense did some things the Chargers hadn’t seen in their preparations. He regretted the inability to adjust properly during the match.
“Defenses are smart,” Lombardi noted. “Sometimes they do unexpected things that you haven’t seen. … As a coach, you always say, ‘Well, we didn’t give them that look [en los entrenamientos]’. So part of that is our fault. “
Herbert particularly struggled with some of the pressure from the Ravens. He was taken out twice and officially beaten two other times. One of the sacks, Lombardi said, was the result of a failed blocking assignment.
But he also explained that the Chargers’ game planning and play preparation probably weren’t good enough.
“Everybody had their hand in it,” he noted. “You don’t expect it to be a trend. But we have to work hard to make sure it isn’t. “
Part of Herbert’s lack of production against Baltimore, Lombardi explained, was because he made decisions to avoid disaster. Rather than risk calamity, Herbert remained conservative.
The Chargers finished with just one turnover, but they also had just two plays that exceeded 18 yards.
“I really trust his instincts,” Lombardi said of Herbert. “He knows when to run away, when to throw the ball out, when to protect it. … [No hubo] nothing in which I can criticize him ”.
Now, Herbert and the Chargers have to try to rally against a defense that ranks sixth in the league, giving up 20 points a game. The stat includes two wins over the New York Jets in which the Patriots gave up a combined 19 points.
During his team’s bye week, coach Brandon Staley indicated that he identified the need for the offense to be more productive on the first and second down.
The Chargers are seventh in the league in third-down conversions, at 45%. But Staley mentioned that they are simply finding too many third downs to keep up the offensive rhythm.
“We’re throwing the ball a lot on the first down,” he said. “So it’s not a lack of aggressiveness. It’s just a runlevel. … It’s maximizing your players and then really trying to get ahead of the defense. “
“I think the fact that we throw the ball at a high level is always a big factor for success on the first and second down. And then we have to be able to run the ball effectively and make sure we have good solutions in that aspect of the game. “
All of that will be put to the test again on Sunday, when Herbert tries to bounce back from a dull game and against an opponent who has already made him look diminished once.
The Chargers added Austin Ekeler to their injury report Thursday, saying the running back did not practice due to a hip problem. Under Staley, the Chargers have been particularly wary of injuries. When there has been some uncertainty, they have often chosen to retain the players. So it’s unclear if Ekeler’s injury is a concern for Sunday. … Linebacker Drue Tranquill (who has chest muscle discomfort) was a limited participant.
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After the loss to the Ravens, what could be worse for the Chargers? The Patriots are a reminder