The Chargers are wasting Justin Herbert’s talent with a disappearing passing game

Even though the Los Angeles Chargers are 5-3, their offense still seems flat. Justin Herbert has one of the biggest arms in the NFL yet their offense averages 6.3 yards per play, which is 30th in the league, per Sports Info Solutions. The receivers have gone through injuries this season, but even when they were on the field running back Austin Ekeler was still their leading receiver.

Here is what offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi recently had to say about moving the ball, “I think we have had a little bit of shuffling guys in and out. Like I’ve said before, each group that you have based on the defense you’re facing, it’s just finding that right formula,” Lombardi said of the offense’s third-down performance. “Some of it is better planning, better play-calling, better execution. Everyone just picking it up a little bit.”

When diving into the film, play calling certainly seems like a big issue. Moving forward, the Chargers must get their receivers in a better position to win downfield — no matter who they are. Let’s dive into the film to diagnose what we have seen over these last few weeks.

Bad playcalling

(Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

Herbert and the Chargers are sitting at a 60.7% completion percentage on third down, which is 17th in the NFL. If they want to be a playoff contender, they will have to improve when moving the ball on critical downs.

Last week against the Atlanta Falcons, they came away with a win but because of Herbert’s arm talent alone. On a third-and-two, this is what the Chargers drew up.

Instead of sending just one guy in another direction, they have all three receivers on the right side of the field run slants, or routes to the middle of the field.

When looking back at the play, Herbert should not have forced that ball over the middle, but the offense’s lack of innovation downfield, he feels like he has no choice.

This is why Herbert is now sitting with a 29% completion percentage when throwing deep passes, which is 30th in the league.

With the recent injuries, this offense is now made up of mostly dink and dunks down field. That is why Ekeler is the second leading receiver (382 yards) behind Mike Williams (495 yards).

The Chargers offense is a reductive West Coast offense with a gunslinger at quarterback, and this is a problem.

Herbert doing it on his own

(Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)

Josh Norris, from NFL on NBC, pointed out that according to AWS, yards after catch make up 55% of the yards on this Chargers offense which is 6th highest in the league.

The Chargers are not opening up their receivers downfield. Last week against the Falcons, the offense finally drew up a dagger route concept to get tight end Gerald Everett open.

Herbert has shown that he has been able to do this on a consistent basis, but if the Chargers’ coaching staff doesn’t start to spread the field open a little bit more, their offense will remain stagnant.

Herbert is in the same conversation as Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen when it comes to arm talent, but the only difference is that Mahomes’ and Allen’s offenses are tailored to fit their strengths. Andy Reid has adjusted his offense to get Mahomes on the move when needed, but he also draws up plays to get his receivers open down field.

Joe Lombardi must do the same for his quarterback as the season progresses — that’s if the Chargers want to utilize their quarterback’s best skillset, which happens to be his rocket of an arm.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire