Chargers’ offensive keys to victory vs. Jaguars

Here is what the Chargers must do on the offensive side of the ball to beat the Jaguars.

The Chargers rank 10th in offensive DVOA, a sign that Joe Lombardi has his squad moving. But there’s been plenty of criticism about the play calling through two weeks.

Here are four keys things Los Angeles needs to do against the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon to not only get the critics off Lombardi’s back but get them a win.

Diversify the passing game

One of the main points of ire amongst Chargers fans has been Lombardi’s overreliance on just a few passing concepts to get the ball moving. The stick concept, a play designed for athletic tight ends like Gerald Everett because of its option route at that position, is perhaps the most egregious culprit. Lombardi has also gone away from pushing the ball downfield, something the team said would be an emphasis this offseason with a new offensive line. To fix this, I’d love to see Los Angeles get DeAndre Carter and Jalen Guyton more involved. Carter should be the third wide receiver with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both on the field because of how his skill set complements those two compared to Josh Palmer. Guyton has barely played but is the team’s fastest receiver and therefore most obvious deep threat.

Effectively run the ball

Despite being 10th in offensive DVOA, the Chargers are just 26th in rush DVOA, statistical confirmation of what most fans have seen through two weeks. And before you ask, no, I don’t think Austin Ekeler is a surefire fantasy bust yet. But Los Angeles does need to show some signs of life in the run game, especially with Justin Herbert hurting due to the rib injury suffered last Thursday against the Chiefs. Maybe that means we see more doses of Joshua Kelley, who’s done well as the change of pace back through two weeks. Maybe it means Ekeler gets involved in the short passing game early, like how the Panthers try to engage Christian McCaffrey early in games when runs between the tackles aren’t working. Somehow, someway, Ekeler needs to get involved.

Attack the slot

The Jaguars have Darious Williams playing the slot after signing him this offseason to a big-money contract based on his play on the boundary for the Rams. Williams did perform well against now-teammate Christian Kirk on the inside last season when matchups dictated it, something that Jacksonville has pointed out. But through two weeks, the results have been uninspiring. Williams has allowed six receptions for 53 yards on ten targets thus far, with five of those receptions coming for 44 yards in Week 1 against Washington. Last week, Williams had a much easier matchup since Indianapolis was missing their top two receivers, which may have contributed to his uptick in production. With Keenan Allen likely returning from his hamstring injury, Lombardi should have the matchup advantages to work the short game if he sticks to it.

Contain the edges

Josh Allen and Travon Walker have been phenomenal to start the season, with the duo combining for ten total pressures through two weeks. Jacksonville has the athletes to move people around, and we’ve seen both Allen and Walker line up and win from the interior in packages. It will take a complete effort from the Chargers’ offensive line to keep them quiet, not just a stellar game from Rashawn Slater on his island at left tackle. That proposition gets dicier with Trey Pipkins nursing an ankle injury and Corey Linsley still not practicing with knee tendinitis. I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see Everett, Sony Michel, or Zander Horvath stay in to block more frequently to hedge against this talented front.

Chargers QB Justin Herbert on playing vs. Jaguars: ‘Decision will be made on Sunday’

We now wait to see who will be under center for the Chargers against the Jaguars.

The Chargers are taking on the Jaguars on Sunday, and the biggest question remains who will be under center.

Justin Herbert, who has a rib cartilage fracture that he sustained in the Week 2 loss to the Chiefs, did not practice Friday and is listed as questionable.

This comes after he returned to practice earlier this week where he had two limited sessions.

With the decision looming, Herbert said it “will be made on Sunday,” adding that the plan is to go through a workout before the game.

“I’m certainly going to do everything I can to prepare and be ready to play on Sunday,” Herbert said.

If Herbert can’t play, Chase Daniel will get the start. Daniel took first-team reps during Friday’s practice.

Daniel, the 13-year veteran, has played 71 games with five starts, throwing for 1,694 yards and eight touchdowns.

If Daniel is under center, the offensive game plan would be altered quite a bit.

With an arm nowhere near the talent of Herbert, Daniel would likely be relegated to short and quick passes. The running game would also be relied on more than usual.

Ultimately, the defense could be the deciding factor in this game, as it is difficult to see the offense having a lot of spark if Daniel is given the start.

Who are the experts taking in Chargers vs. Jaguars?

Find out who national pundits are favoring in the matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Los Angeles Chargers are considered 3.5-point favorites over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 3 of the 2022 regular season. The over/under is 42.5 points, per Tipico Sportsbook.

That means oddsmakers are taking bets on whether the two teams will combine to score more than or fewer than 42.5 points.

My score prediction for the game is a 24-14 win for the Bolts, with a combined total of 48 points. So if I were putting money behind my prediction, I’d bet the over.

