Potential Chargers playoff run has been a running problem


A Chargers defense that has struggled to stop the run will now face a back who topped 100 yards Sunday.

And Josh Jacobs did that just in overtime.

Jacobs lifted Las Vegas to a 40-34 victory at Seattle with an 86-yard touchdown run midway through the extra session. For the game, he totaled 229 yards — a Raiders franchise record — in 33 attempts.

At the same time, the Chargers were having all sorts of issues trying to contain James Conner and corral Kyler Murray in a 25-24 win at Arizona.

“We had to tackle better,” coach Brandon Staley said Monday. “We missed some tackles that contributed to some big gains, or bigger gains. It’s just playing team defense. Our tackling on the perimeter was at the heart of a lot of the plays.”

The Cardinals amassed 181 yards rushing, topped by Conner’s 120. Arizona had three runs that went for at least 18 yards. Murray added 56 yards in seven carries.

The Chargers survived when their defense tightened in the fourth quarter and their offense put together the one touchdown drive that was necessary to win. The Cardinals had 15 rushing yards in six tries over the final 15 minutes.

“They were trying to get the ball to the perimeter,” Staley said. “I thought that our fits inside were fine. The balls were on the edge. That’s where we got hurt.”

Cornerback Bryce Callahan had a team-high four missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. Safety Derwin James Jr. had two and defensive lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day and edge rusher Khalil Mack had one apiece.

The Chargers have surrendered at least 157 rushing yards in five consecutive games to fall to 28th in the NFL. The Seahawks are 29th after Jacobs buried them with his feet.

Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (28) ran 33 times against the Seahawks for 229 yards and two touchdowns.

(Ben VanHouten / Associated Press)

Staley explained that each game presents different matchup challenges. He praised his defense for holding Arizona to 185 yards passing and generally limiting the explosive gains through the air.

But he also admitted the Chargers’ run defense hasn’t been good enough, even with the long-term injuries — Joey Bosa, Austin Johnson, Christian Covington, Otito Ogbonnia — that have impacted the operation.

“We need to play better up front in the run game, and that’s all 11 guys,” Staley said. “It’s not just the front. … You can fit the run perfectly — you know, an eight-man fit, perfectly fit — and the ball gets to the corner and he has to make a tackle.

“What we have to try to do is create as many two-on-ones in the run game where there are two guys on the ball, so that it doesn’t come down to a secondary player because that minimizes gains, yards after contact.”

Yielding an average of 5.4 yards per rushing attempt, the Chargers are last in the NFL. Conner became the sixth opponent to top 100 yards on the ground against them.

Jacobs has had back-to-back 100-yard games and finished Sunday with 303 yards from scrimmage. The Raiders are 4-1 when he reaches 100 rushing yards and 0-6 when he doesn’t.

The ground hasn’t been a particularly productive space for the Chargers on offense, either. They rank 30th and have had just one game with more than 115 rushing yards.

On Sunday, their running backs had a season-low nine carries for 27 yards. Their leading rusher was quarterback Justin Herbert, who finished with 38 yards in four attempts.

The Chargers gained 238 yards on the ground in a Week 5 victory at Cleveland. They’ve averaged barely 70 rushing yards in their other 10 games.

Still, Staley said the running attack has been productive enough to positively affect a passing game that ranks sixth in the NFL.

“Right now, we’re at a stage where the output in the running game hasn’t been effective from a statistical standpoint,” Staley said. “But I think that the way that we have tried to run the ball and commit to running the ball has allowed us to play a certain way in the passing game.”

Etc.

Corey Linsley is in concussion protocol, Staley said. The 2021 Pro Bowl center left the game Sunday in the second quarter and did not return. … Right tackle Trey Pipkins III also was unable to finish the game after re-aggravating his left knee sprain. The Chargers won’t know about Pipkins’ availability against the Raiders until later this week.



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