After a head-scratching 38-10 humiliation in Week 3 at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Los Angeles Chargers were looking wobbly with a 1-2 record.
But they got back on track on Sunday by defeating the struggling Houston Texans, 34-24.
Los Angeles’ offense looked strong, as Justin Herbert had his usual strong game despite fractured rib cartilage, Austin Ekeler had a total of 109 yards and three touchdowns from scrimmage and wide receiver Mike Williams had 120 yards.
However, there is still reason for concern, as the Chargers’ defense had some troubles against a Houston offense that is rather weak.
If they don’t rectify their defensive deficiencies soon, they could end up with additional losses in games they should’ve won, which could end up costing them a playoff spot.
The Chargers Gave Up Too Many Big Plays
Last season, when Los Angeles missed the playoffs, its defense was perhaps the biggest culprit.
It finished 23rd in total yards allowed and 29th in points allowed, and its run defense was particularly problematic.
They also bolstered a secondary that needed improvement by bringing in J.C. Jackson, a young and rising cornerback who made the Pro Bowl last year while leading the NFL in passes defended.
But so far, all these new additions haven’t paid off the way many thought they would.
Through Week 4, the Bolts are 20th in yards allowed, 29th in passing touchdowns allowed and 30th in points allowed.
After running out to a 21-0 lead on Sunday, they allowed Houston to get within 27-24 on the back of several big yardage plays.
One play that stood out was a 75-yard run by running back Dameon Pierce that resulted in the Texans’ first touchdown of the game.
DAMEON PIERCE BELIEVERS STAND UP 🗣pic.twitter.com/3OLkZIELwV
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) October 2, 2022
Notice all the missed tackles and blocks on that play by L.A.
The Texans aren’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, as they rank 17th in points scored and 29th in total yards, and their running game is especially weak.
But L.A. allowed Pierce to gain 131 yards and score a touchdown on 14 carries.
How much of this was its problems on defense, and how much may have only been due to complacency and inattention after running up such a big lead?
The Chargers Are Missing Some Pieces
The glaring absence on Sunday for L.A. was Joey Bosa, it’s four-time Pro Bowl pass rusher who suffered a groin injury in Week 3 and will be out for at least several weeks after having surgery.
In some ways, its defense was able to apply pressure on Houston quarterback Davis Mills, as he threw two interceptions and was sacked four times.
Pressures generated by the Chargers against HOU:
Sebastian Joseph-Day – 5(1 sack, 1 hit)
Morgan Fox – 5 (1 sack, 1 hit)
Khalil Mack – 3 (1 sack, 1 hit)
Chris Rumph – 3 (1 hit)
Jerry Tillery – 2 (1 sack)
Kenneth Murray – 2 (1 hit)
Drue Tranquill – 2 (1 hit)
Christian Covington – 1
— Guilty As Charged Podcast (@GACPodcast17) October 3, 2022
Mack had one of those sacks, and he has been as good as advertised this season, as he is sitting on five sacks, five tackles for loss and seven QB hits thus far this year.
The Chargers seem to have the players they need to have an air-tight defense – it’s time for them to pull their full weight.