Let’s get this out of the way: the Chargers lost to a better team on Sunday in Boston. Even the most diehard Chargers fans have to admit to not being surprised at that outcome. Losing to a team like the Vikings last week, or the Chiefs next week is unacceptable. Losing to the Patriots on the road, that is understandable and almost to be expected. But the way they lost, in a game they actually could have won, that is what is so infuriating to most Chargers fans. The 2011 season was supposed to be a turnaround for a team that missed the playoffs for the first time in five seasons. Slow starts, a signature trait of recent Charger teams, were to be behind them, and mistakes would be held to a minimum. Neither statement has been proven true, at least not yet, and on the subject of turnovers, the Chargers are at serious risk of continuing a disturbing trend set last season.
In 2010, the Chargers had a –6 turnover ratio. This season they currently sit at –5. Giving away the ball more than you take it back is hardly a winning statistic, even this early in the year. And worse, of Philip Rivers’ four interceptions, all have been thrown in the opponents’ territory, while driving for a score.
These Chargers hung with the Patriots for most of Sunday’s game, but in the end, it was turnovers on offense and a lack of takeaways on defense that ruined their east coast trip.
“With a chance to go up by one, we turn the ball over,” said Quentin Jammer, who had an easy interception bounce of his hands late in the game. Jammer’s words describe the Chargers’ offensive failures quite succinctly, while his actions, and the actions of his defensive teammates, demonstrated defensive problems that must be addressed. Offensive turnovers are not the only problem. A lack of defensive takeaways is hurting the team almost as much.
After a loss there is always plenty of bad to gripe about. But let me start with the good.
- Ryan Mathews More and more, Mathews is looking like an NFL player, and a potentially game changing player at that. He looks strong and quick, and is playing more confidently now than in his rookie season.
- Vincent Jackson Ten receptions for 172 yards and two touchdowns. AJ needs to pay the man, like yesterday. Tomorrow is the deadline to sign Franchise tagged players to long-term extensions…I’m just saying.
- Philip Rivers Statistically, he had a decent game. Beyond the passing yards, he has turned the ball over five times in the first two games. Unacceptable.
- Mike Tolbert From hero to goat, another game, another fumble for a Chargers running back. I firmly believe that a fumble by a Chargers running back should lead to his immediate benching, although that would likely mean that Jordan Todman would be carrying the ball halfway through the 2nd quarter. That is, if he were ever active on gameday.
- Poor play by Charger safeties I haven’t heard a lot of talk about the play of the safeties on Sunday, but Eric Weddle had a bad game and Bob Sanders was a non-factor. Don’t let his game-leading tackle stats fool you (it’s rarely a good sign when your DB leads the team in tackles), Weddle missed tackles and stunk in pass coverage. He is failing to meet the lofty expectations created by the fat contract he signed before the season.
- Greg Manusky The Chargers new defensive coordinator was brought in to add an aggressive attitude to the team’s defensive schemes, yet Sunday’s game was filled with three or four-man rushes. Since when has an elite quarterback ever been beaten by a lack of an aggressive pass rush?
- Norv Turner Coach Norv gets blamed for a lot things that are not his fault. He did not fumble the ball or throw an interception in Sunday’s loss. But he more than contributed to the loss in his own way. First, this team needs Patrick Crayton on the field. His contributions on offense, in my opinion, outweigh the special teams contributions of a younger, less talented player. Once Floyd was lost to injury, and with Gates double and triple covered throughout the game, Jackson was left as the only real threat beyond five-yards. Richard Goodman and Brian Walters are not good enough to win a tough game, and you can’t expect VJ to win it by himself (although he tried his best), so if Crayton is healthy, he needs to be active. Second, the Chargers inability to score from the five-yard line and one-yard line is as much coaching and play-calling as it is player effort and ability. A big man running sideways is rarely the beginning of a successful play. LT would have scored a touchdown there.
Chargers fans, we are justifiably pissed-off about this week two loss against the Patriots. What are you most frustrated about in this the first loss of the season?
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