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An NFL Scouts Quickie: As post-season looms, no one is more dangerous than the Los Angeles Chargers

Updated: Jan 7

The NFL playoffs are two weeks out and there is not one team that feels safe versus the Los Angeles Chargers. However, there are teams that feel pretty comfortable against the highly predictable Joe Lombardi. The offensive coordinator could be a thorn in the side of his own Charger team to allow them to advance. But AFC teams have their work cutout for themselves in playing Los Angeles.

Tim Daniel NFL Game Scout, Football Writer


Tim Daniel is a NFL game scout, NFL Draft development and professional player development coach, NCAA talent evaluator, and football writer for 29 years.

For the last year and a half, the football world was watching what some called the newest defensive guru in the NFL, Brandon Staley, become the Chargers new head coach. For the next 41 games, we saw a mediocre football team with Super Bowl talent get run over by opponents, and year-long, unexplainable coaching decisions that literally cost the Chargers the playoffs in 2021.

Until December 11th. Things have changed since and now we see the best defensive team in the National Football League is the Los Angeles Chargers and no one is better than them.

Since then, the Chargers have given up an average of just over 10 points per game and a little over 88 yards a game rushing. All number one in the league during that span.

Adjustments were made after the release of Jerry Tillery and the best defensive player in the last few weeks has been Kyle Van Noy. A pressure package on the QB has allowed Van Noy to be more visible and others have been more prominent against the run. That in-season move has been a game changer for Staley.

But there is one player that is still the star of the powder blue and that is Chargers quarterback, Justin Herbert. After his injury against the Kansas City Chiefs in week three, he has not been himself. His touchdown production and QB rating is considerably lower than his prior three years, but his completion percentage is higher and his turnover ratio is about the same as the prior two years.

For nearly two years Staley has taken the brunt of fan bashing because of those horrible decisions. However, right now his defense is the best in the league. But there is another problem that he is facing.

Offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has been a perpetual play-calling train wreck for two years. This year it has gotten worse.

Of course, in the typical Los Angeles way, there are excuses. Injuries are the problem, Justin got hurt, and tackle and first-round pick and Pro Bowlers, Rashawn Slater, Joey Bosa, Mike Williams, and Keenan Allen all got hurt and missed significant time.

Well, maybe they are valid excuses. Herbert has a better completion percentage this year with fractured chest cartilage. He’s been without two All-Pro receivers and the best left tackle in the business. But still, point production is way down.

Lombardi and his offensive scheme are the most predictable one in the league. In all pass attempt plays in every game this season, over 18% of those pass plays, every route downfield is completely covered up. Meaning, a defender is covering every eligible receiver in the routes with no reasonable throw available.

However, in that 18% of hard-covered routes, Justin completes nearly 33% of that 18%. That is a remarkable stat. But were these routes poorly run routes? No, they were picked up pre-snap by the defense. None more evident in the Colts game.

But the Bolts are winning, and it is because of the defense. Joey Bosa is back from injury and Darwin James is off of concussion protocol, the Chargers are heading into the final regular season game against one of the worst teams in the NFL, the Denver Broncos.

Pressures and sacks on the quarterback are a two-year high for LA and there is no team hotter defensively than the Chargers.

Of course, the Achilles heel is Lombardi. At this current state offensively, he is the colossal problem and if the Chargers are going to advance in the playoffs, his philosophy must change. He has the most talented offense in the league, just as the defense is. On paper, Los Angeles should be meeting the Bills in the AFC championship.

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