Chargers offensive line to blame for collapse?

The San Diego Chargers lost Sunday to the Denver Broncos 23-30 and the thing is none of us are surprised regarding the outcome. The fans and reporters had expected the Chargers (4-6) to battle hard, but ultimately fall for the second time this season to the Denver Broncos and it's iconic quarterback, Peyton Manning. Chargers Nation was eerily quiet after the game compared to others when twitter, facebook and other social networking sites would blow up with fans keeping the lights on for the 2012 season in hopes that the often frustrating team would turn things around and make the playoffs.

However, this time was devoid of the mathematical and tactical chances of making the playoffs. Instead, comments centered around the changes that need to happen high above Chargers park, with everyone wearing the hat of General Manager and saying louder and louder that the current one needs to be shown the door. 

The blame for the crash and burn of another season is currently being pushed towards the team's quarterback, Philip Rivers, because he is the highest profile player on the team and because he's making bad calls on the field.
But if you look closer, the argument can be blamed that the blame can be spread all around.

My previous column "Who is to blame for Chargers loss?" focused on who was to blame for the season and the Chargers nation came out on fire after the team's record gained another loss. The team's shocking loss to the 
Tampa Bay Bucs was the last straw to many of the Charger faithful. Coach Norv Turner, seems to be on the hot seat each and every game and for a while #FireNorvTurner was trending on twitter.

As I examined where the blame could be placed for the Chargers latest troubles, one thing became shockingly apparent: the Chargers nation was becoming smaller. The Chargers fans have been given the title of "fair weather fans" who lack the passion and commitment of such fanbases as those in Green Bay or Philadelphia
where they will fill the stadium up with fans even if the team goes 2-15. Chargers fans are loyal, but blind loyalty in the face of high ticket prices and inept team management is a bit too much to ask for in any economy, especially this one. 

Although finding a scapegoat is almost second nature to even the most timid of fans, it's arguable that you can blame or credit one single player or person on a team's overall record. Tom Brady did not single-handedly send the Patriots to back-to-back Super Bowls any more than their coach. 

There were several contributing factors to the Chargers disappointing season. If the Chargers (or their fans) are intent on writing off this season and looking forward to 2013, then there are places that they can hope (or pray) the next administration takes heed of to avoid a season repeat. One of the most glaring holes revolves around Left Tacke Jared Gaither. I'm not the only one that's frustrated with the injured Gaither currently spending more time on the sideline wearing a sweatshirt than in pads and a helmet. His lack of presence,much less production, is killing the team's passing game. His backup, Brandyn Dombrowski also plagued with a foot injury has been absent for the season, leaving the task up to rookie free agent, Mike Harris.

The Chargers lack of a legit pass protection has caused Rivers to make some bad decisions this year. It seems you can't hear a discussion about Rivers' troubles without injecting the phrase "running for his life." The offensive line has been a huge disappointment. It's gotten so bad that observers have suggested he use more of the run game to maintain his survival. Unfortunately, the team's run blocking is not much better as Ryan Matthews gets stopped numerous times on the line of scrimmage. So if they can't run and they can't pass, then what happens?
The typical result is an endless amount of three and outs where Rivers gets sacked, forces a fumble, throws the ball away or treats us to one of those wonderful interceptions we are getting so used to seeing. Rivers currently leads the league with 14 interceptions and is tied for fourth in the league with 26 sacks and is easily poised to break last years total of 30 sacks.  In addition, he's already tied last season's total of 9 fumbles. In this instance, numbers don't  lie nor do they block oncoming defenders. 
The argument's been made that Rivers has regressed as a quarterback, but it's hard for that argument to stick with the team he's been saddled with. It's clear to see that he's become skittish and reluctant at times. Perhaps he's rushed, under pressure or just doesn't want to be another concussion statistic this season.When asked recently by an AP reporter, coach Turner admitted his concerns stating "Yeah, I am. I mean, I think for the quarterback position, all you've got to do is look at two weeks ago and there's  three or four guys that are laying on the ground with concussions or separate shoulders or whatever," Rivers could definitely throw the ball away and improve his footwork. After all, not all of his throws have been under pressure.

The Chargers offensive line is rife with problems. Whether the blame can be placed on their youth, lack of experience or a new voice at coaching, it's become clear that that area needs to be addressed before the Chargerslose the skills of one of the league's top quarterbacks. The lack of offensive protection continues to put Rivers in danger, kills the coaches playbook and totally disrupts the offensive scheme.  It also hinders the running game, and when you lack a throwing or a running game, well, you have yet another lost season even with 6 games left in this one. You also have a fanbase that is weary of the teams lackluster performance and incompetent leadership. A fanbase that is tired of excuses, high concessions and premium ticket prices for a team that's underperformed.  

