by Nick Hamilton (@NickHamiltonLA)
COSTA MESA, CA — On Sunday quarterback Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers suffered their worst loss of the season against the New England Patriots 45-0.
The first time this season that Herbert threw for no touchdowns in a game where he’s averaged at least two touchdown passes since he started in week two against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The past few days after Sunday’s loss that head coach Anthony Lynn called “embarrassing”, the team looked to turn the page this week towards preparing for the Atlanta Falcons at SoFi Stadium.
Whether you feel this team has underachieved at times, been decimated with injuries and/or made some questionable coaching decisions, you’re probably right. The team is loaded with talented and with every loss the talk and question marks become more evident every week. Beyond these men being professionals as coaches, coordinators and players they’re still humans at the end of the day, so how are they able to block out the noise and focus on finishing up the season strong?
“It’s something we’ve had to do the past weeks and the entire and just something we’ve had to be good at,” quarterback Justin Herbert said on Wednesday. “Not just this year but for years to come, you can’t listen to anyone outside of this building and it’s something I think we’ve done a good job at this year. It’s something we need to continue to do and it’s very important for us to do.”
Herbert looks to have “a good week of practice and go 1-0 this week,” being the future of the franchise for a young quarterback can be taxing. Struggle is nothing new for Herbert as he always dials back to the freshman year at Oregon where the team finished a dismal 4-8, yet the next three seasons, the Oregon Ducks improved and eventually won the Rose Bowl in his season year with an impressive resume ready for the NFL. Herbert hopes that same magic can follow him with this team for years to come. No doubt this kid is talented, poised and made to take the reigns under center. But everyone must be on board.
Many of the players are looking towards brighter days including running back Austin Ekeler, yet are shying away about the doubt and talk from many outside of the locker room these days.
“(We’re) acknowledging that there will be noise. Because if you try to sweep it under the rug it’s probably going to catch up to you,” Ekeler said. “We know it’s noise as far as our future, us as a team so we acknowledge that. Yet, we can’t worry about that because that’s not going to affect how we play this week. What’s going to affect how we play this week is practice, get out there and we’re playing for the names on our backs and the Chargers organization right now. Our playoff run is gone so we’re doing it for each other and trying to build something and get it going in the right direction.“
One the team’s achilles heel has been special team, whom Lynn announced that he would take over those duties for the remainder of the season. Lynn’s seat continues to get hotter, however this man of faith and strong belief still feels he can win out these last four games and rally the troops.
“We lift each other up. This group is very positive, guys show up and you’d think we were 9-3 instead of 3-9,” Lynn said to the media.
How does a head coach in the second largest market with a team filled with talent, who could be removed from the sidelines this time next season tune out all the talk and focus?
“It’s hard to do that sometimes, but that’s what you have to do. You have to tune out the noise, and just believe in yourself and the process, what you’re doing and the people around you. It’s the only way you make it through tough times, and that’s exactly what we are doing.”
The Chargers host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at 1:25PM PT on FOX.