Chargers vs. Jets matchups: Justin Herbert ready to bounce back

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert throws to running back Kalen Ballage.
Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert could be poised for a big day on Sunday as long as his offensive line gives him time to make plays. (Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

Breaking down how the Chargers (2-7) and the New York Jets match up heading into their game Sunday at 1:05 p.m. Pacific time at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood.

When Chargers have the ball: Rookie quarterback Justin Herbert had his first rookie-looking game last weekend in a 29-21 loss at Miami. Herbert and the coaches struggled in attempts to decipher the Dolphins’ blitz looks, a development that wide receiver Keenan Allen said left the Chargers offense often confused. Herbert managed to throw for two touchdowns and run for another, but also finished with 187 yards through the air and an 86.3 passer rating, both season lows. He’ll attempt to rebound against a New York Jets secondary that is dealing with injuries and could feature three rookie starters. Herbert has thrown for at least two touchdowns in six consecutive games, an NFL record for a rookie. He also has four 300-yard passing days. Three quarterbacks have passed for at least 300 yards against the Jets, including Buffalo’s Josh Allen twice. New York gave up 416 yards passing and five touchdowns to Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes in Week 8. Only four teams have surrendered more points than the Jets, who rank 29th against the pass. New York was leading New England late in the fourth quarter two weeks ago but gave up 13 points in the final 6:04 to lose 30-27.

When Jets have the ball: With Sam Darnold out with a shoulder injury, Joe Flacco will make his second consecutive start and fourth of the season. He was a Super Bowl winner with the 2012 Baltimore Ravens and now, at age 35, is with his third team. Flacco isn’t as productive as he once was, but he certainly is experienced enough to not bury his team in mistakes. “With a guy like Flacco,” Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said, “they can get hot at any time.” Though that assessment might be a bit strong, the idea is that Flacco has the ability to cause the Chargers issues. Still, the Jets offensively have been brutal. They’re last in the NFL in points, yards passing and total yards per game. They’ve also been the league’s worst team on third down and in the red zone, areas the Chargers’ defense has been better than most. New York has topped 17 points only twice in nine games and been limited to 10 or fewer points five times. For people who love nostalgia, the Jets do feature Frank Gore, a 37-year-old running back who is still capable enough to be the team’s leading rusher.

When they kick: After a couple shaky weeks, Michael Badgley had a mundane return to Miami, where he played collegiately. Badgley was limited to three extra-point tries, making them all. He’s 14 of 19 on field-goal attempts and 22 of 24 on extra points. Jets kicker Sam Ficken is questionable because of a groin injury. If he can’t play, Sergio Castillo, a former CFL kicker, will replace him. Castillo has made six of seven field goals and all four of his extra points in three games.

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(Los Angeles Times)

Jeff Miller’s prediction: Picking against the Chargers has been easy of late as the team’s epic struggles threaten to become part of NFL lore. A loss to the winless Jets, however, would be next-level failure, which is not meant to suggest it’s an impossibility. “Any Given Sunday” will be the 2020 Chargers’ epitaph.

CHARGERS 27, JETS 23

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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