Here we are again: another Monday morning, another dreadful performance on the road by the San Diego Chargers to think about after the Bolts (2-4) fell to the St. Louis Rams (3-3) 20-17 on Sunday afternoon.
I usually fill this space with the various things I liked and didn’t like from the previous day’s game, but this week there’s absolutely nothing to like.
It’s time for Chargers fans to wake up, even if the team they cheer for tends not to on Sundays. This team is two games below .500 and the annual Norv Turn September Slump has now lasted halfway through October.
Those blinded by love for the Chargers will list any number of excuses about this team’s early struggles.
I know that Legedu Naanee didn’t play and I know that Antonio Gates left the game injured, as did Malcolm Floyd, leaving Philip Rivers (22-37, 249 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) without his normal downfield threats. I know the Chargers are still realistically in the hunt for the AFC West Division crown considering that the Chiefs (lost two straight), Raiders (lost to the 49ers) and Broncos sit at 2-4 also.
And yes, I know that the past few years the Bolts have put together impressive late season runs to win the division – only to ultimately stumble in the playoffs.
Which is exactly my point. Teams that win in the playoffs find ways to win on the road. This Chargers team has not, with all four losses coming away from Qualcomm Stadium.
Teams that win in the playoffs win the turnover battle, which the Chargers lost yet again. Their one giveaway was particularly costly with Rivers being picked off in the end zone in the first quarter.
Teams that win in the playoffs don’t fall behind 17-0 no matter who they’re playing, let alone when they’re playing a team starting a rookie quarterback coming off a blowout loss to the Detroit Lions the week before.
Teams that win in the playoffs don’t go 1-2 against the NFC West, widely regarded as the worst division in the NFL.
What was the NFL’s top offense couldn’t even protect its quarterback in St. Louis on Sunday. Sure, left tackle Marcus McNeill made his return from a lengthy hold out boasting his new multi-million dollar contract, yet Rivers was sacked seven times on the day. Of course, when he had the time to throw his receivers tended to drop it anyway.
Speaking of drops, perhaps the defense should go back to the basics of catching with the Chargers’ wide receivers this week. The defense dropped what should have been two interceptions, including a Stephen Cooper drop that should have gone the other way for six.
The ground game was nonexistent, which has a lot to do with falling behind early. Ryan Mathews carried the ball 12 times for 64 yards. Mike Tolbert averaged a beastly 1 yard per carry (albeit with a touchdown) and lately it seems the only place Darren Sproles has been running is to the bank with his beefy paychecks.
And special teams were predictably dreadful on Sunday. Mike Scifres averaged an impressive 59.5 yards per punt, but two of them went into the endzone as touchbacks and another was returned 42 yards. Nate Kaeding, meanwhile, is reportedly dealing with a tweaked groin and had a field goal blocked. Think those three points could have helped?
It’s not going to get any easier. The remaining three games before the week 10 bye bring the Patriots (4-1) and Titans (3-2 before tonight’s game) to San Diego before going to Houston to play the Texans (4-2).
So what is your take? Will the Chargers win three straight and go into the bye above .500, or will they continue to slip and be obsolete in the playoff hunt? Who’s to blame – the players for not executing, the coaches for not game planning better, or management for not putting more talent on the field? Is this the year where the Chargers’ dominance of the AFC West finally comes to a halt?
Voice your opinion below – feel free to vent a bit. I know you need it.
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