Chargers come up short in the Battle for LA

LOS ANGELES, CA-There were several things the Los Angeles Chargers needed to do coming out of their halftime deficit against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. One was to get up in Jared Goff’s face and try to disrupt the young quarterback’s timing with his fleet of wide receivers. Getting Goff to impersonate the happy feet dance occasionally may have shifted the outcome of the Battle for LA matchup.

The other item pertinent to the Chargers was for their offensive unit to spend more time of the football field rather than act as bystanders on the sidelines watching the Rams go on a scoring parade with 21 first-half points. Getting Philip Rivers to put the ball into the hands of wide receiver Mike Williams was also a necessity.

These ambitions did not bear fruit for the Chargers in their 35-23 defeat to the Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. As a result, the Chargers (1-2) suffered their second loss of the young season. Chargers safety Derwin James, who had an interception in the game, pinned his team’s defeat to one area.

Rams and Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams hauls in a 42-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers over several Los Angeles Rams defenders on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. Photo by George Laase

“It was on us on defense,” James said. “We couldn’t get a stop this game. I think we made them punt one time. Offense put up enough points. This one is on the defense.”

The numbers tell the story. The Rams attempted just one punt during the contest and totaled 521 yards in offense. Goff and Co. were able to do what they wanted and when they wanted because they had control of the game clock most of the time. The Rams had the football in their possession for just a little over 34 minutes. On the other hand, Rivers and the Chargers only had the ball for 25 minutes.

On their way to a 14-6 first quarter lead, the Rams held the ball for 11 minutes and 41 seconds.

Rams and Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers defensive back Casey Hayward (26) defends this pass against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. Photo by George Laase

The Chargers were lucky to have the ball for just three minutes in the opening period, thus rendering Rivers and his offensive crew into sun-soaked spectators. Of the first 30 minutes of game action, the Chargers got their hands on the ball for a grand total of just over 10 minutes. The Rams had built up a 21-6 advantage by that point.

“This should be real short,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said after the game. “We didn’t play good enough to win today. You can’t give a team like that nothing. That offense was very good. We couldn’t get off the field. We didn’t put enough pressure on the quarterback. I think in the first half he (QB Jared Goff) was completing about 90 percent of his passes, and we get a punt blocked. We’ve got some things to correct. It’s my responsibility and believe me, I’m going to make those corrections.”

Without Joey Bosa manning his typical defensive end position, the Chargers pass rush is perhaps the biggest concern. The Chargers did manage to come up with a couple of turnovers, but without a sustained pass rush to make Goff’s life in the pocket a little bit miserable, it was a moot point. Goff passed for 354 yards and three touchdowns against the Chargers.

“We have to figure out a way to get pressure on the quarterback,” said Lynn. “That’s what’s missing right now.”

Lynn doesn’t have worry about tweaking his offense too much. When the Chargers offensive unit was on the field (356 total yards), they were able to move the ball pretty easily against a touted Rams defense. Williams had a lot to do with that. From training camp through the preseason and now in the regular season, Williams is rising to level of play that made him the team’s first-round draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Against the Rams, Williams hauled in a 42-yard scoring pass from Rivers in the first quarter. He also caught a 20-yard touchdown pass later in the game, fighting his way through a Rams defender to make it to paydirt.

“He’s come along,” Rivers said. “He’s going to continue to do this. Gosh, he played big and strong. Made some big plays, a handful of big plays. Obviously, the touchdowns and he’s only going to continue to be more and more of a factor for us.”

Williams said he has to come ready to play and compete on every down, so when his number is called, he can stand and deliver.

“I expect the ball to come me whenever it’s a pass play,” Williams said. “I run every route like I’m getting the ball. Had an opportunity to go make a play, went up and made it. It was a play that was designed for me. It was designed for me to go up and make a play.”

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