Hobbled Chargers Head Into Bye Week At The Perfect Time

It wasn’t that long ago that the Chargers starting wide receivers were well known amongst the team’s fan base and carried big expectations for breakout years up and down the depth chart. Malcolm Floyd was being counted on to fill the big shoes left by Vincent Jackson’s absence. Legedu Naanee was expected to compliment Floyd, while Buster Davis was provided the opportunity earn the large contract provided to him as the Chargers’ first selection in the 2007 draft. And that’s all in addition to the team’s top receiving option, tight-end Antonio Gates.

So much for that idea.

Sunday saw Philip Rivers’ original top four receiving options (five counting the suspended Jackson) out of the lineup. Thank goodness for Patrick Crayton, who was the only wide receiver in the game with any significant amount of NFL experience. Besides Crayton, the Chargers were down to 6th string wide-out Seji Ajirotutu and 7th stringer Gary Banks. But it didn’t matter, because Rivers still through for 295 yards and four touchdowns.

Can you say Phillip Rivers, 2010 MVP?

At this point in the season the Chargers quarterback has already completed passes to 14 different players, and is in the midst of a season for the record books. In my opinion, the only thing that could hold him back from real MVP contention is a team-wide collapse unseen in San Diego since before Rivers took over behind center. He is on pace to throw for over 5,200 yards and 33 touchdowns. Given Rivers stellar performance and a well-timed bye week to heal up a sore Chargers team, a winning record and a playoff berth should be well within their grasp.

Special Teams, Special Times

The Chargers have effectively given up five blocked punts in their first nine games, equaling the total number of blocked punts in the rest of the league. Bad blocking, poor tackling, and just stupid mistakes have earned the Chargers the title of “Possibly The Worst Special Teams Ever”. Congratulations!

The bye week is the perfect time to make big changes on the coaching staff or roster. You might remember it was a bye week when the Chargers fired Defensive Coordinator Ted Cottrell in 2008. But don’t expect a similar move to be made this season in regard to the Chargers’ special teams coach. Coach Norv Turner has made it very clear that he has confidence in special teams coach Steve Crosby, saying “There are about five guys I’d let go before him.” My emotional side wants Crosby fired. My more logical side knows that it’s not the coach who is the weak link on the punt team. The problem lies with the inexperienced players being added to the revolving door that has become the Chargers roster. Give the Chargers some stability on the special teams units and they will be OK.

Lightning Strikes:

- Sunday’s win over the Houston Texans was another example of poor clock management by the Chargers at the end of the first half. With timeouts to spare and his defense on the field, Coach Norv neglected to call timeouts to stop the clock and attempt to save some time for his own offense, and also refused to attempt to get into field goal range using the timeouts he had saved when his offense took the field. Am I the only one who wonders if this is the result of the dual role of head coach and offensive coordinator that Turner plays on the Chargers’ sideline?

- It looked like rookie Ryan Mathews finally had it all clicking... until his 3rd fumble of the season, which led to a Texans’ score. He eventually left the game due to injury.

- Mathews, Larry English, Buster Davis are three of the Chargers last four first round draft picks, and all have missed significant time this season due to injury. If you include Antonio Cromartie and Shawne Merriman, that is five of the Chargers last six draft picks who have failed to fully live up to expectations (although I am more than willing to give Mathews the benefit of the doubt at this early stage of his career).

- The Chargers’ face the Broncos, Raiders, and Chiefs, all at home, in three of their next four games. With the Chiefs leading the division at 5-3 and the Raiders embracing a newfound confidence on their 3-game win streak, you can no longer call those games easy victories. Or can you? What is your prediction for the Chargers after the bye week?

November 10, 2010

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Edward Roberts said... Nov 10, 2010, 10:29:00 AM

I think the Chargers have a very real chance of finishing 10-6. If they can get healthy (and reasonably maintain it), at least improve the Special Teams to be neutral factor (neither give to or take away from the teams overall performance) and maintain a solid running game, I think the division and conference should be petrified to play us.

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