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NFL readers Q&A: Fans delve into regressing Chargers, Rams offenses

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws a pass against Jacksonville.
The Chargers offense has been crippled by injuries to quarterback Justin Herbert, above, and along the offensive line.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Readers ask our NFL football experts questions about the Rams, the Chargers and the league. Rams beat writer Gary Klein and Chargers beat writer Jeff Miller answer:

I think the offense looked better in Justin’s first year under Shane Steichen and QB coach Pep Hamilton than Joe Lombardi and Shane Day. That includes last year and most definitely this year. No commitment or consistency in the run game, a lot of dink dink passes with no real commitment to the long game. Just scattershot. Horrible gimmick or trick plays, etc. What is your take? Agree or disagree and why is what I would like to know. Now by the end of the year Shane will be the next great thing! Teams will be lined up to hire him. And Hamilton is getting all he can out of that under-talented Houston team.

Randy Strunk, San Diego

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Miller: The 2020 Chargers’ offense finished 18th in points and ninth in yards. Last year’s offense was fifth and fourth, respectively, in those categories. So, under Lombardi in 2021, Herbert and the offense were much better than the year before. Beyond Herbert’s health, which will remain the biggest obstacle for the foreseeable future, the offensive line would be my biggest concern. The injuries to LT Rashawn Slater and C Corey Linsley have been crippling.

Will Malcolm Brown be activated, and will the Rams use him in short goal-line situations? He’s a power back and doesn’t fumble often.

Adrian T, Los Angeles

Klein: The Rams signed Malcolm Brown to the practice squad to add a veteran presence to a position group that includes Darrell Henderson and Cam Akers. Brown was not active against the Cardinals because he had arrived only a few days before. I don’t think the Rams would activate him from the practice squad solely to be used in short-yardage situations, though he could help fill that role. He is a proven pass protector and special teams player.

Rams running back Malcolm Brown scores a touchdown against Seattle in 2020.
Running back Malcolm Brown has been good in short yardage for the Rams in the past.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

When will Dean Spanos sell the team?

Mike Basalo, Goodyear

Miller: Never. His son, John, is in line to take over when Dean decides to pass the torch.

Why does the NFL constantly preach “player safety” and then pay it lip service by having teams play games on Thursdays after Sunday games ... and don’t give them a bye after a Monday night game?

Michael McInnis, Los Angeles

Klein: The easy answer is money. Networks and now streaming services pay NFL owners billions to broadcast games. Frankly, I’m surprised the league has not staked out territory every day of the week.

Without a deep threat the Chargers will be in trouble. There are potential players out there that the Chargers could bring in? What about Will Fuller and or Eric Fisher?

Daniel Love, Eagle, Idaho

Miller: The end of September is not the time to be shopping for NFL-level talent. Any players who remain unsigned at this point are either still working back from injury or not terribly appealing for some reason. Fuller is still only 28 and had his most productive season in 2020. But he played in only three games last year. I haven’t heard Eric Fisher’s name in a while. Certainly, there’s interest in him around the league. I‘m not sure what to make of the fact he apparently has chosen so far to remain out of work.

Joey Bosa’s groin injury is worse than first thought and will require surgery to repair. They hope he can return this season. Meanwhile, rookie Jamaree Salyer to start at left tackle.

Is there any hope the Bolts can sign a left tackle, or trade for one as with Storm Norton, this team will not make the playoffs and Herbert might not finish the season?

Harvey Smith, Dayton

Miller: To be fair, the Chargers aren’t going anywhere this season if Herbert can’t get closer to healthy than he was Sunday. As for the LT position, I’m not sure many teams have starting-caliber LTs sitting on the bench, and it’s only Week 4, meaning teams aren’t ready to bail on this season and trade away their starting LT. There are free agents still out there, but the pickings are slim at this point. You are right about Norton. He was awful Sunday.

What is it about the Chargers that causes them to have so many injuries each year? Is it a poor training regimen or staff issues? A poor training facility? The field? It seems we lose more players to injury than the majority of teams and it keeps happening year after year. Preseason analysts were mentioning the Chargers “injury bug” as a reason they wouldn’t predict them to do well this year, and the injury list to date has proven them 100% correct. It NEEDS to be fixed!

Andy Sturtevant, Saco, Maine

Miller: See above for answer.

Klein: All teams lose players because of injuries but the Chargers seem to lose more key players than most. I don’t know if that’s perception or reality. It’s unfortunate for NFL fans because the Chargers have legitimate stars capable of showing up on highlight reels every week.

The Rams realize Odell Beckham Jr. is still recovering from knee surgery, but they have kept the free agent receiver’s locker intact and have high hopes he will come back to team.

When do the Chargers seriously consider contacting Sean Payton’s agent?

Joseph Becerra, Long Beach

Klein: Sean McVay and Sean Payton coaching in the same city with quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Justin Herbert certainly would be exciting. But in my book, unless they win the Super Bowl, Payton is bound for the Dallas Cowboys.

Miller: If this Chargers’ season goes sideways — and it certainly looks to be heading in that direction — I’d think GM Tom Telesco would be the first to go. He has been on the job a decade and his teams have made the playoffs only twice. If that happens, no one right now knows what that would mean for coach Brandon Staley.


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