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.