The Chargers Were an Organizational Embarrassment Against the Patriots

Ryan Phillips
Anthony Lynn, New England Patriots v Los Angeles Chargers
Anthony Lynn, New England Patriots v Los Angeles Chargers / Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images
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Anthony Lynn and the Los Angeles Chargers were absolutely dismantled by an average New England Patriots squad on Sunday, as Bill Belichick's boys secured a 45-0 win at SoFi Stadium. It was the kind of defeat that reverberates for a long time. It was as embarrassing a loss as any NFL team has suffered this season.

Lynn will likely be gone after a few more games, but this rot goes much deeper than him. The Chargers were expected to contend for a playoff spot this year and are currently 3-9. The only bright spot on the season has been the play of rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, but even he was horrid on Sunday. Herbert completed 26 of 53 passes (49 percent) for 209 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Chargers were outgained by the Patriots 291 to 258 on Sunday, which shouldn't have led to such a lopsided score. Cam Newton completed 12 of 19 passes for 69 yards, in what wasn't exactly a vintage performance. But Herbert threw those two interceptions, while LA also gave up a 70-yard punt return for a score and had a field goal blocked and returned for a touchdown to end the first half. The Bolts were so bad on special teams that Patriots return man Gunner Olszewski had three punt returns for 145 yards. That's an insane 48.3 yards per return.

While Lynn has clearly lost the locker room, the blame for this season has to reach higher. Let's not forget, the Chargers gave their coach a contract extension in February coming off a 5-11 season. It was a decision that didn't make a lick of sense at the time. The problem is, most decisions in Los Angeles are made by John Spanos -- the son of owner Dean Spanos -- and general manager Tom Telesco, neither of whom are going anywhere.

Even Lynn's best season (2018) ended in embarrassment. The Chargers went 12-4, won a first-round playoff game, then got hammered in the Divisional Round by -- surprise! -- the Patriots, 41-28. That score makes the contest seem close, but the Pats led 35-7 at the half and the Bolts scored a few garbage time touchdowns to make it seem closer. Humiliation finds you when you're a terrible franchise.

The Chargers have long been one of the worst-run organizations in sports, and the Lynn contract extension was a perfect example of that. The higher-ups love to reward underachieving head coaches they can control, as they did with Norv Turner and Mike McCoy for years. In fact, Marty Schottenheimer was the team's last good head coach and he was fired after a 14-2 season because he wouldn't kowtow to management and wanted the freedom to hire his own coaching staff. Despite a wealth of talent and a Hall of Fame quarterback (Philip Rivers), the franchise has won four playoff games in the 13-plus years since firing Schottenheimer.

Part of the reason Herbert has been so successful as a rookie has been the weapons at his disposal. Keenan Allen is a legitimate No. 1 receiver, Hunter Henry is a top-tier tight end, Mike Williams is one of the NFL's top big-play wideouts and LA has a few solid running backs. Plenty of quarterbacks would kill for that arsenal but the Chargers just can't win games. The defense doesn't give up a ton of yards but it ranked 25th in the NFL in points allowed (27.3) entering this week. That number got worse on Sunday, and is now up to 28.8. When it counts, the defense is softer than wet Wonder Bread.

From top to bottom, the Chargers just aren't a winning organization. Ownership is terrible, the front office consistently puts the wrong people in charge and the foundations are soft and always shifting. The result is what we saw on Sunday as a rock-solid franchise went to LA and embarrassed a bad one. This wasn't just one game, it was the culmination of years of ineptitude.

The Chargers need to make massive structural changes to their organization or these embarrassments will keep on coming.

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