At 6-6, Where Do The Bolts Go From Here?

The San Diego Chargers have dropped to 6-6 on the season after their second straight loss to the Oakland Raiders. With playoff hopes all but lost for the year, where does the team go from here?

The once unblemished December record of Bolts’ quarterback Philip Rivers now has the stain of a loss on it.

San Diego is now trailing the division leading Kansas City Chiefs by two games courtesy of KC’s 10-6 win over the Denver Broncos.

After thinking that nose tackle Antonio Garay could potentially be the answer to the team’s run stuffing troubles, the success that the Bolts experienced defensively a week ago was quickly dismissed by the Oakland Raiders multi-faceted rushing attack. Allowing 251 yards on 52 carries is beyond unacceptable in professional football. The Chargers were simply controlled at the point of attack on each and every snap by the guys in the trenches on the other side of the field and failed to rectify those errors throughout the course of a sixty minute contest.

Much of those failures have to fall back on the man in charge of this operation with Head Coach Norv Turner being unable to inspire any sort of fight out of his team following halftime. Instead the team suffered inexplicable BACK-TO-BACK too many men on the field penalties which suggests poor coaching and a mishandling of a situation to the max. When addressing those circumstances, Turner tried to explain how he and his staff managed to butcher the situation saying: “We thought we had it taken care of. It’s wrong. It shouldn’t happen.”

Really? You mean a ‘professional’ team getting paid to perform shouldn’t take consecutive mind-numbing penalties that would upset any Pop Warner coach worth their salt? Thanks for that newsflash.

As for the effort level (or lack thereof) seen out on the field, what it really says about this football team is that maybe they are finally fed up with their current regime and have less than adequate motivation to go out and win for the head coach at present.

The bottom line is that much like the issues on special teams earlier in the year were more about desire than X’s and O’s, this team needs to show more heart and desire rather than focusing on the technical aspects of the game. Football 101 tells you that losing the turnover battle, the field position struggle, and having those two costly giveaways in the opening quarter of the game to spot your opponent a 14-point lead is not the recipe for success.

What this game really proved is that Turner was unable to adapt and learn from the first chapter of this series with the Raiders. This may have been a different game with a different venue, but the story remained the same with miscues and mismanagement of certain situations dooming this Chargers team.

Perhaps the most baffling aspect was the one-dimensional nature of a team offensively that just one week ago ran the ball well controlling the clock and moving the chains. Turner and his suspect play-calling went off of the deep end in this game with just eight (that’s right, eight) running plays during the course of the entire contest. Completely abandoning the running game in this fashion seemed like a thing of the past for this club, but apparently old habits die hard for the Bolts’ head coach and that could warrant his pink slip.

The frustration is clearly coming to a boiling point in San Diego, but despite this inexplicable debacle, the team still has a legitimate chance to make the postseason as the AFC West’s representative if they can right the ship over the course of the next month. Aside from the Chiefs scheduled visit to Qualcomm Stadium next week, the Bolts remaining docket is quite tame and could potentially lead to a 10-win season. This falls far short of expectations from the preseason, but all the team can be hoping for now is a seat in the tournament known as the NFL Playoffs.

If the Chargers cannot manage that with the state of their division, it could very well be the end of an error, errr era, in San Diego with Norv Turner at the helm.

Here’s the handoff. Did the Raiders expose a fundamental weakness in the Bolts defensively on the ground or did the coaching staff just fail to adjust as the game progressed? Does Norv Turner have any real control over this football team or is he simply a dead-man-walking if the Bolts fail to make the playoffs? Was the lack of a running game more due to the absence of Ryan Mathews from the active roster this week or did the coaching staff just abandon the ground attack far too soon? Does this team still have what it takes to be a playoff team and make a realistic push deep into the postseason or will they falter down the stretch and watch the playoffs from home this year? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

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December 7, 2010

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