Chargers resisting youth movement despite 4-8 record
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Anthony Lynn has no intention of turning the final four games of the Los Angeles Chargers’ season into an audition for younger players.
The Chargers have dropped three straight and fell to 4-8 with Sunday’s 23-20 loss at Denver. With their playoff hopes essentially dashed, Lynn wants to see his squad finish strong starting this week at Jacksonville.
“We’re going to try to win every single one of these suckers. If a young guy can come up and help us, then, of course, we’ll let them play,” Lynn said Monday. “Right now, no. We’re not sitting any veterans.”
Turnovers continue to be a huge problem. Opponents have scored 59 points off the 17 turnovers by Los Angeles that have not occurred on its final drive. The Broncos got their first 10 points after Philip Rivers threw an interception and Troymaine Pope muffed a punt. Los Angeles has a minus-10 turnover differential, which is third worst in the AFC.
“I think the offense has moved the ball up and down the field. We just had, like I’ve said over and over again, too many turnovers. That stalls drives and is taking points off the board,” Lynn said.
Lynn spoke to the NFL officiating department about Casey Hayward’s pass interference penalty, which led to Denver’s Brandon McManus hitting the game-winning, 53-yard field goal on the final play. The coach still disagreed with the call but added that the loss shouldn’t be blamed on that play.
Ever since Shane Steichen was promoted to offensive coordinator at midseason, the Chargers have been more committed to the run game. After having only one game with 29 rushing plays or more the first half of the season, the Chargers have three in Steichen’s four games running the offense.
Los Angeles ran the ball 29 times for 115 yards against the Broncos despite trailing for most of the game. Melvin Gordon had 99 yards and averaged 5 yards per carry. The only drawback was the Chargers had a season-high four carries that lost yards.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The special teams had its worst game of the season. Besides Pope’s muffed punt, Drue Tranquill got called for roughing the kicker and Denver’s Diontae Spencer averaged 28 yards on two kickoff returns.
Derwin James had four tackles in his first game after being activated on Saturday. James, who had been out since suffering a stress fracture to his right foot during training camp, was supposed to see limited action but was in for all but one of the Chargers’ 39 defensive plays.
“I thought DJ looked good. Probably played more snaps than we wanted to, but it was that type of game,” Lynn said.
Left tackle Russell Okung returned after missing the past two games with a groin injury but was called for three penalties, including a holding call during the third quarter that stalled a drive. It is the first time since 2014 that Okung has been penalized three times in a game.
The Chargers got out of Sunday’s game without any significant new injuries. For the first time this season, the roster is at close to full strength.
5 — Consecutive games in which Mike Williams has had a 40-yard reception. The last time that happened in the NFL was 2016 when Sammie Coates did it for Pittsburgh. Williams leads the league with seven receptions of over 40 yards.
The Chargers will face a rookie quarterback for the second straight week. Gardner Minshew will start for Jacksonville after he took over for Nick Foles during Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who was the Jaguars’ coach from 2013-16, makes his second trip back in the past three years.