The Chargers sit at 2-5, and to say that Chargers fans are frustrated would be an understatement. It would be one thing if the Chargers were obviously lacking in talent, but that does not seem to be the case. In reality, this team is playing some good defense and Philip Rivers has been playing out of this world. Unfortunately, that hasn't been enough to put the Chargers on the right side of the win column. Seven weeks into the season, how do the Chargers salvage their season?
The usual reaction from many fans is to call for the firing of coach Norv Turner and/or General Manager AJ Smith. Neither would be a horrible call in my book, but those moves realistically are not an option, especially under current ownership and at this point in the season. I hate to say it, but firing AJ isn't going to make anyone better this year, and firing Turner may actually make the best facet of your team (the offense) worse.
Given what the Chargers have to work with, here are changes that can be made that I believe can fix some of the problems facing the Chargers.
1. Go Hurry-Up. The Chargers have lost five games this season by an average of 5.6 points a game. In reality, with the number of boneheaded plays made in those five losses, the scores should not have been that close. If not for the gamesmanship of Rivers, the Chargers would have been blown out in most if not all of those losses. Rivers has proven to be one of the premiere QB's in the game this season, so if no one is willing to step up around him, I'm more than willing to initiate a hurry-up, two-minute style offense and let Rivers run the show. It has worked for many great QB's over the years (Jim Kelly and John Elway were dominant in that style of offense), and Rivers has shown glimpses of that greatness in every game this season.
2. Meet Your 2010 Starting RB, Mike Tolbert. The Chargers have not had a great rushing offense since 2007 (or arguably 2008). This year they have had their moments, but generally speaking this is still not a good rushing team, and rookie Ryan Mathews has been of no help. Tolbert has been a consistent performer when those tough yards are needed, and he has the legs to break a few long runs in the process. To beef up the running game and provide a little balance to the offense, Tolbert should be starting and getting the bulk of the playing time in the backfield. Not only can he make poor run-blocking look good, but he can provide the pass-blocking desperately needed in this offense, which is currently being handled primarily by Darren Sproles. Sproles and Mathews can split the role of change-of-pace running back.
3. Play Dirty. We've heard the rap before- the Chargers are a finesse team...they are not physical enough...they don't have a killer instinct. Their style of play is too predictable, too timid, too easily rattled... This season you can add just plain "dumb" to that reputation. I think it's time to build a new reputation. Rather than making stupid penalties before the snap, or well after the snap, how about playing mean and dirty during the play? Conjure the spirits of Rodney Harrison and Mike Goff, and starting knocking some people around. Defensively, go lay the wood on any player coming over the middle whether he has the ball or not. Offensively, lay-out anyone playing on the line. And if an opposing player lays a hand on Rivers, that's the guy you should be busting up with a double-team on the next play. Stop playing stupid, and start playing mean!
4. Shorten The Leash. The concept of benching a guy who is having a bad game is hardly a novel concept, but the Chargers need to take that concept to the next level. We need to see the coaching staff shorten the leash on these players who seem to perform so poorly at critical moments in each game. It's easy to say that when a Richard Goodman loses a fumble on a stupid play, but what happens when a Tolbert or a Gates loses one? What happens when a lineman misses a key block in pass-protection? I say you bench them, and show the team that no one will stand for these mental lapses any longer.
5. Fire Norv And AJ. OK, I said that's not going to happen, at least not during the regular season. But if all else fails, how can you not fire the people directly responsible for watching this team continue to underperform in some way each season? If the Chargers miss the playoffs with a team that Turner said could be one of the best during his tenure in San Diego, how can you not hold the coach and/or his boss directly responsible for it's failure?
I suspect that there are a few other great ideas for turning this team around. Comment below and share your solutions for this mess...maybe Norv is reading!
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