Chargers lose ground in AFC West, keep trying to find consistency and spark at home

The Rams made noise in the NFL last week by signing free receiver Odell Beckham Jr. not long after acquiring Al linebacker eight times Pro Bowl Von Miller. The only sound the Chargers made was an ugly, ominous thud in a 27-20 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

The Rams, hoping to play in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in February and not just play host, they go for it all. The Chargers, who also have their SoFi home, are going the other way after losing three of four games after their impressive 4-1 start.

The initial promise of the Chargers has faded. As soon as they solve one problem, another appears that drags them down and prevents them from consistently playing as the team they insist they can become.

“We are struggling to find that rhythm,” said coach Brandon Staley. “We don’t have it yet, and I think our record reflects that in all three phases. We try to find the rhythm. And our guys are playing well, but our execution has to improve ”.

His offense was never in sync Sunday after quarterback Justin Herbert led a pass from touchdown of 75 yards to open the third quarter and give the Chargers a 17-13 lead. His running defense was better than earlier this season, but his passing defense took a break and allowed Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​to pass for 294 yards and two. touchdowns. The defense failed to get Minnesota off the field after the Chargers cut the Vikings’ lead to 27-20 on a 24-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins with 4 minutes 36 seconds in the fourth quarter.

Time of possession – 36:15 for Minnesota and 11:45 for the Chargers – was uneven.

“And that’s how it felt,” Staley said. “We lost possession time because of the way we played offense, not the way we played defense.”

That way they can’t win and they know it.

“This is not how we want to play,” defensive lineman Linval Joseph said. “We just have to find a way to keep the ball, control it, get them to lose it, get three and out, put the ball back on our offense, score again and really hit the gas. We haven’t done it yet.

“Sooner or later it will happen, and when it happens, watch out.”

Early would be the ideal. They fell from first place in the AFC West – the Kansas City Chiefs seized first place with their win over Las Vegas – and the confidence they hoped would blossom after their 27-24 win in Philadelphia was trampled by their loss to Minnesota, which dropped his home record to 2-3.

That’s unacceptable, even though – as usual – the visiting fans outnumbered the Chargers’ loyalists.

“It has more to do with the teams we play against,” Staley said, referring to a home schedule that featured Dallas, Las Vegas, Cleveland and New England before Minnesota (4-5). “We have to execute better. The opposing public has no factor in our success. It’s more about the Chargers and our level of execution. “

Rather his lack of execution, at least consistently.

Injuries were a factor for both teams on Sunday, with the Vikings losing several players who are on the reserve / COVID-19 list and four defensive starters injured. But that’s life in the NFL.

“It’s the mindset,” Joseph said. “And once we get everyone on the same page, we will play the game that we have to play, and that is what is happening now.” All over the league. Everybody has injured players ”.

Vikings receiver Adam Thielen (19) i

Vikings receiver Adam Thielen (19) is tackled by Chargers cornerback Chris Harris.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Herbert, whose 195 passing yards equaled a season low in an embarrassing loss at Baltimore on Oct. 17, has a theory about the Chargers’ lack of continuity on offense.

“It’s the first year of a new offense with everyone together, people from different teams, and year 1 is obviously difficult. There is no continuity with last year, so you have to learn a completely new offense, with a lot of new players, and I feel like we’ve done a good job coming together, “he said.

“Obviously there are going to be growing pains, but I think the guys show up and do their best every day and we are going to keep improving, we are going to continue to emphasize that. So I think we are right where we need to be. “

It feels like the Chargers have reached a turning point in their season. Next Sunday, in primetime, they host the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are 4-0-1 after a 1-3 start. Joseph said he expects this week’s practice to focus on putting every phase of the game on consistently, within every game and week to week.

They have no choice but to get on their feet, find an efficient and effective rhythm, and an explosive offense if they want to go back to being the team that looked so promising in the first five weeks.

“I just know that when things get going, once everything lines up properly, we are going to be a tough team to beat,” Joseph said. “When we start playing full games, that’s when people are going to fully respect us.”

Respect is earned, not given. The first thing is constancy.
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Chargers lose ground in AFC West, keep trying to find consistency and spark at home