Here's a look at some of the areas of emphasis for the Chargers through Week Three of the season:
The Chargers have eight turnovers through three games, with six of those coming from quarterback Philip Rivers, who has had to not only maneuver behind an injured offensive line but also play from behind. In three games, the Chargers have only held the lead in one quarter -- the fourth quarter of the season opener against the Lions.
Philip Rivers was sacked four times against the Bengals and four times against the Vikings. Through three games, Rivers has been sacked 10 times.
The Chargers defense has only one sack on opposing quarterbacks (made by rookie OLB Kyle Emanuel in the season opener). Linebacker Melvin Ingram, who is arguably the team’s best pass rusher, has more penalties than he does sacks (three penalties, zero sacks).
The Chargers made eight penalties for a loss of 64 yards against the Bengals; against the Vikings, they made seven penalties for 74 yards.
“That’s the sign of a young team,” veteran safety Eric Weddle told reporters after the game. “We’ve got to grow up.”
Penalty stats can sometimes be overblown. For example: In 2013, when the Seattle Seahwawks won the Super Bowl, they led the league in penalties in the regular season. The year before that, the Baltimore Ravens had the second highest number of penalties and went on to become World Champions. If a team is physical and aggressive, you sometimes take the bad with the good -- and the bad can mean penalties. The Chargers, though, aren't in a place to ovecome their penalties like the Seahawks and Ravens did. They've got to limit them because as is stands, they're only making it harder on themselves.
RUSHING YARDS ALLOWED:
Against the Bengals, the Chargers defense allowed 175 rushing yards; against the Vikings, they didn’t fare much better (163). San Diego is fifth-worst in the NFL in rushing yards allowed.
A bright spot in this season is wide receiver Keenan Allen. Against the Lions, Allen had 15 receptions for 166 yards. He had a down week in Cincy (two catches for 16 yards) but finished the Vikings game with 12 catches for 133 yards. He has two touchdowns on the season.
"He had a bounce back week and made some big plays," Rivers said after the Vikings game. "He just kept fighting the whole day."
The Chargers' ground game improved in Cincy, when it finished with 131 rushing yards for an average of 5.2 yards per carry. Against the Vikings, they finished with 90 yards for an average of 3.2 per play. Statistics won't be linear from week-to-week -- that would be unrealistic, as there are ebbs and flows depending on the opponent and the game at hand -- but the ground game is something to watch going forward. The Chargers want to be more balanced. They can't be if they are constantly playing from behind.
"There's no such thing as balance .... [when you're] as behind as we were today," Rivers said Sunday evening in Minnesota.