The first punt blocked off the foot of Los Angeles Chargers punter Drew Kaser in his career was a kick in the pants for coach Anthony Lynn in his team’s quest to upend crosstown rival Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
Kaser had punted 141 times in his NFL career without having one blocked until the Rams stuffed No. 142 on Sunday, resulting in a touchdown in a 35-23 loss.
The blocked punt was a focus of discussion in Lynn’s weekly Monday press conference.
“We gotta do a better job of executing that with our punter, No. 1,” Lynn said. “You don’t take a three-step approach when you’re backed up like that. One step and get the ball out. The ball should be gone.”
Standing deep in his end zone, with the ball at the Chargers’ 4-yard line, Kaser took the snap but did not rush to get the punt away. By the time he punted the ball, the Rams’ Cory Littleton was in position to make the block.
Lynn faulted the Chargers’ blockers about breaking down in front of Kaser but he was most critical of his punter’s hesitancy to get the ball out of there.
“Protection backed up like that is going to be a little iffy because they’re going to rush and you can’t get depth because you don’t have the depth to give,” Lynn said. “So there was some leakage there coming up the middle. But that ball could have been gone.”
Kaser was drafted in the sixth-round pick by the Chargers in 2016. During his career at Texas A&M, he punted 168 times without having one blocked.
The block Sunday occurred after Derwin James intercepted Jared Goff in the end zone but stepped out of bounds at the one-yard line. Melvin Gordon the ran twice for no gain before Philip hit Gordon for only a three-yard gain, setting up fourth down.
Another play that drew Lynn’s ire was rookie linebacker Kyzir White getting called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after he stood over the Rams’ Robert Woods and taunted him. The Chargers have been flagged for that kind of penalty in consecutive weeks.
Against Buffalo on Sept. 16, Desmond King was flagged after making a kicking motion toward the Bills’ Zay Jones following a third-down stop.
“We don’t do that here,” Lynn said. “Kyzir wasn’t even sure that he was wrong in what he did. That’s got to be corrected. We won’t have another one of those, I promise you.”
Another sore spot: The Chargers sacking Goff only once (by defensive tackle Brandon Mebane). The Rams amassed 521 yards of total offense, including 350 through the air with Goff having plenty of time to throw.
“We didn’t put enough pressure on the quarterback,” Lynn said. “I think in the first half (Goff) was completing about 90 percent of his passes. … We have to figure out a way to get pressure on the quarterback. That’s what’s missing right now.”
–RB Justin Jackson was promoted from the practice squad after RB Detrez Newsome was waived. Jackson was drafted in the seventh round in April and was out for most of the preseason because of a hamstring injury. “We want to see (Jackson),” Lynn said. “We didn’t have him for the preseason. I get a chance to look at him now.”
–WR Mike Williams had career-highs in receiving yards (81) and touchdown catches (two) against the Rams on Sunday. His touchdown receptions included putting the Chargers on the board with the first one and converting on fourth down with the second.
–DT Brandon Mebane registered his first sack of the year and second big play of the game when he brought down Rams QB Jared Goff on second down, leading to 3rd and 14. The impact of this sack was wasted as the Chargers gave up a first down on the following play due to a penalty.
–S Derwin James caught his first interception of the season when Goff attempted a pass in the end zone. James attempted to stay in the end zone and force a touchback but instead jumped over the line, going out of bounds at the one-yard line and putting the Chargers offense in a precarious situation. The Rams would block a punt after the Chargers could not get a first down. The blocked punt resulted in a touchdown.
–WR Travis Benjamin (right foot injury) did not play against the Rams after he was listed as questionable before the game. He missed his second consecutive game and his status remains questionable for Sunday’s game at home against the San Francisco 49ers.