There are games when the stat sheet can lie, painting a different story than how the game actually played out on the field.
Sunday’s 35-23 loss to the Rams was not one of those games, particularly on the defensive side of the ball for the Bolts.
It was a game as uncharacteristic as any since Gus Bradley arrived as their performance was not indicative of what they stand for.
“(This loss is) on us on defense,” Derwin James said. “We couldn’t get a stop this game. Offense put up enough points. This one was on the defense.”
Overall, the defense gave up 521 yards of offense to the Rams, who gained 171 on the ground (4.9 yards per carry) and 350 through the air. The Bolts allowed the Rams to go 8-of-11 on third down as they converted at a 73 percent clip while punting only once all game. A hallmark of Bradley’s defense has been limiting the damage to field goals instead of touchdowns, yet the Rams’ offense found paydirt four times.
In addition, the Chargers struggled to find much of a pass rush, recording only one sack all game when Brandon Mebane brought down Jared Goff in the first half. The Rams also authored several chunk plays throughout the game as the Bolts missed several tackles.
“(We were) awful,” said Damion Square. “(I’m) extremely frustrated. (You’ve) got to get off the field on third downs if you want to beat teams like the Rams.”
That frustration was palpable on each of the defensive players’ faces as they failed to match the Rams’ high-tempo offense.
“We just couldn’t stop them,” said Desmond King. “They just kept converting on third down and we couldn’t get off the field. They just ran plays. They did their job, and then we tried to do our job, but they executed better than we did.”
“It’s tough,” Square added. “You’ve just got to find the ball. (They have) so many great playmakers (who are) one (missed) tackle away from getting in the end zone. I think that’s big for them, and that’s what happened today. We just couldn’t get those guys on the ground (and) we had the opportunity to. We had some foolish penalties that extended drives against an offense that’s talented. Just crazy penalties and a lot of missed opportunities, but it is what it is.”
Meanwhile, Head Coach Anthony Lynn stressed one important ingredient that’s been missing in both of the Bolts’ losses this season - the inability to get after the passer.
“We have to figure out where to get pressure on the quarterback,” he said. “That’s what’s missing right now.”
Despite their poor showing, if you think the defense is down and out after Sunday’s performance, well, you don’t know the type of players they have inside the locker room.
“We see where our defense is going,” Derwin James said. “We just have to continue to get better. Our offense is one of the best in the league. Going against that defense today, I felt we did a good job. Like I said, we have to get stops as a defense, look at the film and just get better. It’s a long season. We still have a long season to go.”
“We’re a good football team,” echoed Square. “This game doesn’t change that. I know the guys that I come to work with, I know the capabilities of those guys. Those capabilities just have to come together on the same day and they will."
There is clearly no panic for the Bolts despite giving up over 30 points in both their losses this season. They know they have the talent and scheme in place to dominate on defense, which is why Lynn confidently declared the team will turn things around.
“I’ve got a great defensive coaching staff,” he said emphatically. “I’m telling you, we will get this figured out.”
View the best of the Chargers as they face off against the Los Angeles Rams at the LA Memorial Coliseum.