Like the statement says "fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me" and it seems like Bolt fans are starting to agree. The Chargers will take on the Baltimore Ravens (8-2) this Sunday at Qualcomm stadium and the team announced that more then 10.000 tickets are available. Expect another TV blackout and expect more and more people not to care.

November 21, 2012

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arnie said... Nov 22, 2012, 1:55:00 AM

Good article Jeremy.

Do you recall when LT, couldn't break those big runs? And was labeled as a RB in decline? then fans all started to heap things on him like " injury prone", an "washed up"? it's interesting how the "fan" base has shifted that blame to PR. I bring this up because like then and now, neither of these players were, or are, the problem. Your article points to what i tried to, in vain, to proclaim what was the "real" issue back then.

PR is not the problem, he's suffering from the same crap that LT did. yes he's thrown the interceptions, i get that. he's also forcing a lot of passes he shouldn't. simply, he's under pressure, an trying to get rid of a ball to players that are not making plays. also PR does not "design" they plays. just like LT. Lt did not design the plays, nor did he tell his pro-bowl fullback to leave. ( LoNeal asked to be released, when norv stated, "..i don't need a fullback in my system..." the writing was on the wall.) and was not asked to take on a lesser roll to let Michael turner become the feature back, when he would've if the chargers had asked him. LT has always been on record, he was looking to be more involved in the passing game. he expressed his disappointment when norv didn't lean that way. imagine Lt doing what Sproles did while Turner up the middle, sproles returning punts, and as change up back?

but all that is mute at this point. sometimes we just have to trust our eyes and accept the "truth".

there is no one to blame. it's about accepting responsibility for this mess. and it should start at the top.

Dean. he did a great job of brining in the right people to turn things around. you now need to accept the responsibility of letting those same people, let to many of the wrong personnel go.

AJ. you've done a great job in brining in talent. unfortunately EVERY team has talent. that's why they're in the NFL. It's knowing WHICH talent to keep, that you need to work on.

Norv. you are good coach. you are just not a very good Head Coach. that is not my opinion. those are the facts. you are about to be fired from your third NFL team, because you have had similar results everywhere you been a Head Coach. regardless of what players you have, you are not getting the job done you were hired to do. Your fault. Deans fault. Aj's fault. nobody's fault. this is the gig.

P.S. Dean is the president. Alex Spanos is the owner. Dean can be fired.

Jeremy Meyer said... Nov 22, 2012, 3:53:00 AM

Ernie, thank you for your comment and I appreciate your very long and detailed post.

arnie said... Nov 22, 2012, 11:54:00 AM

Sorry about that. i'll try to keep it to a paragraph next time.

Nick in PB said... Nov 23, 2012, 6:10:00 PM

Arnie, you said it. As for the article, Jeremy, right on. The biggest problem on this team is the offensive line. Now, I don't think it would be with a healthy Gaither, but it's too late to look back on that one. We need a replacement for him too. Sad, because things could have picked up where we left off last season. But it didn't. But Norv is still a problem.

Jeremy Meyer said... Nov 23, 2012, 7:30:00 PM

Nick, thank you for your comment and what will happen now that Gaither has been placed on IR? Will his possible replacement Kevin Haslam be the missing link?

Pete Spinning said... Nov 24, 2012, 1:32:00 PM

The front office has been living in a fool's paradise for a while. It started with the hiring of Norv, after the firing of Marty. It continually got worse as their vision blurred, and they let a lot of quality talent walk out the door without adequately replacing it. They missed on some important draft picks, who have contributed little. They even missed by NOT drafting certain players who were available to them. It probably hit an all time low with the abrupt loss of key offensive linemen. And here we are.. Time to clean house. I think you can throw a rock, and hit somebody who has had a role in the regression of the team. The fans deserve better.. Not chill pill articles. Time that they all started acting like professionals, and fix this mess... The ones who are fortunate enough not to be shown the door, anyway. That is where the discussion should start and end.

BD said... Nov 24, 2012, 1:45:00 PM

The blame lay sorely on AJ and Norv. But the majority of the blame lay at AJ's feet. He is responsible for the talent, or lack there of. Having Clary starting on your offensive line? Nough Said!!! So much for Melvin "T-Rex" Ingram and Kendall Reyes. Sheesh....all that talk about how good these rookies are going to be. Also the arrogance of AJ! Thinking he could so easily replace players likes Sproles and Vincent Jackson. Sure AJ was successful early on but he let it get his head. I found all these great players. I can just easily replace them. I don't need to sign big name free agents.

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