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As Injuries Continue to Mount, Chargers Overmatched by Jaguars in 38-10 Loss

The Chargers lost 38-10 to the Jaguars in Week 3, moving to a 1-2 record.

INGLEWOOD – It was a demoralizing loss for the Chargers Sunday afternoon at SoFi Stadium as injuries continued to mount and the team had no answers for slowing down the Jaguars' operation on both sides of the ball.

In blowout fashion, the Jaguars routed the Chargers 38-10 as Jacksonville continued to pour it on well into the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Justin Herbert arrived to the stadium this morning as a game-time decision as he deals with a fractured rib cartilage – an injury he suffered in last week's game. 

After going through pre-game warmups, Herbert and the medical team decided his condition was sufficient enough to suit up and play. He finished the game completing 25-of-45 passes for 297 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

But in a rather questionable move by the team, trailing by four possessions with just under five minutes remaining, they allowed the injury-riddled Herbert to finish out the game.

The Chargers were already forced with trotting out Will Clapp at center and Storm Norton at left tackle after Corey Linsley was inactive with a knee injury and Rashawn Slater exited the game in the third quarter with a bicep injury. Yet their franchise quarterback, who's already dealing with a significant injury of his own, remained out there in what could’ve risked further damage while the game was already put on ice.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley said Herbert was adamant about finishing the game with his teammates despite the end result not being in reach to overcome Jacksonville's sizable lead.

“He wanted to be out there with his teammates," Staley said of Herbert. "He felt good and he wanted to finish the game. He wanted to give our group some energy. We were going to protect him there at the end with really sound protection as best we could, but it was more about him wanting to finish with his guys.”

Herbert followed suit, saying he didn't want to quit on his guys.

"It was, obviously, a tough day for us, but I did not want to go out," Herbert said. "I felt like we were getting the ball out quickly. I did not want to quit on my team.”

There's no disputing Herbert is as tough as it gets. He showed that in Week 2 against the Chiefs and continued to do so by playing Sunday against the Jaguars – 10 days after receiving the initial blow to his midsection. But first and foremost, his longterm health should outweigh completing a game that was already decided late in the fourth quarter.

Staley said that he and Herbert remained in communication throughout the game with his injury in mind, keeping his longterm health as the priority. However, his actions are contradicting by the way Herbert was allowed to close out the lopsided loss.

“What wins out, in the end, is always the long term, always," Staley said. "There was just that point where he wanted to make sure that he finished with his teammates, until you’ve been in that position, it’s hard to explain, but it was important for us to do it. We were aligned the whole way. Moving forward, we’re going to keep Justin at the front of all the decisions that we make.”

Staley later added that Herbert's rib injury is something he'll be dealing with for weeks on end. It will be an element they're faced to manage for some time.

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"This injury is going to be there for a while," Staley said. "If you guys know the injury, it’s not like it’s going to feel better next week or the week after that. This thing is going to be present for a while. He felt good today. We’re going to continue to manage it the best we can.”

Herbert said definitely after the game that he feels like he'll be able to manage his fractured rib cartilage moving ahead, insinuating that he doesn't think he'll have to miss games.

The Chargers also find themselves dealing with a bulk of other injuries. Keenan Allen (hamstring), J.C. Jackson (ankle) and Corey Linsley (knee) were all inactive with injuries. Meanwhile, Joey Bosa (groin) and Rashawn Slater (bicep) each exited the game with injuries, and Staley shared postgame that Jalen Guyton suffered a knee injury. Slater left the locker room with his left arm in a sling.

Among other things that went wrong for the Chargers, they still haven't found their rhythm of running the ball this season. That was the case against the Jaguars' defensive front, who held the Chargers to 26 rushing yards across 12 attempts.

Austin Ekeler, last year's touchdown leader, finds himself in one of the most inefficient stretches he's had since becoming a starter in the NFL. He saw just four handoffs for five yards in Week 3.

“We just haven’t established any rhythm offensively. Just haven’t blocked at the point of attack," Staley said of the lack of run production. "Because of that, you’re not going to see the production from the skill players.”

Defensively, the Chargers allowed their highest point total of the three games they've played this season. The Jaguars' found the end zone four times and tacked on three field goals, ending each of their final seven drives with points.

For a defense that showed encouraging signs the first two weeks in how they were able to slow down their opposition, Week 3 produced vastly different results.

When asked what Staley's message was to the team following the loss, linebacker Drue Tranquill said the discussions were player led, with Sebastian Joseph-Day leading the charge.

"We gotta play better, hold ourselves accountable," Tranquill said in relaying the speech that Joseph-Day delivered to the team. "That's not our standard of play. We all feel it. As a competitor it stinks, but we're thankful for the opportunity that this is game three of a 17-game season. We have a lot more games to play and we're going to be better coming down the stretch."

Now holding a record of 1-2, the Chargers will hit the road in Week 4 to face the Texans at NRG Stadium on Oct. 2.

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Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.