Healthy dose of reality for injured Chargers: They’re mediocre

The chargers dissolve.

After what they did on Sunday, what other conclusion could be drawn when they were outplayed at their stadium by an opponent they should have beaten?

It would be one thing if their 37-23 loss to the Seattle Seahawks at SoFi Stadium was some kind of fluke.

It was not.

Just four weeks earlier, the Chargers were humiliated here by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Blame Justin Herbert’s torn rib cartilage. Blame one of the other injuries. Blame the defense.

Whatever the reason, the Chargers don’t look like a Super Bowl team.

They’ve been in the season for seven weeks and haven’t beaten anyone to speak of.

They can’t keep their key players on the field as cornerback JC Jackson and receiver Mike Williams were the latest players to go under, and coach Brandon Staley called Jackson’s right knee injury “significant.” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Jackson dislocated his kneecap.

Seattle's Marquise Goodwin (11) catches a TD pass after Chargers corner JC Jackson (27) fell with a knee injury.

Seattle’s Marquise Goodwin (11) catches a touchdown pass after Chargers cornerback JC Jackson (27) fell with a knee injury.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

They had a chance to extend their winning streak to four games and improve to 5-2 but will go into the break with a 4-3 record.

From the lectern in the interview room, Staley attempted to recreate the speech he had delivered to his team after the recent setback.

“We’re 4-3,” Staley said. “The reality is we had to fight really hard to be 4-3 in seven games. We endured a lot.”

While Staley reminded his players that their season was ahead of them, the preamble to his post-game monologue was an acknowledgment of an issue that could shatter their visions of fame that would transform their franchise.

They don’t have the bodies, especially on offense.

The condition of their team was reflected in Herbert.

Herbert has downplayed the injury he picked up in the Week 3 loss to the Jaguars but is still injured.

With Rashawn Slater out indefinitely while recovering from bicep surgery, Herbert was protected by rookie Jamaree Salyer, a sixth-round pick on Sunday.

The Chargers' Mike Williams, 81, grimaces in pain as training staff look over him after the receiver injured his ankle.

The Chargers’ Mike Williams, 81, grimaces in pain as training staff look over him after the receiver injured his ankle.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Herbert’s No. 1 receiver, Keenan Allen, was limited to one half after missing the last five games with a strained Achilles tendon.

His next reliable receiver, Williams, went down with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter.

The result: The typically superlative Herbert looked completely normal.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t play the way we wanted today,” said Herbert. “Turned the ball around a couple of times and you can’t expect to do that and win games in the NFL.”

Herbert was responsible for both turnovers, a what-are-you-doing interception on the opening drive and a fumble later in the first quarter.

The errors contributed to a 17-0 deficit.

This was the third straight game the Chargers were 10 or more points down in the opening period, only this time they didn’t play the Cleveland Browns or Denver Broncos.

Running back Austin Ekeler blamed the team’s inability to establish any type of ground play.

“We were pretty one-dimensional today,” said Ekeler.

But how much of that had to do with the Seahawks not fearing Herbert as much as they would if he were healthy?

Or with backup running back Joshua Kelley now on injured reserve with a knee injury?

And what about the defense?

Joey Bosa is also in IR – recovering from groin surgery – but the unit was relatively unscathed until Jackson went down in the second quarter.

The three wins after losing to the Jaguars suddenly look like the result of a favorable schedule, wins against the 1-4-1 Houston Texans, 2-5 Browns and 2-5 Broncos.

Considering what happened, was Staley relieved or disappointed that he was 4-3 at that point?

“I don’t think today is the time to think,” Staley said. “Today I’m just concentrating on how we played in today’s game and it wasn’t good enough. Like I said, I have to make sure I do a better job with this team. I thought we played fantastic on Monday night [against the Broncos], really showed what a team we can be and today it wasn’t good enough in all three stages. That starts with me.”

It actually starts with health, and that’s not Staley’s fault. Healthy dose of reality for injured Chargers: They’re mediocre

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