As for game picks, analysts are rolling with the Bolts in this one.

Expert Pick
Nate Davis (USA Today) Chargers
Jarrett Bell (USA Today) Chargers
Mike Clay (ESPN) Chargers
Matt Bowen (ESPN) Chargers
Pete Prisco (CBS Sports) Chargers
Bill Bender (Sporting News) Chargers
Gregg Rosenthal (NFL Media) Chargers
Bleacher Report Chargers

Sunday’s game will begin at 1:05 p.m. PT and will be televised on CBS.

Chargers’ causes for concern vs. Jaguars in Week 3

A look at some causes for concern as the Los Angeles Chargers gear up to face the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Chargers will look to improve to 2-1 on the season this Sunday against the Jaguars at SoFi Stadium.

However, questions about this team still abound, especially on offense.

Here are four reasons to be concerned about the game:

Justin Herbert’s health

The conversation around the Chargers this week and likely multiple weeks after this will be about whether or not Herbert will be good to go on Sunday after fracturing his rib cartilage in the loss to the Chiefs. Ultimately, it comes down to pain tolerance: if Herbert can withstand the injury, he can play. The team will likely give him an injection to help with the pain management, the same one that they gave Tyrod Taylor when the team doctor accidentally punctured Taylor’s lung. But then again, there’s a possibility that Herbert sits out and Chase Daniel starts. Even if a healthy Daniel is under center, I don’t feel confident that the offense will fire on all cylinders.

Trevor Lawrence’s ascension

Lawrence has been nothing short of spectacular this season, largely thanks to an offense that makes schematic sense as opposed to whatever Urban Meyer’s staff was putting on the field last season. The former No. 1 overall pick is top ten in nearly every QB metric there is through two weeks:

This has come against Washington and Indianapolis, two bottom-half defenses against the pass according to DVOA. The Chargers, meanwhile, are eighth in pass defense DVOA, largely because of the emergence of Asante Samuel Jr., who has strung together two stellar games. Still, this isn’t the Trevor Lawrence of last season, when Jacksonville snagged the top pick for the second consecutive season. This could be his national coming out party if he performs against this Chargers secondary.

Run game woes

LA has been well below average as a run-blocking team, ranking in the bottom seven in perfectly blocked play percentage. Jacksonville, meanwhile, is about league average in preventing perfectly blocked run plays. Even if Herbert plays, I’d expect the game plan to feature Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley more heavily to take pressure off the quarterback. But if LA does that, they’ll need the run game to wake up. That’s no easy feat with Corey Linsley (knee tendinitis) and Trey Pipkins (ankle) also nursing minor injuries. Linsley is a key part of the communication up front, and his absence in the second half was palpable on Thursday. If he can’t go on Sunday, the run game may continue to sputter. And if that happens with a hampered Justin Herbert or a limited Chase Daniel under center, this game may suddenly be much more of a sweat.

Trap game

These aren’t last year’s Jaguars, and they certainly aren’t the 2020 Jaguars, who dropped a game to LA 39-29. LA cannot expect to be able to throw Daniel out there at quarterback and cruise to an easy victory. Again, Jacksonville has only played the Commanders and Colts, who rank 24th and 31st in overall DVOA, respectively. But Doug Pederson has this team playing to the talent level they’ve acquired over the last few seasons. #1 overall pick Travon Walker is already drawing double teams because of his proficiency as a pass rusher. Lawrence is firing on all cylinders. Christian Kirk has looked worth the massive contract he was given. The Chargers cannot look past this game, and I don’t think they will, at least not to the level some fans have. But if they come out flat, thinking they can ease out a victory, they’ve got another thing coming.

What’s the key matchup to watch for in Chargers vs. Jaguars?

Highlighting the key matchup when the Los Angeles Chargers face the Jacksonville Jaguars.

When the Chargers take on the Jaguars, the attention will be on whoever’s under center for Los Angeles, whether that be a recovering-from-injury Justin Herbert or veteran Chase Daniel.

However, another thing on the field that should draw eyes is the matchup between cornerback Bryce Callahan and wide receiver Christian Kirk.

Not named Khalil Mack, Callahan has been the Bolt’s best off-season addition up to this point in the season.

Callahan has allowed three catches for 21 yards and a 6.3 passer rating on 65 coverage snaps in two weeks. He has also amassed one interception to go along with that.

Now, Callahan is getting ready to face his toughest test yet in Kirk, who’s also proving to be his team’s most valuable acquisition.

Kirk, who signed a monstrous contract after playing with the Cardinals, has 12 receptions, the 10th-most, 195 receiving yards (4th), and two touchdowns.

While Kirk has played outside and in the slot throughout his career, most of his snaps with the Jaguars have come inside (82%).

