Chargers looking to continue fast start over next 3 weeks
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers have won five straight to improve to 6-2 at midseason for the first time in 12 years. With the next three games against teams with losing records, the one thing coach Anthony Lynn isn’t worried about is complacency.
“This group has an understanding that we start over every week. We refocus and regroup,” Lynn said Monday. “We’ll go back to work on Wednesday like we hadn’t done anything. I like this group’s ability to stay in the present.”
The Chargers’ next three opponents have a combined record of 6-19. Los Angeles travels to Oakland (1-7) on Sunday before hosting Denver (3-6) and Arizona (2-6). After that, the slate gets more challenging with a road game against Pittsburgh, hosting Cincinnati and a Thursday night game at Kansas City, who beat the Chargers in Week 1.
History, though, bodes well for teams that get off to fast starts. Of the 124 teams that started 6-2 since the current postseason format started in 1990, only 21 haven’t made the playoffs.
“We have put ourselves in good position to maybe make the tournament at the end of the season but we still have to finish,” Lynn said.
Lynn’s squad continues to have momentum on both sides of the ball. Running back Melvin Gordon has rushed for 100 yards in three of his last four games with five touchdowns while wide receiver Tyrell Williams has four TDs in the past three games.
On defense, the Chargers have 14 sacks in their past four games despite defensive end Joey Bosa not playing a down yet this season due to a foot injury. The unit has also come up big in the last two games as it denied Tennessee from making a game-winning, two-point conversion and forced a Russell Wilson incompletion in the end zone on the final play at Seattle.
Defensive end Isaac Rochelle said those plays can be frustrating late in games, but something they need to go through.
“It is crucial for our defense and our team to be in those situations and deal with it now, especially when you come out with the win,” he said. “It says a lot about us. Our defense held up two weeks in a row.”
About the only thing that hasn’t gone well is the kicking game. The Chargers released Caleb Sturgis on Monday after he missed two extra points and a field goal against Seattle. The six-year veteran— who was 9 of 15 this season on extra points and 9 of 13 on field goals — is the first kicker since the Raiders’ Jim Breech in 1979 to miss a PAT and field goal in three straight games.
“We feel like we gave him a fair shot, stayed with him as long as we could and it came down to performance,” Lynn said.
Michael Badgley has been promoted from the practice squad. He made all three of his field goals and seven extra points in two games when Sturgis could not play due to a quadriceps injury. The Chargers have been the Bermuda Triangle for kickers as Badgley is the team’s sixth placekicker since the start of last season.
Los Angeles lost its first four games to start last season but is 15-5 since, which is the third-best mark in the AFC (New England is 18-3 and Pittsburgh is 15-4-1). Williams said the emphasis since the beginning of the season has been on getting out to a fast start but now they have to sustain it.
“Going to another tough place and getting a win just keeps adding and building on how we play,” he said.