Chargers Couldn’t Get out of Their Own Way Against Cowboys

Too many mistakes cost the Bolts.
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The Dallas Cowboys came into SoFi Stadium with a good plan on both sides of the football. They wanted to run the football and disrupt the opposing offense. It would seem like without DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, it might be challenging.

It wasn't.

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn decided to move rookie linebacker Micah Parsons to defensive end and rush the passer. He didn't have him rush through the side of the player drafted after Parsons in left tackle Rashawn Slater. He attacked right tackle Storm Norton.

Norton is now the starting right tackle because Bryan Bulaga was placed on IR after playing in the first half of the Washington game.

"He competed in the game. I felt like there were sometimes out there where he's going against Micah Parsons, who is a good player," said Staley. "He had some that I felt like he can learn from for sure, but I felt like he gave us a chance in the game."

The defensive end had a different recollection.

"A lot of it was natural," said Micah Parsons. "Some people had a long day out there."

It felt like at numerous points of the game, Herbert had instant pressure as he hiked the ball. According to Next Gen Stats, Herbert dropped back 45 times, and out of those, he was pressured on 14 dropbacks. Parsons had a sack.

"I thought the offensive line did a good job," said Herbert. "We were kind of expecting Micah Parsons to play a little bit at the end, and that's what he did, and I thought the offensive line battle really well. We got the ball out quickly. Had a couple sacks, but we can always be better."

At times, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi tried to send help, but it backfired like on the final drive, the Chargers had a wide-open Donald Parham touchdown that was called back because tight end Jared Cook held on the play.

Mistakes cost the team.

The Chargers defensive line also couldn't stop the run. Last week against Tampa, there were questions about whether Ezekiel Elliott would ever be the same running back. On Sunday, he answered them, running for 71 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown.

Backup running back Tony Pollard also had a big day rushing for 109 yards on 13 carries and adding a touchdown run.

The Cowboys were running at will.

"We were just a little bit off in the first level, which caused our second level to be a little bit off," said Staley. "There were a couple of slants that we went the wrong way, which forced a big opening in the middle. But overall, we have to play better first and second level. We have to play more physical at the point of attack. So the ball doesn't get to the second level, as often as it did."

They averaged 6.38 yards a carry on Sunday. At times, it felt weird to see Dallas trying to throw the football why not just continue to run the football.

"We were in a lot of good run defenses from a personnel standpoint and a structure standpoint," Staley said. "But we were just a little bit off, a little bit off with our front mechanics, a little bit off with our run fits. We gave up far too many today."

The one bright spot of the Chargers was the continued play of receiver Mike Williams. He had eight catches for 82 yards and one touchdown last week, and this week it was seven catches for 91 yards and one touchdown. The grand total 15 catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns.

"Mike Williams has really stepped up, and he's one of those guys that you really trust out there, and he knows what he's doing," said Herbert. "He's just so athletic and able to make so many great plays and one of those guys who really trust me he's out there."

Lombardi said he wanted to give Williams more chances, and it has paid off.

"It's probably just game opportunities," said Williams. "That's the main thing in the previous two years it was just down the field down the field. But now, getting the ball in my hands trying to make plays with the team."

The Chargers have to clean up their mistakes because they face the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday, and the way this division is shaping out a 1-2 start might be detrimental at the end of the season.