They are one of three teams averaging as many as 300 yards passing per game, and are fourth in the NFL in yards per play and fifth in total offense.
The Chargers have gained plenty through four games. It’s what they’ve lost that offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt can’t shake.
Four times the Chargers have had touchdowns called back because of penalties. They also lost a glorious scoring opportunity in Detroit when Austin Ekeler fumbled on first down at the one-yard line.
“I think we’ve been OK as an offense,” Whisenhunt said. “Statistically, we’re pretty good, I think. But that’s just the thing that keeps going through my mind. It’s just hard. It’s hard to think about that.”
The Chargers had two touchdowns nullified against the Lions because of an illegal block by right tackle Sam Tevi and a holding call against wide receiver Dontrelle Inman.
A week later, a holding infraction by left guard Dan Feeney wiped out a touchdown run. Keenan Allen was called for offensive pass interference Sunday to erase his 69-yard scoring reception.
There’s a reason why the Chargers are second behind only Baltimore in time of possession and fourth in third-down conversion percentage yet are no better than 14th in points scored.
Whisenhunt praised his offense’s ability to generate explosive plays. He also referenced the Chargers’ success on third down and their red-zone production, where they rank 12th in touchdowns per possession.
But he also noted the team’s win-loss record and how those are the only numbers that ultimately mean anything.
“None of that really matters to me when you’re 2-2,” Whisenhunt said. “I think, and maybe I’m wrong, but if we had those five touchdowns on the board, I think it’s a completely different situation right now. … To me, that’s what’s really important.”
The Chargers’ had their most comprehensive drive of the season Sunday in Miami. They moved 66 yards in 16 plays and consumed 10 minutes, 33 seconds of the third quarter.
Though the series netted just three points — Ty Long kicked a 45-yard field goal — the Chargers kept the ball out of the Dolphins’ hands, contributing greatly to Miami producing only 36 total yards on 18 plays in the second half.
“That does a lot for a defense after a stop, a punt and then we held it for 10 1/2 minutes,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “That kept our ‘D’ rolling and fresh, and it can take its toll on the defense you’re going against when we’re out there a long time.”
The drive featured five runs by Ekeler and four by Troymaine Pope, and four completions by Rivers. He also had one incompletion and was sacked once.
The Chargers picked up five first downs and converted two third downs. They also ran a 17th play that was called back because of an illegal block penalty on Allen.
“To have that kind of a drive, to take that kind of time off the clock, to convert those third downs, that’s a big deal,” Whisenhunt said. “I think it goes toward confidence for your team. It’s pretty rewarding for the group to do that.”
Defensive end Melvin Ingram missed his second consecutive practice Thursday because of a hamstring injury suffered against Miami.
Coach Anthony Lynn said Ingram has been lobbying to play Sunday, but that seems like an impossibility. The Chargers host Denver at 1 p.m. at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Instead, Uchenna Nwosu figures to fill in for most of the snaps that otherwise would have gone to Ingram.
“We’re excited about ‘Chenna,’ ” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “One thing about ‘Chenna,’ he’s going to play hard. … I think the technique is coming. It’s not like it’s a big shock to our unit. They have a lot of confidence in him.”
Nwosu, who played at Narbonne High, was a second-round pick in 2018 out of USC. He appeared in all 16 games as a rookie, including three starts at outside linebacker.
At 6-foot-2, 251 pounds, Nwosu is big enough and versatile enough to line up on the edge up front. He started working at the position during the Chargers’ offseason program.
“He’s naturally a gifted athlete,” Bradley said. “It’s hard to find a guy that can play outside linebacker, ask him to do all the drops [in pass coverage], and then also be a rusher. That’s why we took him as high as we did.”
Rookie free safety Nasir Adderley (hamstring) also didn’t practice Thursday. Adderley, the Chargers’ second-round pick in April, missed most of training camp because of a hamstring problem.
Linebacker Thomas Davis (groin), wide receivers Mike Williams (back) and Travis Benjamin (hip), and tight end Virgil Green (groin) were limited for a second consecutive day.
Cornerback Casey Hayward (back) also was limited after being a full participant Wednesday. He spent last week on the injury report and then played all 52 defensive snaps against the Dolphins.