Kirk is a good wideout because of his quickness to beat fast corners and ability to run away from coverage and make significant gains out of short receptions.

Kirk has 2.79 yards per route run (7th), 85 yards after the catch: 85 (7th), and five explosive receptions (t-4th).

Meanwhile, Callahan has only allowed 50+ yards once since Week 8 of 2020.

It all starts up front in the trenches, where getting pressure on quarterback Trevor Lawrence to give him little time to throw is imperative.

Still, Lawrence should have his opportunities to throw to his top target, and it’ll be crucial for Callahan to have tight coverage on him.

Chargers’ J.C. Jackson, Corey Linsley not practicing for second straight day

The Chargers were without two of their keys for the second straight day as they prepare for their Week 3 matchup with the Jaguars.

The Chargers were without two of their key players for the second straight day as they prepare for their Week 3 matchup with the Jaguars.

Cornerback J.C. Jackson and center Corey Linsley were not on the practice field on Thursday.

Jackson is coming off his debut with Los Angeles after recovering from a minor ankle procedure he had before the start of the season.

On Wednesday, head coach Brandon Staley said that Jackson is sore from last Thursday night’s game against the Chiefs.

Linsley suffered a knee injury in the loss to Kansas City, which caused him to miss the entire second half.

If Jackson has to miss this weekend’s game against Jacksonville, Michael Davis and Asante Samuel Jr. will start on the outside, while Will Clapp will start at center in place of Linsley.

Chargers’ reasons for optimism vs. Jaguars in Week 3

Here are four reasons for optimism for the Chargers as they face the Jaguars on Sunday afternoon.

Despite the injuries on offense, the Chargers seem to have the on-field product going through two weeks.

After beating the Raiders and keeping things close with the Chiefs, Los Angeles will look to improve to 2-1 against the Jaguars this Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

With that, here are four reasons to be confident in a Bolt’s victory:

Strength of schedule

According to Football Outsiders, Jacksonville has had the second-easiest schedule to start the season of any team, contributing to their current second-place standing on the DVOA leaderboards. Los Angeles, meanwhile, has faced the 11th toughest schedule, including a Kansas City team currently ranked 4th by overall DVOA. So this, on paper, is the toughest game for the Jaguars of their young season and the easiest for the Chargers. Granted, that’s with only two other games of reference, but it’s still something worth considering when examining how Jacksonville has found success early on.

Healing up

Brandon Staley said at practice on Tuesday that all of Justin Herbert (ribs), Keenan Allen (hamstring), Donald Parham (hamstring), Corey Linsley (knee), and Trey Pipkins (ankle) are day-to-day, which should mean that at least half of them will be available for this game. I assume Herbert, Linsley, and Pipkins will play, but getting Allen or Parham back would do wonders for this offense. We saw how much the Chargers struggled to separate without Allen on Thursday against the Chiefs. Darious Williams has struggled to adjust to an inside corner role for Jacksonville this season. Parham is the only threat down the seam this team has; getting him back should open up the rest of the offense. If all five players can go on Sunday, we’ll finally see what this offense is supposed to look like.

Talent difference

Assuming everyone is healthy, the Chargers have a better team than the Jaguars. Of course, not everyone is healthy for Los Angeles, but somehow everyone is healthy for Jacksonville. The Jaguars are also playing exceptionally well under new coach Doug Pederson – I don’t mean for this section to make it sound like the Jags are devoid of talent. But these two teams are on different trajectories right now. Jacksonville would be happy to make the playoffs for the first time since the Myles Jack Was Down game in 2017. L.A. has its sights set on a Super Bowl run. These are the games teams like the Chargers are supposed to win, and there should be a certain amount of confidence coming into Sunday that they will.

Home field advantage

Jacksonville has never beaten the Chargers in California despite having five chances to do so. Trevor Lawrence has also started his career 0-9 on the road in a Jaguars uniform. The Jaguars have only beaten the Chargers three times in 12 attempts – Week 5 of 2003, Week 11 of 2007, and Week 10 of 2017. In all three of those games, the loss put the Chargers at .500 or lower – in 2003, it dropped them to 0-5. All that is to say, generally, if Jacksonville beats L.A., it’s because the Chargers are bad and also in Florida. Given that they are neither bad nor in Duval County this weekend, historical precedent tells us L.A. should have this one in the bag.

Chargers’ Brandon Staley gives encouraging update on Justin Herbert

After having the past five days off, Chargers HC Brandon Staley provided an update on QB Justin Herbert.

Chargers head coach Brandon Staley provided some positive news regarding quarterback Justin Herbert ahead of Wednesday’s practice.

Staley said Herbert is day to day, adding that he has gotten a lot of rest, is feeling more comfortable, and was able to do light throwing and rotational work on Tuesday.

