How to fix Chargers: Run defense is Brandon Staley’s biggest problem, not game management

The Los Angeles Chargers have a franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert, who is off to the greatest start for a quarterback in NFL history. Herbert has the most passing yards (9,150) and passing touchdowns (69) through a player’s first two seasons ever, yet has yet to make a playoff start despite his record-setting numbers. 

That’s no fault of Herbert, who is just 15-17 in his two seasons starting for the Chargers. Los Angeles has plenty of issues that have prevented Herbert from making that coveted playoff start, even if the Chargers are on the right path toward becoming a contender in the AFC. Those issues were evident in the Week 18 loss to the Las Vegas raiders, and coach Brandon Staley will have to correct them heading into Year 2. 

This offseason will be a big one for Staley, who has been under fire all season for his over-aggressiveness and his analytical decisions. General manager Tom Telesco will also be under the microscope as he will seek to reshape this roster into a playoff contender in the talented AFC West (the Chargers finished third in the division). 

The Chargers don’t have to fix much, but there are some glaring issues on this roster that need to be addressed. 

Improve the run defense

The Chargers run defense was the team’s biggest problem throughout the season, allowing over 100 yards on the ground in 12 of 17 games. Los Angeles was 30th in the NFL in run defense, allowing 138.8 rushing yards per game — including 174 in the Week 18 loss to the Raiders that took them out of the playoffs. 

Think about this: Brandon Staley called timeout with the Raiders trying to run the clock out to get the right personnel on the field — and the Chargers still gave up a big run to Josh Jacobs that set up the winning field goal for the Raiders. Los Angeles allowed 4.6 yards per carry on the year (28th in the NFL) and 22 touchdowns (29th in NFL), showcasing the run defense needs…

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