Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer 298d

Chargers OC Ken Whisenhunt: Better execution needed on money down

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers' production on offense, an expected strength of this team, has been uneven through two weeks.

The Chargers are averaging just 19 points per game (tied for 18th in the NFL) and 308 yards per game (20th in the league).

One of the issues for the Chargers has been the inability to convert on third down. The team has converted just 25 percent of its third downs through two games, third-worst in the NFL.

Traditionally, the Chargers have been one of the best teams on third down. Entering this season dating back to 2013, the Chargers had converted 44.6 percent of their third-down opportunities -- only the New Orleans Saints were better during that span (47.1 percent).

Converting third downs for this offense is important because it helps the Chargers control the tempo of the game and put the offense into scoring position.

Offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said the team’s issues in that situation are two-fold -- getting into manageable third-down situations and avoiding crippling penalties that set the Bolts back offensively.

“In the first game we were in third-and-long a lot, and that was tough,” Whisenhunt said. “The Miami game we only had eight third downs, which means you’re doing a lot of good things on first and second down. And we had three penalties in those eight tries. You can’t do that.

“That’s what hurt us the most. If you convert a couple of those third downs, it’s a whole different story for us because of the way we’ve been moving the football. We jumped offsides and had a holding penalty. On both of those drives we would have gotten points.”

Despite the Chargers’ struggles on third down, quarterback Philip Rivers said ultimately the offense has to score.

“I know we’ve got to score more points than we’ve been scoring,” Rivers said. “Our defense is giving up 24 and 19, we should win those games. Offensively, we’re doing some good things. We’ve just got to put more points on the board. That’s our job. Score more points than the other team.

“We haven’t done that the first two go-rounds. They’ve (Kansas City Chiefs) got a good offense, a good defense. They’re arguably the hottest team in the league right now. It’s going to be a heck of a challenge, but one I think we’re gonna be up for.”

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