The Los Angeles Chargers have been on the wrong end of a few tough one-score games this season, but on Sunday against the New England Patriots, they were spared any chance of heartbreak, as they accomplished the worst loss in franchise history.
The Chargers—betting favorites heading in!—were terrible in all aspects of the game, but their special teams received the most attention, even if that unit wasn’t responsible for the entirety of their 45-0 defeat. Take away those hideous fuckups and they might have only lost 31-0 instead. Still, the attention was deserved. As Daniel Popper of The Athletic pointed out, the Chargers had the wrong number of players on the field for the majority of the Patriots’ punts.
Additionally, the Chargers gave up a 70-yard punt return touchdown to Gunner Olszewski, who scored again later on a pass from Patriots backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Allowing even one TD to a guy who tucks his jersey into his pants like it’s a dress shirt should be grounds for an NFL team to cease operations.
Right before halftime the Chargers tried to get on the board with a field goal. The attempt was blocked, and Devin McCourty took it to the house. Even the little victories were out of reach for Los Angeles.
What makes this funnier—or more horrifying, depending on your perspective—is that the Chargers already demoted their first special teams coach, George Stewart, on Nov. 25, after they nearly blew a win over the New York Jets in Week 11. Stewart was reassigned to an analyst position; assistant special teams coach Keith Burns and senior coaching assistant Chris Caminiti took over the responsibilities. So, there were two people overseeing all of this. Two people were supposed to make sure that the punt return unit had the correct number of players on the field, and they fucked it up three out of five times.
To be fair, the rest of the Chargers’ coaching was just as horrendous. Whatever magic head coach Anthony Lynn had in a 2018 playoff run has vanished by now. Following last week’s loss courtesy of awful clock management, Lynn was once again not on the same page as rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, who remained in the game even when there was no reason for him to still take snaps. He and Lynn had differing opinions on whether that made sense.
The biggest loss in Chargers history, negligent handling of a rookie quarterback, elimination from playoff contention: There’s no reason to keep Lynn. Unless … would three special teams coaches fix this?