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Brandon Staley: I just didn’t coach well enough today

Steve Kornacki examines how the AFC landscape has shifted with the majority of Week 16 action over and done, including big divisional wins for the Bengals and Bills and a shocker from the Chargers.

In the thick of the AFC playoff race, the Chargers suffered a bad 41-29 loss to the Texans on Sunday.

Though Los Angeles was missing several key players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, Houston was in the same situation. The L.A. defense had difficulty slowing down Houston’s offense all day, allowing 437 total yards the club averaged 6.8 yards per play.

Houston was also 9-of-13 on third down as quarterback Davis Mills finished 21-of-27 for 254 yards and two TDs. Running back Rex Burkhead had a career-high 149 yards and two touchdowns.

In 97 career appearances, Burkhead’s only other game of going over 100 yards was back in 2017 when he was with the Bengals.

After the contest, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley lamented that his defense was never able to get in “a comfort zone or rhythm” on third downs. But he didn’t use the COVID-19 absences as an excuse for the loss.

“I just didn’t coach well enough today,” Staley said in his postgame press conference. “I didn’t coach well enough, I didn’t put our guys in good enough positions to be consistent in the game, and that’s why we lost.”

The Chargers have two divisional matchups against the Broncos and Raiders remaining on their schedule. They should get players back off the COVID-19 list for next week. But the Chargers will now need some help to make the postseason.

“This was a challenging week, and I loved the way that our guys prepared this week,” Staley said. “We didn’t play well enough today, but that doesn’t change the way that I feel about them. This is the tough side of the NFL. It didn’t go down today, and that’s what I told them.

“This is the tough side of the NFL. It’s been a fight this entire season for us, and it’s going to continue to be that way. We still have a lot in front of us we can play for, certainly, and we need to let this one sting, get home and rest, and be ready to go take on Denver because they’re really good, and hopefully we’ll get some guys back next week and just keep it moving.”