The bye week is now over. It is time for the Chargers to get back to work. They have a lot to do sitting at the bottom of the AFC West with a 1-4 record. It is not the end of the world.
They could turn it around similar to 2017 when they started 0-4 and ended the season 9-7. Things are going to have to change if they are to make such a run.
Here are three things they must do.
- The defense must get healthy.
The Chargers defense has been subpar at best in the last few weeks. They allowed Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans to put up over 400 yards of offense. Those are three high powered offenses, but they had limited their offenses in the first half. All three teams did their damage in the second half. The defense is hurting right now because of the injuries to defensive end Melvin Ingram, defensive tackle Justin Jones, and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. The defense needs all three players back. It seems like Harris will continue to get healthy, but for right now the team could get Ingram and Jones back this week. That would be a huge boost because that means defensive end Jerry Tillery could go back to making an impact on a limited snap count. It also means defensive end Joey Bosa gets his pass-rushing partner in crime back in Ingram. It also means the third-down pass rush will be Bosa, Ingram, and Uchenna Nwosu, which was working well before Ingram’s knee injury.
2. The second half defense must improve.
The second half defense has indeed been abysmal this season. Since Kansas City, the Bolts have given up 61 points in the second half. Most importantly, they gave up 14 to the Chiefs, 24 to the Bucs, and 20 to the Saints. They can’t continue this if they are going to turn the season around. They must be more disciplined. It will help to get Jones and Ingram back to get pressure on the quarterback. The secondary has been very inconsistent as of late. They could use the boost from getting Harris back, but he might still be a week or two from returning. When he does come back, the defense will welcome him back with open arms. Head coach Anthony Lynn has said no matter if the defense has struggled, he has faith in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, and he knows they will turn it around.
3. It is time to let QB Justin Herbert loose on the NFL.
The Chargers have slowly been letting rookie quarterback Justin Herbert gain more and more confidence. They have been allowing him to learn more of the playbook as the weeks have gone by, and it seems like he is picking it up. It is time to let him play. The team has to stop playing conservative if they are to start winning games. Trust your quarterback to make plays to win the game. In the Bucs and Saints matchup, Herbert showed a lot of grit and even took people by surprise the way he played. Against the Bucs, he showed he could stand in the face of a pass rush, take the hit, and still make big-time plays. In New Orleans, he showed that being tied late in a game against one of the best all-time isn’t too big for him, leading the offense down the field for a field goal try to win the game. Playing conservative doesn’t win football games. If the team wants to start winning, they must take a page out of Patriots coach Bill Belichick and call the unexpected. Be different.