Staley also said that Herbert will participate in individual drills while wearing a rib protector.

Herbert suffered a fracture to his rib cartilage after being hit by defensive end Mike Danna in the fourth quarter of the Week 2 loss to the Chiefs.

With four more days until its matchup with the Jaguars, Los Angeles will use these next few practices to determine whether Herbert is OK to play.

“We’re going to listen to Justin,” Staley said. “The players are at the front of all decisions we make since I’ve become the head coach… And then making sure we have alignment with the medical team.”

Nonetheless, after having the past five days off, it’s encouraging to hear that Herbert is progressing well.

Staley provided additional injury updates:

Wide receiver Keenan Allen (hamstring), tight end Donald Parham (hamstring), center Corey Linsley (knee) and right tackle Trey Pipkins (ankle/foot) are all “day to day.”

Who will start at quarterback for Chargers? Question looms ahead of matchup with Jaguars

This week’s storyline is the status of Chargers QB Justin Herbert.

After falling to the Chiefs last Thursday night, the Chargers begin preparing for their Week 3 bout with the Jaguars.

But practice plans could be a little bit different this week, as the status of Justin Herbert remains to be seen.

Herbert has a fracture to his rib cartilage that he sustained in the Week 2 loss to Kansas City.

He suffered the injury on a hit late in the fourth quarter. He left the game for one play before returning. On his first snap back in, Herbert was hit again and visibly uncomfortable.

Following the game, Brandon Staley said Herbert was day-to-day, and the team would reassess before practice on Wednesday. Staley did not rule Herbert out from practicing, nor did he rule out him facing Jacksonville.

Giving Herbert the green light could come down to evaluating his pain levels after having those few extra days to rest, whether he feels he can still play at a high level, and if they’re confident enough that he won’t worsen it.

However, if the coaching staff believes that it would be more beneficial to use more time to recover, Herbert would be sidelined in favor of his backup, Chase Daniel.

Daniel, the 13-year veteran, has played 71 games with five starts, throwing for 1,694 yards and eight touchdowns.

If Daniel is under center, the offensive game plan would be altered quite a bit.

With an arm nowhere near the talent of Herbert, Daniel would likely be relegated to short and quick passes. The running game would also be relied on more than usual.

Ultimately, the defense could be the deciding factor in this game, as it’s hard to see the offense having a lot of spark if Daniel is given the start.

We will know Los Angeles’ plans at quarterback in the coming days.

5 key things to know about Chargers’ Week 3 opponent: Jaguars

To get you prepped for the Chargers’ Week 3 matchup with the Jaguars, here are five things to know about their opponent.

After suffering defeat to the Chiefs, the Chargers will look to get back on track this Sunday against the Jaguars.

To get you prepped for the Week 3 bout, here are five key things to know about Los Angeles’ opponent ahead of the matchup.

New sheriff in town

After a short stint with Urban Meyer, Doug Pederson was hired as the Jaguars’ new head coach. Pederson had the same role with the Eagles for five seasons (2016-20), where he went 42-37-1, won a Super Bowl in 2017, and made three playoff appearances. In addition, press Taylor was brought on as the team’s offensive coordinator, and Brian Caldwell was to serve as the defensive coordinator.

The man under center

Trevor Lawrence, the 2021 No. 1 overall pick, enters his second season. Up to this point in his sophomore season, Lawrence has improved on his accuracy, not making careless throws and his pocket movement. Lawrence currently has 510 passing yards and three touchdowns to one interception. In Jacksonville’s victory over the Colts, he set a career-high completion percentage at 83.3 and a career-high passer rating at 111.8.

Kirk doing work

The Jaguars signed former Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk to a massive four-year, $72 million contract with $37 million guaranteed, which sparked debates. However, he’s been proving to be worth the money early on. The speedy Kirk has 12 catches for 195 yards and two touchdowns through the first two weeks of the season, with an average of 16.3 yards per catch.

One-two punch

While the duo of Lawrence and Kirk is looking sharp early on, the Jaguars also have a running game they can lean on. Between James Robinson and Travis Etienne, Jacksonville averages 109.5 rushing yards per game and 4.0 yards per carry. Robinson and Etienne have three and two explosive runs (carries over 10 yards), respectively. Robinson has received the bulk of the carries, but Etienne is more of a receiving threat, as he has five receptions for 51 yards.

Decent defense

The Jaguars have done a great job of building their defensive core throughout the past few years. Up to this point, the additions have seemed to be paying off. Jacksonville ranks No. 1 in turnover differential (+5), No. 6 in points allowed per game (14.0) and No. 8 in yards allowed (304.0). They are tied for fourth in sacks with four, led by edge defender Josh Allen, who has two and six pressures. 2022 No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker has a sack and four pressures.