4 takeaways from Chargers’ 27-24 loss to Titans

The Chargers fell to 0-2, losing in overtime to the Titans.

Here’s what to take away from the Week 2 game:

Run defense spark

Lean on the stars

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

With Austin Ekeler out, the Chargers were missing one of their four-star position players. But the other three – Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams – played up to the billing on Sunday.

Herbert had 305 passing yards and two touchdowns, piloting the offense to another productive day under Kellen Moore’s new system. Allen was targeted ten times, converting it to eight receptions for 111 yards and two touchdowns in a vintage performance. Williams was targeted a whopping thirteen times, turning it into eight catches for 83 yards and converting several key first downs.

On defense, LA was shorthanded without Eric Kendricks, while Joey Bosa played in a limited fashion. That put much more pressure on Derwin James, who played much more in the box on Sunday, and Khalil Mack to play the way their names suggest they should. James led the team in tackles with 11, while Mack added five tackles and a pass deflection while primarily plugging the run. Bosa was also hyper-productive in limited snaps, tacking on two sacks of Ryan Tannehill.

Downfield passing defense

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Week 1 was a horrible showing from the Chargers pass defense. That goes without saying. But there was at least a plausible explanation with Mike McDaniel’s high-flying offense serving as the opponent in that game. On Sunday, with a plodding Titans offense that turned the ball over three times in Week 1, LA presumably had an opportunity to get right.

Instead, the Chargers allowed two downfield bombs to Titans receivers. The first was a 70-yard catch from Treylon Burks, who beat Asante Samuel Jr. down the field midway through the second quarter. Burks was tackled at the 5-yard line, setting up Tennessee’s first score of the game. With six minutes left in the game and the Titans trailing 21-17, Tannehill again uncorked a deep shot, finding Chris Moore for a gain of 49 yards past Michael Davis. It put Tennessee in position to retake the lead with 2:22 remaining.

It’s an awful showing once again for a Chargers defense whose philosophy is centered around putting a roof on the opposing offense. Given the historic struggles of the run defense, maybe the gameplan was more focused on stopping Henry. Even so, that’s no excuse for LA’s corners to be getting straight up beat in man coverage against a Titans receiving corps that is not widely regarded as a strong one.

Raiders redux

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The end of the game felt eerily similar to the 2021 season finale against the Raiders. In that game, the Chargers had Las Vegas facing a 3rd and 4 in a tie game in overtime. The Raiders seemed willing to run the clock out to tie the game, which would have sent both teams to the playoffs. Instead, Brandon Staley took a timeout to get the defense into the right personnel grouping and Josh Jacobs steamed ahead for ten yards. Vegas kicked a field goal to win the game and end the Chargers’ season.

On Sunday, the Chargers had Tennessee facing a 3rd and 2 on the outskirts of field goal range midway through overtime. The Titans took Derrick Henry out of the game to give him a chance to catch his breath after giving him two consecutive touches. Again, Staley took a timeout, ostensibly to get LA into the right personnel grouping. Tennessee put Henry back in the game, and he churned ahead for two yards and a first down to keep the Titans’ drive moving. A 14-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins, two Henry runs later, and Tennessee walked away with a 27-24 win.

Against Vegas, the decision ended the Chargers’ season. Against Tennessee, the decision could be the beginning of the end of the Brandon Staley era.

Story originally appeared on Chargers Wire