Missed Tackles Continue to Haunt Chargers Defense

The Chargers defense has struggled to wrap up ball-carriers this season.

When this season began, the Chargers defense included six new starters. General manager Tom Telesco spent more money this offseason than he has in any of his previous nine years at the helm with the focus this year being to retool the defense in hope for an improvement.

Now 12 games in the books, the results haven’t come close to the expectations when the team overhauled a large portion of the defensive unit.

Injuries have undoubtedly played a factor, but players and coaches haven’t pointed to that as an excuse but rather, they’ve voiced their concerns about the team’s lack of execution.

The Chargers were one of the worst team’s in stopping the run last season, and in 2022, they aren’t much different. Opposing teams have ran for over 150 yards in seven of their last eight games, including three times in which their opposition has gone over the 200-yard threshold.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley expressed his frustration regarding missed tackles following the team’s 27-20 loss to the Raiders Sunday at Allegiant Stadium. The Chargers were unable to contain Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, who finished the game with 144 rushing yards and one touchdown, while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. 

“I thought that we missed some tackles in the second half, which led to most of his yards,” Staley said of his defense pursuing Jacobs. “I thought that we were in good run structures, but missing tackles which he does, he forces people to miss. 

“We had to defend a lot of plays there in the second half, but our guys are up for it. We need to get more than one guy there at the tackle because he does break tackles.”

Jacobs forced 12 missed tackles against the Chargers in Week 13, according to Pro Football Focus, marking a season-high for the Raiders rusher. He also leads the league with 76 forced missed tackles, and the Chargers got a taste of that at firsthand.

“He’s the leading rusher. He’s gotta be doing something right,” safety Derwin James said of Jacobs. “But we still had chances to make plays. First half, we came out to a great start but in that third quarter, I feel like is when the game kind of took a swing.”

As the game went on, the missed tackles grew in quantity. The Chargers defense has been subject to 117 missed tackles this season, tied for the fifth-worst in the NFL, per PFF.

“It’s just going to come down to covering and tackling better,” Staley said. “It certainly changes the game when you give them up. That was the story, the explosions, because there were a lot of really good plays there in the heart of that game, but the big ones were big for them yesterday.”

Now with a 6-6 record, the Chargers will look to make the defensive improvements against a high-flying Dolphins offense under the bright lights of Sunday Night Football at SoFi Stadium.

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Read more from Charger Report:

Chargers’ Path to the Playoffs Take a Hit Following Loss to RaidersTakeaways From Chargers’ 27-20 Week 13 Loss to RaidersChargers’ Banged Up Offensive Line Overwhelmed in 27-20 Loss to RaidersLive In-Game Updates: Chargers at Raiders Week 13Pregame Report: Chargers at Raiders Week 13

Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.

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