Chargers go wide right in home opener

Big day for quarterback Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates don't add up to victory for Chargers in first game at StubHub Center

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers steps back to pass on the first day of trianing camp. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

CARSON, CA-Wide right. Those are not the words that any football coach wants to hear at the end of a ballgame. But that was the call that Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn got when placekicker Younghoe Koo missed a 44-yard field goal that would have clinched the team’s first win of the season.

Koo missed two field goals in the Chargers’ 19-17 home loss to the Miami Dolphins. He had a chance to boot the Denver Broncos to the curb the previous week against the Denver Broncos when he lined up to deliver on a potential game-winning field goal. That didn’t happen. The Broncos blocked Koo’s field goal attempt, circumventing the Chargers’ comeback from coming into fruition.

Sunday’s flub by Koo only adds to more pressure being dropped on the young kicker. The grumblings about replacing Koo are beginning to pile up. That’s not good. Placekickers in the NFL are as replaceable as a jar full of jelly beans. Clearly not happy wit the end results from the last two games, Lynn showed restraint on offering his assessment about Koo’s miscues.

Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn speaking to the media after the Miami Dolphins defeated his team at StubHub Center by the score of 19-17. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

“He didn’t kick well today. He missed two field goals,” Lynn said at a postgame press conference. “Last week it wasn’t his issue. I thought he kicked fine last week even though he got a kick blocked, but he didn’t kick well today so we’ll see. We’ll see how he responds.”

When asked about the possibility of looking for a new placekicker, Lynn went the diplomatic route.

“Well, we’re always looking to improve in that area,” Lynn said. “Always.”

For his part, Koo said he has to move on.

“Do I wish I made the two field goals today? Yeah, sure,” Koo said. “Definitely, but I can’t do anything about (that) now. I have to move on to next week.”

Koo isn’t the only player being carefully evaluated on a game-by-game basis. It wouldn’t be a far reach to conclude that the whole team is being put on notice after the Chargers suffered their second straight defeat in as many games. The preliminaries of working the kinks out  during training camp is in the past. Finishing games with a “W” is at the top of the team’s priority list now.

A balanced offensive attack would go a long way in assisting in this area. While quarterback Philip Rivers was playing lights out with his 31 of 39 passing completion rate for 331 yards against the Dolphins, the Chargers’ run game got bogged down, getting nowhere close to 100 yards on the ground. Melvin Gordon’s 13 yards on nine rushing attempts is not the answer. Collectively, Gordon and Branden Oliver (31 yards)  totaled just 44 yards rushing or the game.

“We just have to find a way to make it happen,” Gordon said. “We just have to make more plays. It shouldn’t come down to this. It shouldn’t come to a situation where we are saying, ‘we should be up.’ We had some possessions where we got down there and we should have scored on offense. That would have put us in a better situation. Everyone has to be accountable and get [to] attacking. That’s just what we have to do.”

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers completed 31 of 39 passes against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. The Dolphins defeated the Chargers, 19-17. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

While the Chargers have been close enough the last two weeks to be in position to win games, they’ve come up short. But it’s not something the Chargers can afford to dwell on, pass-rushing specialist Joey Bosa said after the game.

“This loss is now,” Bosa said. “It’s over now. It’s out of my head now. I’m focused on next week now and I think everyone else here is too. Sulk tonight, but get over it. We have to get back to work.”

The Chargers first home game of the Lynn era didn’t quite muster up to the end result that the team’s first year head coach anticipated. But like their road game against the Broncos, the Chargers were in position to win both games. Peak efficiency on both sides of the ball will eventually get the Chargers over the win hump. Rivers said he liked the offensive unit’s productivity against the Dolphins.

“I thought it was pretty good,” Rivers said. “We moved the ball well. The name of the game was scoring, and we didn’t score enough points. We talk about it all the time and it sounds silly, but yeah, score more points than the other team and we haven’t done that. We moved the ball well, we didn’t turn it over. We’ve just got to finish some of those drives with touchdowns.”

The Chargers had a couple of opportunities to put more points on the board, but couldn’t cash their chips in.

“We had a chance there—I’m not sure with exactly how much time [was] left—but we converted the third down,” River said. “They called a holding [penalty] right there. We hit Tyrell [Williams], and we were going to be down there at about the 30, up four still at that point with a chance to really make it a two-score game, and then we got really backed up and didn’t get the third down conversion. That was a big drive. Then obviously, shoot, we had two chances at the end. One to sustain [a] drive and end it, and the other one to win it in two-minute [drill], and we just didn’t finish it all the way.”

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1343 Articles
Dennis is a news and sports photojournalist. Dennis has covered and written on issues such as civil rights, education, politics, and social justice. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Daily Breeze, Daily Press, Los Angeles Wave, Los Angeles Sentinel, and other media outlets. Dennis is currently the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and NCAA. Dennis is an alum and graduate of Howard University.