COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Chargers find themselves in a familiar spot after the first week of the NFL season — 0-1 and trying to make sure the season doesn’t go off the rails.
As much as coach Anthony Lynn and his team have tried to deflect questions about last year’s 0-4 start, those reminders are bound to come up again this week as they prepare for Sunday’s game at Buffalo.
The Chargers are 5-9 in September since 2014, which is the third-worst mark in the AFC.
Quarterback Philip Rivers, who threw for 424 yards Sunday, said after the 38-28 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs that this team is better equipped to bounce back compared to previous seasons.
“I think last year at that point we were still a little bit snake-bit of how we lost too many games the previous two years,” Rivers said. “It was kind of a little bit the same old story to start out last season and then we kind of got rid of that. I feel like we kind of got rid of that the last 12 games last year.
“We still have to go do it, but there’s so many good things that we did today, other than score, which is the most important, that gives me all the confidence in the world that this could be an awesome season.”
Lynn said Monday that the biggest takeaways from the loss were the four drops in the passing game. Running back Melvin Gordon had two while wide receivers Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams had one each.
“It’s very uncharacteristic. I have not seen that out of our group, at all, but it showed up yesterday,” Lynn said. “Maybe they were pressing. Maybe after you drop one ball, they felt pressed to make the next catch. I’m not sure.”
Gordon, who had 102 yards on nine receptions, said on one of the drops that he didn’t get his head around fast enough to see the ball.
Despite the drops and going 3 for 11 on third down, Lynn was mostly pleased with the offense’s performance. The Chargers had 541 yards, though 244 came in the fourth quarter when they had the ball for nearly 11 minutes and the Chiefs were well ahead.
The running game with Gordon and Austin Ekeler averaged 5.6 yards per carry and they combined for 14 receptions for 189 yards.
“Those guys have two different skill sets. I like it when they can attack a defense with those skills out of the backfield receiving the ball or running on the perimeter or inside,” Lynn said.
Right tackle Joe Barksdale’s status remains uncertain after he injured his left knee during the first quarter. Sam Tevi took Barksdale’s place and would get the start if Barksdale is out this week.
Defensive end Joey Bosa also remains week-to-week after missing Sunday’s game due to a foot injury. Isaac Rochell was in for all but five of the defense’s 56 plays and ended up with four tackles.
Lynn said Buffalo’s decision on whether Nathan Peterman or Josh Allen starts at quarterback will have no bearing on the overall defensive game plan. The Chargers had great success against Peterman in last year’s game, intercepting him five times in the first half of a 52-24 victory.
“If we’re facing Peterman, we will try to get after him again like we did last year,” Lynn said. “I think of those five interceptions that Joey Bosa was hitting him on four of them. We have to figure out how to apply some pressure to that young man and play our game.”