Chargers running back Melvin Gordon didn’t want to place any blame.
He didn’t want to make excuses for why he and Austin Ekeler struggled to find room on the ground, why they couldn’t motor the Chargers’ offense for the second-straight week, this time the home team losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-17.
“I slipped on one play,” Gordon said. “Opened up some [holes], but we’ve got to make it happen. You can’t just point fingers. I’m not really into that. That’s not going to do anything but break us apart. I don’t want to say that they’re not opening this up. Maybe I should be running better.”
But Chargers coach Anthony Lynn wasn’t interested in being nearly as diplomatic. It’s not on the running backs.
“I thought we were running the ball well in the first couple of weeks of the season,” he said. “The last couple of weeks, we just haven’t run the ball that well. We haven’t made our blocks.
“Everybody’s got to be accountable for the man in, and those runners they really don’t have a chance. So, we’ve got to do a better job up front.”
Lynn also said the Chargers’ receivers have to block better. But while he was handing out responsibility, none of it went to Gordon, who has played in two games after holding out for nine weeks and missing the first three games. The fourth in Miami, just after his return, he watched in uniform from the sideline.
Since, Gordon has rushed 20 times for 49 yards in two losses. He also has caught seven passes for 37 yards.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with Melvin Gordon,” Lynn said. “We’ve got to open up more running lanes.”
Against Pittsburgh, the Chargers ran for just 32 yards on 14 carries. Last week against Denver, it was 16 rushes for 35 yards.
In an ideal world, where football players never got injured and teams are able to perfectly execute their designs, the entire left side and center of the Chargers’ offensive line would be different.
With Mike Pouncey now on the injured reserve, however, left guard Dan Feeney moved to center and Forrest Lamp made his first career start, playing left guard. Next to Lamp at the critical left tackle spot, the Chargers are still without Russell Okung and are relying on second-year undrafted tackle Trent Scott to take his place.
“It’s tough,” Gordon said. “We’re going to figure it out. Hopefully we get Russ back. We’re missing some leaders up there — not to discredit anybody.”
And quickly trailing 14-0, as the Chargers did Sunday, doesn’t help, either.
“We’re putting ourselves in bad situations, whether it be turnovers, missed assignments, not winning our one-on-ones. It’s a lot of things,” Ekeler said. “It’s a lot of things coming together where we have to look, every individual, you have to put more time in, whatever it is, to make sure that you can get your job done.
“We’ve got a lot of new guys, and there’s a lot of pressure on those guys, but it’s the NFL. We’ve got to step up. We’ve got to make plays.”