It is all about getting to the finish line for this Chargers team. They showed promise all season, but the sails have fallen off, and now it is about showing fight but getting the highest pick possible for the draft next year.
That is what they did on Sunday in their 16-9 loss to their division rival Denver Broncos.
In what is a forgettable year because of their underperforming, the firing of the head coach/general manager, and the injuries, they are just one game from the season-ending.
On defense, they showed similarities to what they did to Josh Allen and the Bills last Saturday, but they also displayed their tendencies that led to losses.
On the Broncos’ fourth offensive drive, the Chargers rushed six players when Jarrett Stidham found receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey for a solid gain that turned into a 54-yard touchdown because of five missed tackles by the defense.
Stidham finished 20-for-32 for 224 yards and one touchdown.
The Broncos showed a healthy mix of running backs Javonte Williams, Samaje Perine and Jaleel McLaughlin on their second offensive drive. They combined nine touches for 40 yards, leading to a 32-yard Will Lutz field goal.
The Chargers obviously lost quarterback Justin Herbert when they last played the Broncos. Easton Stick has been serviceable.
The offense struggled on Sunday to get anything going, especially scoring touchdowns.
For the negative, running back Austin Ekeler fumbled for the fourth time this season. He has had a lackluster contract year, so his free agency will be intriguing to monitor.
Stidham and the offense had 1st-and-goal at the one, but the offense stalled. Lutz hit the 20-yard field goal to go up 16-6.
On their fourth offensive drive, Stick threw a pass to Alex Erickson, who made safety P.J. Locke miss the tackle and turned it into a 27-yard gain. He finished with 98 yards on seven catches. The drive finished with a Cameron Dicker 36-yard field goal.
Three drives later, Stick drove them on a nine-play 58-yard drive that featured two big plays to two tight ends—one 22-yard catch and run by tight end Gerald Everett and then an 18-yard reception by Stone Smartt.
Stick finished the game 24-for-38 for 220 yards.
These games are auditions for next year, and regardless of whether the Chargers draft or sign a tight end, they need Everett to return. He is a solid contributor and could help improve the offense.
Dicker tried an onside kick after getting the score down to 16-9, but the Broncos recovered and ended the game.
They currently sit at 5-11 with the sixth pick in the draft and one game left against Kansas City before their season ends. The offseason will be crucial for this organization.