CB DeJuan Tribble (Scott Boehm/Getty)
The Chargers took the field against the St. Louis Rams without eight of their 11 regular offensive starters. By game’s end, that fact became painfully obvious. The Chargers mustered only six points, all of them coming off first-quarter turnovers, in a sloppy 7-6 loss to one of the NFL’s cellar-dwellers.
The Chargers looked sharp coming out of the gates, ending the Rams’ first two drives with interceptions by Antoine Cason and Cletis Gordon, respectively. The offense couldn’t do much with the field position, however, settling for a pair of Nate Kaeding field goals.
The offense was horrific throughout the evening, failing to sustain drives as the Rams built more than a 12-minute advantage in time of possession. Much of this disparity can be explained by San Diego’s shortcomings on third down, where the team converted just one of 10 opportunities.
Another issue was pass protection, with the Chargers allowing four sacks. Jeromey Clary clearly lost his cool in his matchup with Leonard Little, giving up one sack off the edge and committing a false start in anticipation of another strong rush by Little. The rest of the line wasn’t much better, especially against the blitz.
The offense wasn’t the only culprit. The defense struggled against the run for the second consecutive week, allowing the Rams to run 38 times for 183 yards (4.8 avg).
The defense was playing with less than half of its starters, as well, but even some regular contributors played poorly. Matt Wilhelm and Jyles Tucker, especially, had a hard time getting off blocks and bringing down second-year back Antonio Pittman, who rang up 67 yards on just nine carries (7.4 avg).
The Chargers will look to redeem themselves on Aug. 25 when they host the reigning NFC West Champions, the Seattle Seahawks.
--Billy Volek made good decisions, completing five of seven passes for 58 yards. Although he failed to get his team into the end zone, he protected the football despite getting poor pass protection and little help from the running game.
--Rookie FB Mike Tolbert was impressive again, seemingly cementing his place on the active roster. He eliminates his targets as a run-blocker and looks agile in space as a receiver out of the backfield. He finished with six total touches for 28 yards.
--Cason and Gordon played for the bulk of the game and looked spectacular. The Rams eventually relented and did the majority of their damage with short passes or throws over the middle.