I’m having trouble figuring this one out. Are the Chargers a good team that always finds a way to lose, or a bad team that almost finds a way to win?
If the Chargers are a good team, then Chargers fans have a right to wonder what happened over the last four games, all losses, and the longest losing streak since 2003. Coach Norv Turner should be on the hottest of hot seats, although the team is still in the hunt for the AFC West championship and anything can happen over the next two months.
If the Chargers are a bad team, then fans should be almost happy about how competitive these last four games have been. With the mounting injuries and a lack of depth, and because of an overall deterioration of talent over the last few years, you might say the Chargers are lucky to still be this competitive. If a lack of talent is the problem, it’s a problem that falls squarely on GM AJ Smith’s shoulders.
I’ll let you, the Chargers fans, discuss who this team is. I’m expecting it to be a lively discussion.
Let me just add that good team or bad, I don’t know any team who could easily overcome the loss of three starting offensive lineman in one game. The only quality blocker who made it through the game was Nick Hardwick, and Philip Rivers should feel lucky to have had him. Last night’s performance could have been even worse.
Onto the good (there was good?) and bad from last night’s loss to the Raiders.
Philip Rivers: I’m going to give major props to the Chargers franchise QB. He got his butt kicked all night long but never gave up. Plus, he threw more touchdowns than interceptions (although easily could have thrown more INT's against a better secondary).
Antwan Barnes: Barnes’ motor is running on every play, and it shows. No player can get a sack on every down, but if you give 100% on every play eventually you will make a difference. Barnes’ sack/forced fumble in the 3rd quarter kept the Chargers in the game.
Toughness: Or a lack thereof. I have never seen a team get so consistently physically beaten up by a division rival than when the Chargers face the much tougher Raiders of recent years. If you wonder why the Chargers are often called a finesse team, just watch tapes of any of the Chargers/Raiders games from the last few seasons.
Sacks: The Chargers gave up six sacks against the Raiders, and it felt like Rivers got hit on every other play that wasn’t sack. Brandon Dombrowski got worked coming off the bench, but the rest of the offensive line wasn’t much better. NFL Network's Mike Mayock pointed out how poor Dombrowski and Jeromey Clary are against speed rushers. Then they proceeded to prove him right.
The Chargers secondary: They look old, they look slow, and they look to be an average unit at best. I’ll give Paul Oliver some recognition for playing well, and it will be interesting to see if he remains in the starting lineup going forward.
Vincent Jackson: The Chargers number-one receiver was mostly a no show. It’s hard to get wide open when Rivers is getting hit in less than two-seconds, but VJ will forever be remembered for giving up on a 4th quarter pass in the end zone that resulted in an INT. Might have been a bad choice by Rivers to throw that ball, but those are the throws Rivers has always gotten away with because of the effort of his receivers. Except for this season.
The Chargers are either good or bad. They aren't both. I really want to hear your thoughts: Are the Chargers a good team losing games or a bad team almost winning games?
Follow Jeff Williams on Twitter: @JSWilliams75
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