COSTA MESA — A day after he fell to 0-3 as an NFL head coach, Anthony Lynn stood at the Chargers practice facility and told it straight.
“I didn’t have to watch the film to figure out why we lost that game,” he said.
The reason being, of course, an offense that turned the ball over three times in the first 20 minutes. An offense that crossed midfield four times without adding any points. An offense that had its lowest-scoring performance in nearly two years.
In Sunday’s 24-10 loss to Kansas City, the Chargers squandered a strong defensive showing with multiple miscues on the other side of the ball – the most prominent of them being Philip Rivers’ three interceptions. The veteran quarterback finished the day with no touchdowns, and the fourth-worst passer rating of his career.
But when asked whether the offense needed wholesale changes, both Lynn and his players said their struggles can be fixed simply through better execution.
“I think Philip will be the first one to tell you he did not have one of his better days yesterday,” Lynn said. “Play-calling was just fine. Like I told the group earlier this morning, sometimes we’re going to throw the 50-50 ball, and I expect us to catch it or break it up.”
“You hope to avoid days like this all year long,” Rivers said, “but if you have them, you’ve got to learn from them and go, and not overreact.”
The Chargers ranked among the top 10 in the league in either yards or points in three of the past four years. Three weeks in, they are stuck at 19th in yards per game (315.3) and 23rd in total scoring (48).
They ranked among the top 10 in third-down conversions in 11 of the past 13 seasons – leading the league at 49 percent in 2013, when they first hired offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. They are currently loitering among the NFL’s bottom five, converting just 10 of their 33 attempts on third down.
This was supposed to be the Chargers’ strength: A high-octane offense that not only returned a potential Hall of Famer in Rivers, but revamped its offensive line through free agency and the NFL draft. Throw in the return of star receiver Keenan Allen, who tore his ACL in the 2016 season opener, and this was a group expected to produce fireworks.
Instead, the Chargers have fizzled. Barely half of their 31 drives this year have lasted past 25 yards. Seven drives didn’t even net 10 yards.
“Last year, we were so explosive,” running back Melvin Gordon said. “I felt like we…