(CBSLA/CBS Local) — The Los Angeles Chargers limp into their Week 4 matchup with the Miami Dolphins with a disappointing 1-2 record. The Chargers downed the Indianapolis Colts in overtime to open the season before dropping heart-breakers to the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans. All three games were decided by no more than a touchdown.
The offense, in some ways, has been humming along. Philip Rivers continues his Hall of Fame-level career, tossing five touchdowns and averaging almost 315 yards passing per game through the first three weeks. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson have been productive out of the backfield, both on the ground and through the air, in Melvin Gordon’s absence. (Reports suggest Gordon will return Thursday, but he won’t play this week.)
So what’s wrong with the Chargers?
Missing players, for one thing, be it from holdout or injury. Gordon is a special talent, who is tough to replace, even with capable backups. Wide receiver Mike Williams, who started the season with a knee injury and now has a back issue, has been limited all season. Tight end Hunter Henry is also out with a knee injury. And then there is the sick ward that is their defensive secondary.
Changes may need to be made at some point, but they have time. Their next three opponents — the Dolphins, Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers — are currently win-less. Looking at this week’s opponent, “Miami has had tons of struggles,” according to NFL On CBS analyst Trent Green. “They’re 31st in offense. They’re 32nd in defense. They’ve giving up 44 points a game, nearly 500 yards a game.”
Even a depleted Chargers offense can put up points on this unit without much change in game play or personnel. The current line, putting the Chargers at 15.5-point favorites, suggests as much. “They just need to do what they do,” according to Green. “I don’t think they need to do anything extreme outside the box. They beat Indianapolis in Week 1, lost to Detroit by three, they lost to Houston by seven. The Detroit game, if you look at the number of missed kicks they had in that — both field goals and extra points — could have been a different game.”
The Chargers play the Dolphins Sunday @ 10 a.m. PT on CBS.