If you’re anything like me, you’re at a loss for an explanation. The Chargers' fourth straight 2-3 start had me believing one way, but Sunday’s horrible showing in St. Louis has made me question everything I believe about the 2010 Chargers. What was different and is there one person to blame?
Up until Sunday, the losses could be chalked up primarily to fluke plays in multiple areas; areas that seemed easily correctable through focus or the ball bouncing a different direction.
Sunday’s loss makes me think that what I previously thought to be flukes aren’t. It’s the worst loss I can remember of the last 4 seasons. The Chargers were beaten, not by shooting themselves in the foot, but actually beaten in all three phases.
The Chargers gained just 287 yards on offense when they had been averaging well over 400. That basically represents 2 trips down the field. On 5 of their 11 possessions they lasted only 3 downs before having to punt. This resulted in them only keeping the ball for 26 minutes.
Rivers was under non-stop pressure which contributed to his uncharacteristically low 77.4 passer rating. And the Chargers were down early which forced the Chargers to get away from the running game.
The defense was still relatively strong, but unable to come up with key stops toward the end of the game and made several key mistakes with dropped interception opportunities. They gave up around 30 yards more than normal on the ground.
It felt different than all the other games. The first 5 games, as a fan, you felt like the team dominated other than four or five key mistakes. Sunday, it felt like the Chargers were dominated.
Philip Rivers agrees. “Yesterday was different to me than the other games,” Rivers said. “The other games we made eye-opening, critical mistakes ... Yesterday, it was some of the little things creeping in that usually don’t happen. And when you are in a game like that, they are the difference. We just didn’t play very well. I thought we played a lot better in Oakland but made the key errors. Yesterday, I felt as a game as a whole, we just didn’t play very well.”
Football is the ultimate team sport. It’s very difficult to single out one player or coach. But someone or multiple people have to be blamed for the poor performance. Before, we were trying to figure out who to blame for the mental mistakes and breakdowns. Now, we’re trying to figure out who to blame for a decline in total team performance.
I’m at a loss. My gut says Norv because he has a history of letdowns, and ultimately he runs what happens on Sundays. But I don’t know if he can be totally blamed. To me, it goes back to football being the ultimate team sport. The team includes the owners, front office people, coaches, trainers, doctors, and players. All these team members must be working in concert to achieve a common goal. Clearly that’s not happening right now, but I don’t know if we can pinpoint exactly who’s not doing their part.
Right now it feels all doom and gloom for the 2010 Chargers, but perhaps there’s cause for optimism: The New England Patriots. There’s a reason Vegas is favoring the Chargers by a field goal (Who’s going to be kicking that field goal is an unknown).
The Pats may be just what the doctor ordered for the ailing (literally and figuratively) Chargers. In the Patriots 2 regular season trips to Qualcomm since 2000, the Chargers have won both times. Bill Belichick has faced 17 teams at least twice on the road in the regular season as Patriots head coach. Only one of those teams has he yet to beat: The San Diego Chargers. Maybe he's due. Or maybe the Chargers have his number.
Is Vegas wrong? Do the Chargers have a chance against the improving Patriots? And who, if anyone, can be blamed for an overall poor performance against the Rams?
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