Here are five top lessons learned from the Chargers' 38-28 loss to the Chiefs.
1. Uncharacteristic Drops – All three phases were plagued by self-inflicted miscues, and on offense, the Bolts lamented several uncharacteristic drops. Head Coach Anthony Lynn counted four total drops, including a deep ball to Travis Benjamin late in the first half that would have led to points and ones by Benjamin and Tyrell Williams in the end zone. Philip Rivers was able to guide the Bolts up and down the field with ease as their 541 yards of total offense were the most in the NFL. However, all that matters in the end are those yards resulting in points, and the team's drops proved costly as they all occurred deep in Chiefs' territory. Those drops were top of mind for Keenan Allen after the game:
"Just a lot of plays that we left out on the field. (We) shot ourselves in the foot. (There was) bad execution. We just have to clean some things up ... (Our drops were) very uncharacteristic. We just have to clean it up. It happens. We just have to move on."
2. Weapons Galore – As noted above, the Bolts offense was rolling as they seemingly marched down the field at will. Everyone played their part, showing just how dangerous Rivers and company can be this year. Two players had over 100 yards receiving in Keenan Allen (108) and Melvin Gordon (102). Meanwhile, another pair had at least 80 yards in Austin Ekeler (87) and Mike Williams (81). Allen, Ekeler and Tyrell Williams were all on the receiving end of touchdown passes from Philip Rivers, who finished the game with the sixth-most passing yards in his career (424). The Chargers were also equally effective on the ground. Gordon carried the ball 15 times for 64 yards (4.3 ypc) while Ekeler had five totes for 39 yards (7.8 ypc). Overall, the Chargers averaged 5.6 yards per carry while churning out 123 yards on 22 carries. Rivers has been a part of several explosive offenses, and it's clear he believes this team can be right there with the best of them:
"We have so many guys, as you saw today, that will have a ton of opportunities to help. Keenan went over 100 yards today in receiving, but really, if you make all the throws and the catches that we had, we may have had three or four guys over 100 yards receiving, including Melvin. It's one of those games that you're sick that you let it get away because you didn't make all the plays that you really dream about making. … I think that's what makes me love this group. That we can all stand and look at each other and say who should have made what play and who shouldn't have. That's good. I'm super fired up about this year because there's not going to be many times you can miss four touchdowns and turn the ball over down the red zone, drop a punt inside the 10, get a 90-yard punt return on you and really, all that said, it should have been a three-point game with three timeouts left with a minute to play. We're going to be just fine."
3. Improvement Needed on Specials – It was a day to largely forget on special teams as they essentially handed the Chiefs 14 points. The first came on a 91-yard punt return that Tyreek Hill ran to the house on the fourth play from scrimmage. The second came early in the fourth quarter after the Chargers got a much-needed stop after cutting the score to 31-20. JJ Jones muffed a punt deep in his own territory, picked it up but then fumbled it again as the Chiefs pounced on it at the two-yard line. Meanwhile, Caleb Sturgis made his first two field goal attempts from 45 and 35 yards but missed a 50 yarder with under two minutes remaining to end any hopes for a comeback. Nonetheless, Head Coach Anthony Lynn remains confident with the team's special teams units. Take Jones for example. While he had a costly mistake, the head coach explained why the Bolts still have full faith in him:
"JJ has been back there all preseason and has done a heck of a job. He's a physical runner. He's fast. He's handled the ball extremely well, and today he just made a bad mistake … (JJ) made this team because he can score points. We're looking for guys who can score points. That's pretty important, so just because he made one mistake does not mean we're going to give up on that young man."
4. Where's the Pass Rush? – After authoring one of their best seasons in over two decades by allowing just 17.0 points per game, the Bolts gave up 38 to the Chiefs. Now, not all of that is on the defense. Seven points came on a punt return and another came after Kansas City gained possession at the Bolts' two-yard line. Nonetheless, the defense did give up too many chunk plays. Limiting big plays was a hallmark of Gus Bradley's unit a year ago, yet on Sunday they surrendered four plays over 30 yards, including a 58-yard touchdown. The Bolts were one of the best in the league a year ago at getting to the passer, yet only managed one sack when Derwin James got to Patrick Mahomes in the second quarter. After the game, Lynn stressed how the team has to do a better job getting to the QB:
"There were times we put some pressure on him, but it wasn't enough. When we did, he moved around and made a play. Anytime we gave him a chance to extend plays, he's (comfortable). He did that all through his college days. We just didn't get enough pressure on him."
5. Can't Let Loss Linger – Absolutely nobody was happy in the Chargers' locker room after the loss. However, they did keep the defeat in perspective. It's only one game, and after Monday night, sans the Steelers-Browns ties, half the teams in the league are 1-0 while the other half is 0-1. It may sound like a cliché, but the NFL truly is a marathon, not a sprint. As Rivers explained, the only thing this loss means is they can't go undefeated. To that end, the Bolts know they can still accomplish all their goals, but they can't let this loss linger and affect their preparation for Week 2's game against the Bills. Leave it to Rivers to perfectly explain the team's approach:
"I'm not much of a cycling fan but I compare the NFL season to the Tour de France. It's all the stages, and that's what the NFL season is to me. There are 16 stages you get. You make sure you better win your fair share of them. It's a long deal. We're down. We're down after the first phase and we have a chance in Buffalo to go get a win and go 1-1."
Five Tips to Increase Your Tissue Mobility in the Morning
- Upward Stretch - Raise your arms toward the sky by lacing your fingers together and raising your hands above your head with your palms facing forward. You can do this seated or standing. Hold for 20-30 seconds and think about elongating your spine as you stretch.
- Spinal Twist - This stretch should be done carefully and slowly. Don't force any positions and just allow your body to move to a comfortable position. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly let your knees fall toward the floor until a gentle stretch is felt in your spine. Hold for 10 seconds, return to your starting position and then go the opposite direction. Repeat this a few times.
- Hamstring stretch - Lay on your back and with both hands, grab your thigh and slowly bring your leg towards you. This should not create pain in your low back or sharp/shooting pain down your leg. If it does, do not perform. You should feel a slight stretch in the back of your thigh.
- Hip Flexor Stretch - With one knee in a kneeling position and the opposite leg in a forward lunge position, squeeze your gluteals with your spine in a "tall" position and slightly and slowly thrust your hips forward. You should feel this stretch in the front of your hip. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
- Doorway Stretch - While standing, position your arms as a field goal post and rest your forearms on the sides of the door frame with your legs in staggered stance position. Slightly lean forward until you feel a light stretch in the front of your shoulder/chest. Try not to lean your neck forward or excessively arch your low back. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
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