Chargers show improvement in race defense against Patriots – San Bernardino Sun
INGLEWOOD – Not much went well for the Chargers on Sunday, but they at least improved their defense against the struggling run in the 27-24 loss to the New England Patriots at SoFi Stadium.
The Chargers’ defense contained the Patriots to 141 rushing yards on 39 carries for an average of 3.6 yards per carry. The Chargers entered Week 8 averaging 162.5 rushing yards per game, the league’s worst.
The return of defensive tackle Justin Jones was instrumental in improving the Chargers against the run. Jones had not played since the season opener over Washington due to a calf injury.
“That wasn’t what caused us to lose the game today,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said of the run defense. “I felt like our race defense took an incredible step forward today. I thought we did very well. I thought we were really physical. Getting Justin Jones back was important. I feel like the way we played in defense today gave us a real chance to win.
The Chargers’ defense had plenty of saves to keep the game close in the fourth quarter, but offensive struggles kept the Patriots away. The Patriots scored 11 points on two interceptions by defenseman Adrian Phillips against quarterback Justin Herbert.
Chargers safety Derwin James made 13 total tackles and a forced fumble which was recovered by safety Nasir Adderley. But the Chargers offense did not take the help of the defense.
JACKSON’S LONG RUN
Staley and running back Austin Ekeler challenged other running backs to step up this week.
Justin Jackson responded with a 75-yard run in the second quarter to prepare for the Chargers’ second touchdown against the Patriots. It was the second longest race for a Charger in the past decade. Former Chargers running back Melvin Gordon hit an 87-yard touchdown in New England in 2017.
Jackson, however, suffered a quad injury and finished with 79 yards on three carries. As a team, the Chargers had a productive rushing performance with 163 yards.
Ekeler, who was questionable with a pre-game hip injury, had 64 yards on 11 carries with one touchdown and six catches for 60 yards. It was the fifth time this season that he had exceeded 100 total yards in scrum.
Patriots punt returner Gunner Olszewski put in an outstanding performance against the Chargers for the second straight season.
Olszewski recorded 80 yards on four punt returns on Sunday. Last season, Olszewski amassed 145 yards on three punt returns in the Patriots’ 45-0 blowout against the Chargers.
“I saw them beat us decisively in this phase,” Staley said of the punt cover. “Gunner had 20 yards per return. We have lost the vertical field position in this area. … We didn’t cover enough today.
The Chargers were deprived of their two best outside cornerbacks for most of the second half.
Asante Samuel Jr. left with a concussion and Michael Davis came out with a hamstring injury. Tevaughn Campbell and Ryan Smith replaced the outside cornerback.
“A lot of guys came in and did what they could to help when these guys fell,” James said.