Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Drue Tranquill, who’s been sidelined since Week One with a broken fibula, said it best.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” he said in a Tweet Sunday.
The “definition of insanity” cliché certainly applies to the current scenario in Southern California. The Chargers (2-5) surrendered yet another double-digit lead, this time 21 points, in Sunday’s 31-30 loss to the Denver Broncos.
If you’re reading this you surely know the stats that are about to be regurgitated, but let’s take a moment to observe the historic incompetence of this football team.
By the numbers
The Chargers have played seven games. They’ve led in all seven. They’re 2-5. They’re 0-3 in games in which they’ve been ahead by at least 17 points. The rest of the NFL is 52-4.
The Chargers have blown five double-digit leads.
LA led by 11 against Kansas City, 17 against Tampa Bay and New Orleans and 21 against Denver. The Chargers lost all four of those games. They also took a 16 point advantage to start the game against the Jaguars, which was squandered when the Jags came back to take a third-quarter lead.
All five of the Chargers’ losses have come by seven-or-less points. This isn’t a new trend. Since the start of last season, LA is now 3-14 in one-score-games.
Inexcusable and inexplicable
The pattern isn’t coincidental. It’s not based on a string of bad luck or caused by the devastating injuries leveed on the Chargers in recent history.
These losses are about coaching. That’s it.
Yes, the injuries are crucial. The Chargers have lost key members of the offensive line, Derwin James, Austin Ekeler and even Joey Bosa for the end of the Denver game. Those add up. The defense isn’t the same without James and the offense is flatter without Ekeler.
But even without these players, the Chargers don’t have trouble building huge leads. The defense comes out swinging, as it did to start Sunday’s game.
Broncos quarterback Drew Lock was 9-of-15 for 58 yards in the first half. Their offense was stagnant. The Chargers’ front seven got consistent pressure and the secondary played great coverage on a lackluster receiving corps.
The Chargers defense showed no cracks until a 55-yard Phillip Lindsay touchdown run with 6 minutes left in the third quarter. That’s when it all came tumbling down.
The fourth quarter was full of untimely penalties and conservative defensive play calling. It was a team playing not-to-lose. That’s not on the players.
“Scared money don’t make none”
As we’ve seen four times in four weeks, the Chargers’ second-half game-planning is weak.
The Chargers are going to run the ball on first and second down, then pass on third. On defense, they’re going to play a soft zone and rush four. No blitzing and not a lot of man defense.
Head coach Anthony Lynn will rarely take a risk. LA has attempted just seven fourth-down conversions this season, 8th-least in the NFL. Even on those seven tries, they’ve converted just twice. The play-calling is often uninspired, with just a simple run down the middle or quick slant.
Schematics aside, what’s currently brewing in LA right now is a losing mentality. Watching that game, you knew exactly what was coming next when Phillip Lindsay torched the Chargers defense on that long TD run.
With the lead now at 24-10, a pit formed in the throat of every Chargers fan. We know how this movie ends because it’s on repeat every week.
And if the fans can recognize it, players on both teams do too.
Look back at Drue Tranquill’s tweet. He said it himself, what’s happening to LA is the definition of insanity. The same things happen time and time again.
Thoughts inevitably came into the mind of the Chargers on the sidelines watching that Lindsay TD. As Nasir Adderley chased Lindsay to the end zone, he had to have known what was coming next: “is this really happening again?”
The same phenomenon happens on the other side. If you give the opponent an ounce of hope, they’ll exploit it.
When the Broncos went into the locker room down 14-3 at halftime, what do you think they talked about? Did they believe they were out of the game or was it still winnable?
Compare that to a game against, say, the Kansas City Chiefs. If you’re down 11 at the half to that team, all hope must be lost. The players aren’t going to be jacked coming out in the second half to get back into that football game. They know that Patrick Mahomes is still going to throw the ball all over them and that lead is going to grow.
The definition of insanity
For the sake of confidence and mentality with a young squad, the Chargers need to make changes. The players aren’t the problem. The quarterback is special and the defense, when healthy, is dominant.
If you do the same things over and over, the results aren’t going to change. At this point, the only way to fix this issue is making changes at the top.
Hope you enjoyed this week’s Chargers game recap. Austin covers the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Chargers for OT Heroics. Follow him on Twitter @AustinTurner_.
For more coverage on the NFL, check out the rest of the great content at Overtime Heroics.
Find OTH merch powered by teespring here.