The Los Angeles Chargers have performed below expectations thus far in 2023 as they got out to a rough start and took a trio of tough losses the last two weeks.
The Chargers took a step back in the right direction Sunday with a dominant 30-13 win over the Chicago Bears, improving to 3-4 and potentially giving their front office a more optimistic outlook ahead of Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline.
Was the win more indicative of Los Angeles trending in the right direction or of Chicago’s struggles?
Los Angeles Chargers Put On Season’s Best Showing
Los Angeles undoubtedly put together its most complete performance of the season Sunday as Justin Herbert was efficient, and the defense turned in a solid outing.
Herbert turned in one of his most accurate performances of the season, completing 31 of his 40 pass attempts (77.5%) for 298 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with Austin Ekeler, Donald Parham Jr., and Simi Fehoko for a score apiece.
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The Chargers scored on each of their first five possessions, spanning from the game’s second drive to nearly the midway point of the third quarter, as they scored three touchdowns and a pair of field goals to amass a 27-7 lead they would never relinquish.
That showing, combined with kicker Cameron Dicker knocking through all three of his field goal tries, made for more than enough offense as the Chargers’ defense largely stymied the Tyson Bagent-led Bears. Ja’Sir Taylor and Derwin James each had interceptions on a night where the defensive backfield got hands on several other passes, too.
The Bears also scored a garbage time touchdown with just over two minutes left in the game, making the final score look closer than the contest truly was.
The Chargers’ social media team posted a clip mocking Chicago’s performance after the game.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@chargers) October 30, 2023
It’s the kind of performance Los Angeles has been looking for after six weeks of relatively disappointing showings. The Chargers barely beat the 4-4 Minnesota Vikings and 3-4 Las Vegas Raiders while losing a trio of games by three or fewer points along with a 14-point defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs.
The strength of that early schedule certainly did Los Angeles no favors, but it still has not shown itself to be the dominant force many expected it could be this season.
Perhaps the dominant win over Chicago will help the Chargers kick it into high gear in the coming weeks, with important tests against the Detroit Lions (5-2) and Baltimore Ravens (6-2) looming on the docket.
Tyson Bagent, Chicago Bears Come Back Down to Earth
On the other end of Los Angeles’ blowout win, Chicago seems to be coming back down to Earth from last week’s lopsided win over the Las Vegas Raiders.
Bagent, an undrafted rookie out of Division II’s Shepherd University, made his first career start last week in the Bears’ victory over the Raiders. His stat line was not exactly eye-popping in the contest, but he was an efficient 21-of-29 passing for 162 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.
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He was not as effective this time around, completing 25 of 37 attempts for 232 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions, though a pass play blown dead too soon early on cost him a potential passing touchdown. Those struggles spawned from Chicago’s inability to run the ball against Los Angeles’ somewhat surprisingly stout run defense, with the Bears tallying just 73 yards on the ground, down from 173 a week ago.
Bagent undoubtedly made some poor decisions and did not execute as well as he may have hoped, but the supporting cast around him did not do enough to help earn a victory either.
His first interception came on a 3rd-and-8 play with the Chargers already up 14-0 in the early going, which led to an L.A. field goal, while the second was a little before the midway point of the fourth quarter on a 4th-and-3 play with the game all but out of reach. Both were moments where Bagent was perhaps asked to press beyond his capabilities and comfort level.
That’s ultimately on Bagent to some extent, but it’s perhaps more a product of Chicago’s inability to get stops or run the ball effectively, forcing him into those positions.
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