Chargers news: Even amid a phenomenal season from rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, the Los Angeles Chargers find themselves near the bottom of the NFL standings. After years of collapsing in clutch situations, a change could be looming.
Los Angeles came into the season with a shot at competing for a playoff spot. While a myriad of injuries hasn’t helped, the team’s biggest problem is its inability to close games in the final minutes.
As the team heads into a Week 13 matchup against the New England Patriots, head coach Anthony Lynn might be running out of time to turn things around.
Chargers news: Anthony Lynn firmly on the hot seat
Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer said in his mailbag this week that it’s fair to say Anthony Lynn is fighting for his job in the final five weeks of the NFL season. After signing him to a one-year extension this offseason, he is still firmly on the hot seat.
Lynn took over in Los Angeles before the 2017 season and the team found instant success. After a 9-7 campaign in 2017, the Chargers went 12-4 the following season. However, things unraveled in 2019. Between injuries and a disastrous record in one-score games, 2-9, the team finished 5-11.
Los Angeles nailed its 2020 first-round pick, with Herbert running away with Offensive Rookie of the Year and playing like a future All-Pro quarterback. Despite his stellar play, the Chargers are 3-8 and hold a 2-7 record in one-score games.
The team’s inability to come through in clutch situations and the recurring trend of fourth-quarter blunders has cost the Chargers dearly. We saw it most recently against the Buffalo Bills in Week 12.
On fourth-and-27 from their 43-yard line, Herbert completed a Hail Mary to Tyron Johnson, putting Los Angeles at the two-yard line with 40 seconds left. Trailing 27-17, Lynn took the ball out of Herbert’s hands and ran the football with Austin Ekeler. The play failed, leaving Herbert with eight seconds left and two quick pass attempts failed and Los Angeles lost by 10.
Chargers news: Anthony Lynn is hurting the team’s offense
It was another instance of Lynn’s team collapsing in big moments and further proof that he is too dependent on the running game. Herbert is averaging the third-most passing yards per start (301.5)and has a stellar quarterback rating (100.9). Yet, time and time again, Lynn commits to his running game.
Keep in mind, the Chargers have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL and are averaging the fourth-lowest yards per carry (3.8) this season. Lynn, who has coached running backs in the NFL since 2003, still can’t escape his tendencies.
Herbert kept games close in battles with the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The rookie is taking advantage of a great receiving corps, spreading the football around and proving he can compete with the NFL’s top quarterbacks.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been enough nearly every Sunday. While injuries on defense and a porous offensive line carry some of the blame, the Chargers have proven they can’t be trusted in the fourth quarter. After two years of the same problems repeating, with fans reliving the same nightmare every week, the blame has to fall on Lynn.
The Chargers will likely give Lynn the remainder of the season, but it’s evident his time could be drawing to a close. Los Angeles can’t afford to waste an All-Pro talent at quarterback, especially with the strong supporting cast around him.
If the team fires Lynn at the end of the season, expect another offensive-minded head coach to come in. An offense with Herbert, Ekeler, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams will capture the attention of Eric Bieniemy, Arthur Smith, Joe Brady and many other coaching candidates.