Skip to main content
Chargers Homepage

Chargers Official Site | Los Angeles Chargers -

5 Takeaways: Bolts Feeling Frustration After Another Close Loss

5T Week 11

The Chargers are 4-6 after Sunday's 23-20 loss to the Packers.

Here are five takeaways from Week 11:

1. A frustrated locker room

The Chargers locker room was quiet Sunday afternoon.

Derwin James, Jr. sat at his locker and chatted softly with Justin Herbert, who had pulled a chair up close.

As other plays got cleaned up after another agonizingly close loss, the same repeated feeling permeated the room.

"Frustrating. Very frustrating," Keenan Allen said. "Just got to find a way to win."

Austin Ekeler said: "All of [the losses] are frustrating. If you lose, we're putting all this work in to make sure we don't do that. It's week to week and if you come out and you fall short, it's the same kind of disappointment."

Eric Kendricks was also asked about the frustration level in the locker room.

"10 out of 10, man," Kendricks said. "We're doing really good things throughout the game.

"Obviously, we could clean up some stuff, but we're doing good things throughout the game to put ourselves in a position to win," Kendricks added. "When it's coming down to it, we're not handling our job."

Sunday's loss to the Packers followed a familiar script for the Bolts in 2023.

To start, it was a three-point loss, marking the fifth loss of the season by three or fewer points.

And it was a game where, once again, the Chargers led late in the fourth quarter but the collective team couldn't make enough plays to get a victory.

"We just did not execute well enough in all three phases to finish the game. That's where we need to focus – on our execution," said Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley. "We had plenty of opportunities today and just didn't capitalize on enough of them to finish the game.

"This is a tough one. We have to put it behind us," Staley added. "We have AFC games in front of us. We have to put our focus to Baltimore."

The Bolts now return home for a huge Week 12 AFC matchup against the Ravens.

"We have to get over it quickly and get back to work. Which we're all capable of doing," Kendricks said. "Stay together for sure, but after these 24 hours, we got to get over it because the Ravens are coming to town and it's a good ball club."

Browse through live action photos of the Bolts Week 11 matchup against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field

2. Bosa leaves due to injury

Joey Bosa's Sunday afternoon consisted of just four plays, as he suffered a foot injury on Green Bay's opening offensive possession.

The outside linebacker was initially listed as questionable to return but was later ruled out. He was seen in the second half on the Chargers sideline in a walking boot and with crutches.

Staley was asked postgame if he had an update on Bosa's status.

"I don't," Staley said.

A pair of Bosa's defensive teammates noted how immense a loss it was to not have Bosa, who has 6.5 sacks on the season, for the majority of the Week 11 contest.

"It sucks, man," Tuli Tuipulotu said. "I wish he was out there. I love watching him play. Just a bummer."

Kendricks added: "Hate to see it. He's a competitor, he was upset. But we had guys step up. Unfortunately, that's the game we play, that's the game we love. Charge it to the game, but it's definitely huge missing him."

If Bosa misses extended time, Tulipulotu is the likely candidate to step in as the starter opposite Khalil Mack, who had 2.0 sacks Sunday.

"Just keep working and do what we do," Tuipulotu said about a possible expanded role.

3. Defense can't hold late lead

The pigskin, and a Chargers win, was on the ground at the Packers 15-yard line.

With less than five minutes to go and the Bolts holding a 20-16 lead, Mack had a strip-sack on Jordan Love that knocked the ball loose deep in Green Bay territory.

But the Chargers, who would have been in prime position to add to their lead, couldn't fall on the ball.

"Those are the plays we need to capitalize on and go ahead and finish these teams because you're going to have to win these games in order to compete in the NFL," Kendricks said. "It's always going to come down to the wire."

The Packers did and eventually scored in what was a maddening sequence for the Bolts defense.

Mack's strip-sack made it third-and-20 but the Bolts committed a defensive pass interference call on the next play.

Then it was 35-yard completion for Green Bay on a simple 5-yard route that featured multiple missed tackles.

And before you knew it, the Packers had scored on a 24-yard pass and taken a lead they wouldn't give up. The Chargers also gave up a 32-yard run for a score earlier in the game.

All in all, the defense continued to give up chunk plays through the air, as the Packers had six passing plays that went for 20 or more yards.

