The Chargers beat the Falcons on Sunday, exorcising the demons of last week’s 45-0 blowout loss to the Patriots. But Los Angeles continues to mismanage critical in-game situations.
Sunday’s game was more reminiscent of the Nov. 29 loss to Buffalo than last week’s embarrassing special teams blunders. At the end of Sunday’s second quarter, the Chargers had no timeouts and 22 seconds on the clock for a third-and-1 play at Atlanta’s eight-yard line.
The obvious choice — really, the only choice — is to pass in that situation. If you run and don’t get past the sticks, you can’t spike to stop the clock and there’s not enough time for the field goal team to set up and get a kick away.
Of course, the Chargers ran Kalen Ballage up the middle and he was stopped for no gain. Though Los Angeles’ field goal unit made a valiant effort, there was no way enough players were going to get on and off the field to get that kick away in time.
On the television broadcast, head coach Anthony Lynn could be seen making a throwing motion to his offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, Lynn presumably saying some version of, “Why didn’t you call a pass?”
After the game, Lynn knew that play cost his team three points.
“You cannot run the ball in that situation,” Lynn said, via Gilbert Manzano of the Southern California News Group. “You just can’t. We try to be aggressive, but you can’t run the ball in that situation and that right there, that’s an area where we’ve got to improve as a coaching staff, communication wise, and we will. But you cannot run the ball there.”
It would be one thing if this were an isolated incident, but Lynn and his team have bungled these situations all year. While Lynn will reportedly keep his job through the end of the season, he probably doesn’t have many more opportunities to display that improvement he claims is coming.