Chargers look sluggish as Jaguars roll, can’t blame loss on Justin Herbert’s injury

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, left, passes while pressured by Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen during the second half of an NFL football game in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

For a moment on Sunday, the Chargers looked ready to rally behind their injured Pro Bowl quarterback.

Justin Herbert uncorked a 54-yard strike to Jalen Guyton to spark a second-half drive against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The big play stood in stark contrast to a sluggish first half that saw the Chargers fall behind, 16-7 as Herbert played with fractured rib cartilage. But reality soon struck. Pro Bowl left tackle Rashawn Slater left with a biceps injury two plays later. The possession bogged down and ended with a field goal. And the Jaguars ran away with the game from there en route to a 38-10 victory.

At the end, Herbert piled up garbage-time stats while some wondered why the injured quarterback was still in the game.

At a glance, it was a stunning result for a Chargers team armed with Super Bowl hopes and playing at home against a Jaguars team that finished 2021 with the NFL’s worst record. But maybe it shouldn’t be all that surprising. That Jaguars are clearly much improved. Meanwhile, the Chargers are playing with a mountain of injury woes that extend beyond their hobbled quarterback and threaten to derail their season.

They started Sunday without Pro Bowl receiver Keenan Allen and cornerback J.C. Jackson, who were both sidelined with injuries. Before Slater left the game, Pro Bowl pass rusher Joey Bosa was ruled out with a groin injury suffered in the first half. It adds up to serious concerns for a team looking to compete in a stacked AFC.