"We haven't found that rhythm consistently enough in the secondary," Staley said. "I thought we did a really good job against the run in this game. I thought we rushed well enough to win. We weren't able to turn them over.

"There's these plays that really hijack our rhythm in the passing game. That's where we have to put our focus, that's where it's been, and until we get that solved consistently, you're going to continue to see results like today because there is a lot of good defense being played out there," Staley added. "You can't foul on third-and-20. You can't cut people loose. You can't miss tackles. We have to play cleaner football."

4. Offense hurt by miscues

The Bolts offense entered Sunday's game with the league second-rank offense in the red zone at 72.4 percent.

But on a day where the offense scored just once on four trips inside the 20-yard line, it made the Chargers shortcomings in that area all the more perplexing.

"I think we just had some missed opportunities," Herbert said. "I though we were in position to score some points and go down there and drive. We just have to execute better.

"It's on us as an offense to be able to take over those situations and score in the redzone like that," Herbert added. "Something that we've talked about all year. But I know we're capable of doing that. It's unfortunate it didn't happen today."

The Chargers first two possessions inside the red zone ended at the 7-yard line, leading to a pair of short field goals from Cameron Dicker.

But the third trip near the goal line was the most glaring, as Austin Ekeler lost a fumble at the 2-yard line when the Bolts trailed by three points early in the fourth quarter.

"I fell down, got up and didn't have the ball secured and fumbled," Ekeler said. "Can't fumble, and we have to get in the end zone."

The Chargers final red-zone possession ended with a touchdown pass from Herbert to Keenan Allen, who finished with yet another 100-yard performance.

"We moved the ball the whole day, but we had a bunch of drops in the game that really inhibited our ability to score the football," Staley said. "Again, we had a fumble, and that was the story. They had one takeaway, we didn't. It happened in the red zone.

"And I think on offense that was the story for us, because we drove the football and moved the football well today," Staley added.

While the Bolts were plagued by multiple drops Sunday, one by Quentin Johnston on the Chargers final possession loomed large.

The rookie wide receiver was open down the right sideline and appeared to have a clear path to the end zone but couldn't hold on.

"Got a pass when the ball was thrown to me, should've caught it. No excuse for it. Lack of concentration on my part," Johnston said. "I feel like the game could've definitely went the other way if I would've caught it that ball. Just a lack of concentration."

He later added: "I'm a receiver, they brought me here for a reason and that's to catch the ball."

Staley said: "We're going to keep going back to him. He's going to be an outstanding player. We love coaching him. Justin's going to continue going to him. The more he plays, the more he's going to be able to knock down opportunities like that."

5. Smartt finds the end zone

The Bolts biggest offensive play of the day came from an unlikely source.

Stone Smartt, who joined the team as an undrafted free agent in 2022, hauled in a 51-yard touchdown for the Bolts longest offensive score of the season.

Smartt said he savored the moment, especially since it came at historic Lambeau Field.

"Excitement. It was surreal," Smartt said. "Dreamed about it as a kid growing up all these years and to finally have the hard work pay off and get in there was great.

"Any chance to score in any stadium, let alone let it be Lambeau, it's dope," Smartt added. "So much history here and just respect of the game. Just trying to be a part of that history."

Smartt's touchdown came a few minutes into the second quarter.

He ran a corner route and caught the ball before shaking off his defender. It was nothing but green grass from there.

"They cut me loose on the corner route, I know that Justin was going to put it there, regardless of the guy," Smartt said. "Just gave me an opportunity to make the play and make something happen with it."

Herbert added: "It was kind of the look we were hoping for. We know how special Stone is as a player and as a ball catcher and what he's able to do after he catches the ball. He made a great play, made a guy miss and took off for the endzone. It was awesome to see from him."

Smartt, who played quarterback in college at Old Dominion, said postgame that the score is validation to the hard work he's been putting in at a somewhat new position.

"Still coming along. It's never easy playing catch up, but that's not an excuse," Smartt said. "We're playing at the highest level so going out there and doing what's expected. You do as the position you're playing. But coming along, still getting there."

Bolt Up!

Secure your Chargers Mini Plan today! Click here to learn more.

Related Content

From Our Partners