Chargers: 4-4 With A Bullet


There is no such thing as a good loss. Period. That being said, the Chargers’ performance this past Sunday against the Green Bay Packers was the closest thing to it. Sure, Philip Rivers was again a bit wild in both his decision making and some of his throws, but the truth is that he and Vincent Jackson only further solidified their rapport as one of the best quarterback/wide receiver duos in all of the NFL.

It’s still difficult to understand why Rivers has had such a tough time getting comfortable this season as far as his demeanor is concerned. Clearly the offensive line has struggled in stretches to keep the signal caller clean, but even when he has plenty of time to survey the field, something seems amiss with Rivers.

Even Chargers’ ownership is a bit baffled at the quarterback’s struggles this year as Dean Spanos told NBC’s Alex Flanagan in a recent interview that: “Sometimes you just have an off year. That is what Philip Rivers is having so far.”

It isn’t uncommon for owners to express their displeasure with certain coaches or even the occasional player at times, but this comment seems even more damning in many ways. Just the fact that Spanos is willing to categorize Rivers’ entire SEASON as an ‘off year’ already has to raise some red flags for fans expecting a vote of confidence for their quarterback rather than a shovelful of dirt thrown onto his 2011 campaign.

In typical fighter-mentality, Rivers told the North County Times: "Regardless of what's happened thus far, good or bad, we can't change it. We have an eight-game season, and it starts on Thursday night. All four teams are alive, and it should be interesting to see what happens." The eight game season does indeed begin Thursday night and will be a quick turnaround for a Chargers team that scored 38 points in a losing effort Sunday versus Green Bay.

The help provided to the Bolts this past weekend was incredible with the Denver Broncos rising up to beat the Oakland Raiders while the once winless Miami Dolphins took down the Kansas City Chiefs. Now the AFC West logjam with three teams tied at 4-4 and Denver just one game back at 3-5 will sort itself out over the back half of the 2011 season. Those eight upcoming games really are all that the Chargers can control at this point and their crucial tilt on Thursday with the Raiders will play a big role in determining the direction of the division.

Despite all of the outside criticism that Rivers has drawn thus far in 2011 he has been adamant that there is “nothing different” about him as a player or his approach to the game. Perhaps it is the Chargers coaching staff that needs a different outlook on the game as Rivers has been asked to throw the ball 39.75 times on average in the team’s four losses this season when even without their number one running back in Ryan Mathews this past week, the Bolts showed the ability to run effectively with Mike Tolbert making the most of his 19 carries for 83 yards.

There were countless times on Sunday when Tolbert would tote the ball with success on first down only to have a second down incompletion again put the team behind the chains. The play-calling again has to come under scrutiny with Norv Turner’s pass-happy mentality putting the Bolts at an offensive disadvantage against the Packers who had no answer for the grinding running of Tolbert.

With more dedication to sticking with the running game, plenty of opportunities would be opened up for play action passes as a result. Antonio Gates had his strongest outing of the year on Sunday looking like the physical mismatch that Bolts fans fondly remember, but with a viable run-threat on a play-by-play basis, Gates’ effectiveness would only be elevated that much more.

In reality, the Chargers are just reliving season’s past in 2011 to this point with more of the same questionable play calling by their mediocre head coach and more of the same ambivalence in terms of results with a 4-4 record to this point. This team has the talent to win on a regular basis and the leadership on the field to do so as well, but unfortunately the man on the sidelines calling the shots is holding the reigns and steering them in the wrong direction.

As the painful losses pile up for this team and Turner continues to hold no one accountable while simply making more lame excuses, ask yourself this: Was Rex Ryan right in saying that he would already have a ‘couple of rings’ had he been coaching the Chargers over the last handful of years?

Now it’s your chance to be heard! Do you think that the offense made some positive strides on Sunday or was it more of the same struggles from Rivers? Was it okay for Dean Spanos to say what he did about Rivers or would those comments have been better kept in-house? Will the desperation-mode that the Bolts currently find themselves in heighten their sense of urgency and improve their play or will they crumble under the pressure of must-win on a week-to-week basis? Would a consistent dedication to running the ball and play action passing help the offense to avoid costly mistakes? Do you think Rex Ryan had a point in the shots he took at Norv Turner two weeks ago? Please fill up the comments section below with your input!

November 9, 2011

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