Brandon Staley and the Los Angeles Chargers coaching staff go into the bye week with many things to assess.
One of their biggest concerns should be not giving teams chances to come back.
The Bolts' 24-17 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday marked the third straight week they had a double-digit lead at one point, but had the game eventually go down to the wire.
After squandering a two-touchdown lead and losing in overtime at Tennessee in Week 2, the Chargers have won their past two.
One-score games though have become the norm with the Chargers. Since Staley became coach in 2021, they lead the league with 26 and have gone 14-12.
“All of these games in the NFL are close. This isn’t college football where Georgia is playing UAB or Austin Peay," Staley said on Monday. “I don’t know why it’s such a surprise that all of these games are close. That’s just the way the NFL is. You have to be ready to play them as they come. When it gets tight, you have to execute down the stretch, which is what we did.”
The difference though in the past two games is that the defense has come up with the big play when it was needed.
Last week at Minnesota, Kenneth Murray got an interception at the goal line to preserve a 28-24 victory.
On Sunday, Asante Samuel got the game-saving interception, which allowed the Chargers to run out the clock.
If the Chargers have any hopes of getting to the postseason for the second straight season, they will need to finally find a way to put together a solid second half.
During Staley's tenure, they have outscored teams by 122 points, the fifth-highest margin in the league.
After halftime, they have been outscored by 94 points, which is 28th in scoring differential.
Staley said focusing on improvements in executing during the third quarter and beginning of the fourth will be a priority moving forward.
Justin Herbert and the offense didn't score any second-half points and went three-and-out on two of their first four drives after halftime.
But Herbert connected with Joshua Palmer for a 51-yard completion late in the game despite fracturing the middle finger on his left non-throwing hand after throwing an interception in the third quarter.
Generating yards after contact in the running game. The Chargers rushed for 133 yards after contact against the Raiders. They are eighth in the league with 385 yards post contact after being fifth worst in the league in that category last season.
The Chargers, Eagles and 49ers are the only teams this season with multiple games of more than 130 yards after contact.
Joshua Kelley had 55 of his 65 yards against the Raiders after contact.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The offense executing on fourth down late in the game. For the second straight week, Staley went for it on fourth-and-1 in his own territory in the fourth quarter and came up short.
This time it was on an attempted sneak by Herbert, who was 24 of 27 on third and fourth down rushes of 1 yard.
According to the NFL's Next Gen Stats decision guide, going for it was the optimal decision by 4.7%
LB Khalil Mack. After not having a sack in the first three games, Mack set a franchise record with six and is tied with Jacksonville's Josh Allen and Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt for the league lead.
CB JC Jackson. After being inactive last week, Jackson did not play a snap against the Raiders. The move continues a stunning two weeks where Jackson, who signed a five-year, $82 million contract last year, has gone from being a starter to not playing.
Herbert's status was the only one updated on Monday. TE Donald Parham suffered a wrist injury during the second quarter, but there were no updates on his condition. RB Austin Ekeler (ankle), S Derwin James (hamstring), S Alohi Gilman (heel) and LB Joey Bosa (hamstring/foot) were inactive for Sunday's game with no updates expected until next week.
233 — Consecutive attempts by Herbert going back to last season before he was picked off by Las Vegas' Trevon Moehrig late in the third quarter. It was the longest streak in franchise history, surpassing the 194 by Drew Brees in 2004.
This is the first time since 2009 the Chargers have had their bye week after four games. They will have the week off before reporting back on Oct. 10 to begin preparations for their Oct. 16 Monday night game against the Dallas Cowboys.
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