Chargers play Texans facing adversity at place of past failure

The performance was the most memorable of a season that didn’t die in the final game until the final game of overtime.

It was so unforgettable that the Chargers haven’t forgotten it to this day.

“Oh, yeah, you remember,” linebacker Drue Tranquill said. “Trust me, you remember.”

In possession of their post-season fate, the 2021 Chargers traveled to Houston for a Week 16 matchup of the COVID-19-hit teams. They were promptly defeated in force by the Texans’ then three victories, 41-29.

On Sunday, the 2022 Chargers travel back to NRG Stadium, this time riddled with injuries as they look to prove their playoff dignity anywhere.

“I think we’re all internally motivated,” Tranquill said. “I don’t think we need external things. But I’m sure you remember what happened and what you have to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

If ever a team needed to get healthy, it’s these Chargers, suffering a four-touchdown loss at home that saw two Pro Bowlers – edge rusher Joey Bosa and left tackle Rashawn Slater – and their fastest wideout – Jalen Guyton – have lost .

Quarterback Justin Herbert is also playing with a fractured rib cartilage that appears to be improving but remains an issue.

“The more repetitions I throw with it, the better I feel,” said Herbert on Friday. “This week was good to be able to throw a little bit more. progress has been made. It has yet to heal…but the recovery and treatment have been good.”

Herbert will be without his favorite target Keenan Allen, the veteran wide receiver who will miss his third straight game with a hamstring injury. Backup tight end Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring) will also not play.

The ailing body parts have raised questions about the Chargers’ and their medical staff’s training habits, prompting Staley to recently ask, well, curses.

“Curses are part of your imagination,” he said. “When you talk about such subjects, that’s exactly what someone wants you to believe. You change that by joining forces with the right people who don’t believe that, who aren’t affected by challenges, obstacles and adversity.”

On the plus side, the Chargers plan to return center Corey Linsley (knee) and cornerback JC Jackson (ankle), both Pro Bowlers and key players Sunday, if that team is going to fulfill its potential.

“There’s still a lot of faith in that locker room,” Tranquill said. “We had some extreme adversity last Sunday. We didn’t do our best. Luckily we have experienced guys who have been on winning teams and understand.”

The Chargers (1-2) can point consolation to last year’s Super Bowl participants. The Rams went on a midseason losing streak of three games; The Cincinnati Bengals went into their break week at a modest 5-4.

During his 2014 rookie season, Linsley and the Green Bay Packers also opened 2-1 before winning nine of their next 10 and eventually reaching the NFC title game.

“We didn’t do anything differently all year,” Linsley recalls. “It wasn’t like we tried harder or brought anyone in or changed our philosophy of who we are.

“In this league that will happen. The greatest emphasis is on staying the course. … It’s three games over. We know the problems. We know what we need to fix.”

The Chargers need to run the ball better and find a way to maximize Herbert’s effectiveness despite his injury, even with a rookie, Jamaree Salyer, taking on Slater in the left tackle.

On defense, they need to recover after dropping points in each of Jacksonville’s last seven full possessions last weekend. Her 28-point loss is the NFL’s second-biggest result in a season so far marked by a record number of close ends.

“It was a great learning experience,” said Tranquill. “It was a great humbling experience.”

The Chargers opened the season with a league-high eight players on the NFL Network’s Top 100 list and an understandable expectation of receiving more awards throughout the season.

Instead, here’s what happened: One of their Week 2 opponents (Kansas City’s Jaylen Watson) was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week and one of their Week 3 opponents (Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence) was the Conference Offensive Player of the Week.

The script has actually been flipped onto the Chargers, who now embark on a quest for improved health and fortune in a place that was cruelly unkind to them nine months ago.

In the second half of 2021, this franchise has dropped five of its last seven games.

“We can’t point that out and blame because there are other teams that are dealing with the same issue,” said safety Derwin James Jr. “They’re also dealing with player injuries. We just have to overcome it.”

https://www.latimes.com/sports/chargers/story/2022-10-01/los-angeles-chargers-at-houston-texans-game-preview Chargers play Texans facing adversity at place of past failure

Emma Bowman

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