Chargers know first-quarter deficits aren’t sustainable

Khalil Mack has been around the game long enough to know the Chargers are going about it all wrong. Same goes for Justin Herbert, who doesn’t have quite as much experience. Sebastian Joseph-Day said the status quo simply won’t cut it Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

The Chargers have trailed by double digits in the first quarter in each of their past four games. Somehow, some way, they’ve managed to rally to win three of the four, including last Sunday’s 20-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons, when they trailed 10-0 after the first two possessions.

In Week 7, the Chargers trailed the Seattle Seahawks 17-0 and lost 37-23.

In Week 6, they trailed the Denver Broncos 10-0 and won 19-16 in overtime.

In Week 5, they trailed the Cleveland Browns 14-3 and won 30-28.

It’s not a sustainable formula for success, according to Mack, a veteran edge rusher now in his ninth season in the NFL, a former defensive player of the year while with the Raiders earlier in his stellar career.

“Staley coaches us up and tells us right before the game what to expect,” Mack said, referring to Chargers coach Brandon Staley. “He kind of surprises these guys. Over the course of this week, it’s kind of been a thing where guys are not surprised as much (because) the communication is there. It’s going to feel different this week. It’s going to be simple, a lot of simple football being played.”

It’s got to change on the other side of the ball, too, said Herbert, a strong-armed and stronger-willed quarterback who continues to build an impressive résumé in only his third professional season.

“Ideally, it’s not an ideal situation,” Herbert said. “You want to be up early. It’s kind of where we’ve found ourselves (trailing early recently), so we have to continue to execute. We have to do better on offense of getting the first, first down, of just getting the ball moving and converting on third downs.”

Leading is imperative, according to Joseph-Day, a Super Bowl champion last season with the Rams

“Fox and I both tried to tell at least our room how fast and physical it’s going to be,” Joseph-Day said, referring to fellow defensive lineman Morgan Fox. “It’s going to be a fast and physical game. It’s going to be fast. You can’t be caught with your cleats not in the ground. They’ll punch you in the mouth.”

Joseph-Day and Fox are former Rams teammates, having joined the Chargers during this past offseason, so they know what to expect from the 49ers, their former NFC West rivals. They know it’s better to hit than to get hit. They know it’s better to lead than to follow. Falling behind isn’t an option.

Actually, everyone in the Chargers’ organization seemed to recognize this past week the need to put an end to the early deficits. No question, the Chargers have shown an ability to rally, make adjustments mid-game and perform in the clutch, when it matters most and the game is on the line.

But that’s a hard way to win consistently, the Chargers’ recent 3-1 record notwithstanding.

Related Articles

Los Angeles Chargers |

Chargers at San Francisco 49ers: Who has the edge?

Los Angeles Chargers |

Why did the Chargers cut ties with defensive lineman Jerry Tillery?

Los Angeles Chargers |

Chargers’ depth put to the test with slew of injuries

Los Angeles Chargers |

Chargers QB Justin Herbert feeling better with each passing week

Los Angeles Chargers |

Chargers review: Has there actually been a shift in the culture this season?

“Play better and call better plays,” Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said when asked how they might get off to a better start than they had while going three-and-out on their first two series against the Falcons, for instance. “I don’t know if there is a magic formula. You just have to get off the bus ready to go.

“I’m not saying that they haven’t been ready. It may just be random. It’s hard to put a finger on it and say, ‘This is why it has happened.’ The better you play early, the less that will happen (trailing early). I think some of it is mindset, the adjustments in practice. Is it an actual physical thing that is going to happen? We’re just reinforcing that idea of like, ‘Hey, let’s go. It’s time to go and let’s be ready to play.’”

CHARGERS (5-3) at 49ERS (4-4)

When: 5:20 p.m. Sunday

Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara

TV/Radio: Ch. 4/98.7 FM; 105.5 FM/94.3 FM (Spanish)

Share the Post:

Related Posts