The final game of the 2021 NFL regular season came to an end, as the Chargers and Raiders were tied at 32 at the end of overtime. The two appeared to be heading for a draw, which would have led both teams to the playoffs.
Then Los Angeles coach Brandon Staley called for a timeout with 38 seconds left in the game. The call came before the Raiders ran a third and 4 at the Chargers’ 39-yard line and with only a few seconds left on the play clock.
What followed was an 8-yard run by Josh Jacobs to set up a game-winning 47-yard field goal attempt by Daniel Carlson of Las Vegas. He went through the posts when time expired, sending the Raiders to the playoffs as the No. 5 seed and the Chargers home.
Staley’s timeout became a point of contention after the game. Why not keep the clock ticking and see if the Raiders were willing to run out of time? Staley’s explanation of the call was fulfilled, but what didn’t work was the Chargers’ execution afterward.
Why did the Chargers ask for a timeout?
As Staley explained, he called for a timeout to set up the Chargers defense. He wanted to fill in Josh Jacobs and make sure Daniel Carlson’s potential game-winning attempt was as long as possible.
“We felt like they were going to run the ball, so we wanted to have our best 11-person running defense, make that substitution so we could get a play where we were deep on the field goal.” [range]”Staley said.
That substitution became a topic of conversation after the game.
What went wrong after the Chargers timeout
The Chargers changed their defense after the timeout as they replaced linebacker Kenneth Murray with big-body nose tackle Linval Joseph. There was nothing wrong with Staley’s decision, as 33-year-old Joseph has always been strong against the run.
That said, as former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho pointed out, that created a fundamental change in the Chargers’ lineup. Rather than operating with four defensive linemen and two linebackers, the Chargers had five linemen and one linebacker on the play. That put pressure on linebacker Kyzir White both to defend midfield and to shoot downhill to try and stop Jacobs once a gap emerged.
Brandon Staley took time out because he outdid himself.
A player is missing in the #chargers defense after time out. That missing player was the difference. See for yourself pic.twitter.com/ROvz4sLcqK
– Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) January 10, 2022
As Ocho detailed, White stayed in the middle of the field instead of moving with the tight end to get to the space that Jacobs was attacking. In Oy’s opinion, that would not have happened with another linebacker on the field, as White would have been able to shoot into the gap with the other back-up rotating toward midfield. The safety didn’t have the same responsibility, so White had to wait a split second to identify the gap.
As a result, when White descended, the Jacobs fold had already formed. He hit him, reached the second level and carried the ball for a first and within field goal range.
Acho blamed Staley’s personnel change for this mistake, but the coach said replacing Murray after the time-out was not the problem. It was just a matter of failed execution.
“Obviously we didn’t execute well enough, but we wanted to have our best line of defense here and that’s what we did,” Staley said.
Since Murray has struggled for most of the season, he was ranked 72nd out of 86 qualified linebackers who entered Sunday’s action, according to FFP, and had six missed tackles compared to 18 made on the season; it is easy to understand why Staley would replace him.
At the same time, Acho’s point has merit. Having an extra linebacker may have helped the Chargers limit Jacobs’ gain, but if Los Angeles didn’t trust Murray, they didn’t have much of a choice to replace him, as Drue Tranquill was in his first game. from a leg injury that left him out for three weeks.
Did the Chargers timeout change the Raiders’ strategy?
Both Derek Carr and Rich Bisaccia claimed that the Chargers’ decision to call a timeout changed their strategy, but Staley doubted that after the game.
“They were going to run the ball on the play before [the timeout]”Staley said.” And then they ran the ball on the next play. “
In all likelihood, the Raiders were going to run the ball, see what they could get, and kick a field goal if they were confident enough in the potential outcome. At the time, they just needed to avoid giving up a defensive score to advance to the playoffs, win or tie. And a win would give them the No. 5 seed and a date with the Bengals rather than a draw, which would give them the No. 7 seed and a meeting with the Chiefs, so that had to have been on the team’s mind. when good.
Either way, the Raiders were certainly not preparing to kneel. As such, the Chargers called for the timeout and put on the field the unit they believed would give them the best chance of stopping the Raiders.
They just couldn’t do it.