Chargers vs. Titans: Takeaways from San Diego's 20-17 Loss to Tennessee
Like they've done multiple times this season, the San Diego Chargers allowed a second-half comeback in a tough loss that was capped off by a late touchdown pass in the final 15 seconds of the game.
The Tennessee Titans scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, led by the steady play of Jake Locker, who finished with 299 yards passing and a pair of scores on the ground and through the air. The Chargers were up, 17-10, in the third quarter, but the offense stalled toward the end of the game and was unable to answer Tennessee's late rally.
The negatives certainly outweighed the positives for San Diego in this one, so here are some of the takeaways from the loss on the road.
Costly Penalties in Second Quarter
The Chargers were driving in the red zone toward the end of the second quarter, but two penalties cost them valuable field position after Keenan Allen was called for offensive pass interference and Philip Rivers picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing the call.
Rivers' penalty was, by far, the worst of the two, and what should have been a potential three points turned into a blocked field goal before halftime. Rivers has never been one to hold back his emotions on the field, but it was a rare mistake by a veteran player.
Inactive List Debacle by Coaching Staff
Donald Butler was bothered by a groin injury the entire week, and while it was clear he wouldn't be playing against Tennessee, the coaching staff was unable to list him as an inactive player before the start of the game.
The late attempt at a switch was denied by the league, according to U-T San Diego's Michael Gehlken, and, in turn, it cost the team a healthy Tourek Williams, who would have been available for a linebackers unit that was down Butler and Manti Te'o.
Undrafted Rookie Making Big Plays on Defense and Special Teams
Jahleel Addae went undrafted out of Central Michigan and was never a guarantee to make the roster for San Diego, but his play through the first three games of the season has been noticeably strong in a limited role.
Addae has nine tackles on the season and made two big plays for the Chargers in the first half against the Titans. Addae upended an airborne Kenny Britt to force an incompletion and made the tackle on Brett Kern after he fumbled the snap on a punt attempt.
Tom Telesco's investment in the rookie has paid off well.
Danny Woodhead Seeing Larger Role on Offense
After catching just two passes in his Week 1 debut against the Houston Texans, Danny Woodhead has seen an increased workload in the past two games.
Woodhead now has 58 yards rushing and 108 receiving on the season and was targeted seven times by Philip Rivers in Sunday's loss to Tennessee. The former New England Patriot was a clutch target for Rivers in moving the chains and has done exactly what the team expected from him thus far.
Defense Hurting Without Two Starters
Jake Locker and Chris Johnson combined for 158 yards rushing against a Chargers defense that was without Shareece Wright and Donald Butler. Locker easily escaped pressure in the pocket and found open space on more than one occasion.
Reggie Walker and Larry English came up with San Diego's two sacks against the Titans, but when Locker had time to throw, he was extremely accurate. It could easily be argued that Butler and Wright would have made a difference in the loss, but it still was a very poor performance by the other starters.
Manti Te'o Misses Third Straight Game
Manti Te'o missed a third straight game for the Chargers with a nagging foot injury that has prevented the second-round pick from making his regular-season debut.
Bront Bird and Reggie Walker combined for eight tackles and a sack in place of San Diego's two injured inside linebackers, which isn't terrible, but certainly not what the team needed from a vital part of its defense.
Butler's absence really hurt the Chargers, but the verdict is still out on Te'o, considering we've only see him play in one preseason game. It's highly unlikely that the rookie out of Notre Dame is the answer on a defense that ranks near the bottom in rushing and passing yards allowed per game, but it wouldn't hurt to see what he can do when healthy.
League's Worst Pass Defense on Display Against Titans
Coming into Sunday's game, the Chargers had the worst pass defense in the NFL and were giving up 370 yards through the air on average.
The defense came pretty close to the 370-yard mark, surrendering 299 yards to Jake Locker, who ended up having his best game of the season. Derek Cox and Eric Weddle managed to deflect some of Locker's passes, but there were a lot of missed tackles on receivers after the catch.
The worst play of the game came in the final 15 seconds when Crezdon Butler, who signed this week with San Diego, was beat by Justin Hunter in the end zone. Butler can't take all the blame, considering he was still adjusting to his new team, but it was a poor attempt in one-on-one coverage by the defensive back.
Offensive Line Suffers Injuries, Mix and Match Starters
Injuries to the offensive line was a big problem last season, especially at tackle, and it appears history is repeating itself for the Chargers after Chad Rinehart and King Dunlap went down with injuries in Sunday's loss to the Titans.
Michael Gehlken reported that Rinehart was diagnosed with turf toe, and Dunlap suffered a concussion. D.J. Fluker, San Diego's starting right tackle, did not play against the Titans and was listed with a concussion as well.
When Dunlap left the game, the offensive line was shifted around with Jeromey Clary returning to right tackle and Michael Harris taking over at left tackle. Johnnie Troutman came in to play left guard, and Rich Ohrnberger filled in at right guard.
The Chargers really don't have depth at offensive line, so it will be interesting to see how it shifts around next week in case the injuries to Fluker, Rinehart and Dunlap hold them out.