Staley gets defensive after Chargers squander 4th-quarter lead, lose to Packers
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The most inspired defense the Los Angeles Chargers offered Sunday came during coach Brandon Staley’s postgame news conference.
After the Chargers’ defense let them down once again in a 23-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Staley was asked — not for the first time — whether he’d consider giving up play-calling responsibilities on that side of the ball.
The former Rams defensive coordinator gave an impassioned argument on his own behalf.
“I have full confidence in our way of playing,” Staley said. “Full confidence in myself as the play-caller and the way that we teach and the way that we scheme. Full confidence in that. We’ve got to bring this group together and do it consistently and that’s where it’s at. You can stop asking that question. I’m going to be calling the defenses, so we’re clear. So you don’t have to ask that again.”
Plenty of other questions remain about a defense that was allowing the second-most yards per game of any NFL team even before the Chargers couldn’t protect a fourth-quarter lead at Lambeau Field.
And now the Chargers might have to try to fix their problems without Joey Bosa. He was carted off the field after injuring a foot on the game’s opening series, and Staley didn’t have a postgame update on the five-time Pro Bowl pass rusher.
“It sucks, man,” linebacker Tuli Tuipulotu said. “I wish he was out there. I love watching him play. It’s just a bummer.”
This latest defensive breakdown came against a pedestrian offense. Los Angeles allowed Jordan Love to throw for 322 yards, the first time any Packers quarterback had reached the 300-yard mark since Aaron Rodgers’ 341-yard performance in a victory over the Chicago Bears on Dec. 12, 2021. The Packers also snapped a string of seven consecutive games in which they failed to exceed 20 points.
Once again, the Chargers couldn't protect a lead.
Justin Herbert's 10-yard touchdown pass to Keenan Allen put Los Angeles ahead 20-16 with 5:24 remaining. But Asante Samuel Jr. was flagged for pass interference on third-and-20, ruining a potential three-and-out. That sparked a 75-yard drive by the Packers for the decisive touchdown.
“We haven’t found that rhythm consistently in the secondary right now,” Staley said. “I thought we did a really good job against the run in this game. I thought we rushed well enough to win. We weren’t able to turn them over, and there’s these plays that really hijack our rhythm in the passing game.
“That’s where we need to put our focus, that’s where it’s been and until we get that solved consistently, you’re going to continue to see results like today because there’s a lot of good defense being played out there. But you can’t foul on third-and-20, you can’t let people loose, you can’t miss tackles. We’ve got to play cleaner football.”
Love said he took advantage of some confusion in the Chargers' secondary on his go-ahead, 24-yard touchdown pass to Romeo Doubs.
“We went quick, and the defense, they were kind of scrambling to get set and figure out who was over there,” Love said. “I think they only had one DB in there and they were running somebody over late.”
Staley said the loss wasn't all on the defense, and he had a point.
The Chargers entered Sunday ranked second in the NFL in red-zone touchdown percentage, but they lost a fumble on second-and-goal at the 2 and settled for short field goals on two other trips inside Green Bay’s 10-yard line. The offense had the ball twice after Doubs’ go-ahead touchdown but failed to score.
“There are a lot of other things that caused us to lose today,” Staley said. “It certainly wasn’t our defense. It was the way that we played as a team.”
But it’s the defense that has let the Chargers down most often during another outstanding season from Herbert.
“There do need to be changes, and I say that with our mindset as players,” safety Derwin James said. “We need to change our mindset, and we need to go out there and execute. We play hard, that’s why the game’s so close, but it comes down to execution, those one, two, three plays that we’re just missing. We need to go out as players and get it fixed.”
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL