It obvious that the San Diego Chargers have not lived up to expectations thus far. The first three games have been filled with sloppy play, penalties, lack of depth and good ‘ole fashion drama. But how much worse can it get?
There seems to be certain years where injuries hit teams especially hard. And, if the first month of the season has been any indication, this may be one of those years for the Chargers.
After losing rookie linebacker Donald Butler in the preseason, Stephen Cooper, Shawne Merriman, Larry English and Jyles Tucker (did not miss time with an injury, but still missed time) have all missed time on the defense. To make matters worse, the offense has already had its starting running back miss a game, and the starting right guard will likely be out for a few weeks.
The most obvious trickle down of these players being unavailable has been on special teams – I feel like that's been examined enough this week so I’ll spare the readership - but it also can be seen with the lack of depth on offense and defense. Players are being forced to play more downs which causes even more injuries and more sloppy play.
Included in this sloppy play has been the severe case of fumblitis that the team seems unable to shake. As a team in 2009 the Chargers fumbled the ball just seven times, this year they have a combined five fumbles in three games. This has led to a total Giveaway/Takeaway figure of -1, good for 10th in the AFC. Last year the Chargers were second in the league with a +8 differential.
Without their two holdout Pro Bowlers, the offense has not been as squeaky clean as the number one league ranking may say. While the statistics look impressive at first, they are far from what they will likely end up.
Philip Rivers is currently averaging 362 yards per game through the air. Even the record-setting 2007 Patriots offense averaged just a little over 300 per game. Also, the Chargers yards per reception are almost a full two yards ahead of the second best passing attack in the AFC. Include the fact that Rivers is getting sacked at a higher rate than ever before in his career – 2.33 per game – and you get a recipe for letdown.
Possibly the most shocking aspect so far has been that the opening game of the season was blacked out locally. Add in that it looks like the second game may be also unavailable in local markets and this quickly becomes a tough situation. While it is easy to blame rough financial times for many San Diegans, it cannot be discounted that a large portion of the 48 consecutive sellouts that the team had accrued prior to the start of this season had also come during the current national recession.
Say for a second that the Chargers are 3-3 when the New England Patriots come into town on October 24 in Week 7. With the way that fan support has been a roller-coaster ride this season based on wins and losses, if they lose that game it could mean a few more blackouts this season.
All for a franchise that has won the division four out of the last five years.
While there is still a good chance that San Diego will come back and possibly win this division, the percentages and the momentum are certainly against them. The return of Marcus McNeill and restoration of former special teamers like Eric Weddle to kick coverages will certainly help those odds, but it doesn’t seem like this team has another magical 11-game win streak up their sleeve so the winning has to start now.
Labels: NFL Season 2010 Week 4
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