No Excuses

Aug 8, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy (left) and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt (right) before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jody Gomez-USA TODAY Sports

Wow… what a season. Today was disappointing, no doubt. But,” it is what it is”, right? We went into Denver, and we thought we could beat them. I think we had a chance, but we fell short. I’m glad there was some January football. Denver played a balanced game, and Peyton kept the mistakes to a minimum. Denver’s running game was on point, and they really beat us at our own game… hard-nosed running. Quite honestly, the Broncos had the Chargers on their heels from the get-go. The Broncos got a ton of pressure on Rivers. Their offensive line was dominating our defensive front all day. The play calling was offbeat, and predictable. The Chargers finally decided to stop running Woodhead for two yards (without Mathews), and were staging a comeback. They scored twice after a quick strike, and executed an amazing onside kick recovery. But, instead of going for a second onside kick, they decided to go conservative, and gave the ball back to Denver, with three minutes left. They never saw the ball again (sound familiar?).

The Chargers streak of luck ended today. I have said many times before… “FITYMI”. Fake It Til You Make It. They did that down the final stretch, and gained valuable playoff experience for a young crew, that will be around for years to come. The Broncos are a stacked team. This rag-tag fleet of no-names, rookies, undrafted free agents, brand new starters, scrappy veterans, and first-year management have put a winning product on the field, despite major setbacks. There is a lot to learn, and there are a lot of moves that can be made. If they continue to make wise choices, they will succeed.

When Tom Telesco was hired, there was a period where we weren’t getting any real information about what was going with the new regime. I wrote an article called “Tom Telesco’s Experiment”. We had all of these new parts, and none of it really made sense. I compared it to a Frankenstein type roster. Sewn together by a mad scientist, who just performed major surgery on a team, and created an assembly of odd parts. Telesco, McCoy, Whisenhunt, Pagano, Reich, and Coach D’ Alessandris took that monstrosity, and made it win on the field. Despite the lack of talent, they rode it until the wheels fell off.

In the end… those wheels have names. I just started to type specific names, but I stopped. You know who they are. I hope they sleep really good tonight, and don’t trip too hard on the loss. It was a great Charger season. I feel blessed to have been a part of it. It only gets better from here.

Keep Bolting Toward Excellence

Peter Thompson

 

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  • Alex Pitrofsky

    3rd and 17……….

    • 619chargers4life

      Second stringers …….

      • Gunnar Martin

        Bront Bird drives me insane. Always has. When he came in for Manti, I knew something bad was going to happen because of it. Unfortunately (and when I say unfortunately, I mean EXTREMELY DOGGONE UNFORTUNATE), it came at the worst possible time: 3rd and 17. Aka, the one last play we had to make to give the offense a chance to go win the game for us. Should’ve been easy, but of course, it was wasn’t. That play is going to haunt me in an otherwise-good offseason. Ugh.

        • davacho

          and the subsequent 3&6 he floated out to the sideline looking lost…

    • Gunnar Martin

      We thought 4th and 29 was bad……….

      • RussinSactown

        Oh it was bad.

        • Gunnar Martin

          Haha yes, indeed it was. But IMO, this was worse. Playoffs have a whole different meaning.

  • 619chargers4life

    We will be back strong next season . Praying for no injuries next season and see where we get with new pieces on the chess board . Awesome year !

    • Gunnar Martin

      Man… Just imagine…. No injuries for a season…. now THAT would do us wonders!!! LOL

    • Sergio Quintero

      I would love to see this offense with Floyd back, and another year of development for Ladarius Green in which he starts with Gates.

  • Blue&gold_blood

    The play calling was horrible the first 3 qts … Why didn’t they just let Philip do what he does best !!!!!

    • I_Bleed_Powder_Blue_801

      Right??

    • Sergio Quintero

      There is major difference between a balanced gameplan (you know there is such a thing as a play action pass), and being stupid and slamming a 5’6 RB into the middle of the line of scrimmage.

      • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

        Agreed.

        It kills me….. When the run game was working early in the season, and the passing game was struggling, they kept beating a dead horse with the passing game. Then, they finally switched to the run game, and it was doing awesome. But, after the main component (Ryan Mathews) is out of the game, they refuse to turn to their Pro-Bowl QB, and stick with the run, when it is CLEARLY not working. Even the announcers were baffled (again). Then they throw to Gates, and V-Brown in key situations, instead of going to their play-makers. V-Brown & Gates haven’t been that great this year. They should get the LAST look from Philip. I think I saw another drop from Gates, and one from Brown, too. I just don’t understand where this stubbornness comes from, or why they refuse to get away from the game plan, when it isn’t working. The defense kept them in this game, and Whisenhunt did nothing, until it was far too late.

    • Richard Radcliffe

      @Bue&gold_blood: Philip did try to pass some in the first half and got shut down. He didn’t really have any success until Chis Harris left the game. Most people around here believe that he is one of the best if not best healthy players on the Denver D. Also keep in mind that it was quite gusty — not too conducive to a deep passing game and pretty risky for a first half. Peyton didn’t try too many long balls either except when he had to; e.g., 3rd and 16 or whatever it was.

  • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

    What am I going to do with all these bolo ties? SMH.

  • Gunnar Martin

    Perfectly said Peter. We had to work with a roster where many of the starters would be players 2nd stringers on most other teams, and made it to the divisional round. Purty dern good. I’m proud of our team, and will be able to enjoy the offseason knowing that we have a GREAT decade ahead of us (hopefully longer). If TT can somehow manage another draft akin to last year’s, then we’ll be in pretty good shape. BOLTUP!!!

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      Thanks Gunnar. Perhaps the biggest development will be Whisenhunt leaving. I am grateful for the system he installed here, as it worked wonders with PR. Having said that, I am a little relieved that he is going. There is an element of stubbornness to him, and an obvious refusal to get away from “his” game plan, when things aren’t working. I thought it took him far too long to acknowledge the talent on this team (for example: Mathews & Green), and he blindly went with players that weren’t producing (Brown & Gates) for too long. I would say that McCoy also had a big role in that, but I honestly believe he left it up to Whisenhunt to do his job, without interfering too much. I hope that our new OC next season (whomever that may be), we will be more aggressive with his play calling. I want an OC that doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger, and makes changes, when the game plan needs adjusting. Especially when the answers are staring him right in the face. Taking 5 games to implement changes is about 4 games too many.

  • Ignatius

    Going from 5-7 to a divisional playoff loss to Denver feels pretty good to me. Granted, I would’ve enjoyed beating the Donkeys at their backyard again but overall they had a just enough of a better team than ours but now we know where the measuring stick is. Coach McCoy and TT have a plan in their minds and now it’s time for phase 2. Can’t wait to start our pre-draft discussions and look forward to a very promising 2014. Bolt up everybody, it was a good season and there’s no shame in losing to Denver.

    • Blue&gold_blood

      I agree with you. Good run, it just kills me that the chargers could have won this game. It’s like they didn’t try the 1st 3 qts. It’s not the players fault though. It was the poor play calling. To be honest I don’t think it matter to Whiz. He has a head coach job Gurantee after the season. I mean , just look at what the chargers were able to do in the last qt. why couldn’t they call plays like that when they saw the run wasn’t going to work.

      • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

        I wrote an article after the Redskins game that Whisenhunt shouldn’t be our OC. He is too stubborn, and down-right conservative at the wrong times. Fortunately, he will be leaving for another HC position. I was scared that we might be stuck with this type of play calling for years to come. It’s sort of a relief that someone else will be taking him off of our hands. Here’s to a young, aggressive OC.

        • Richard Radcliffe

          @Peter Thompson: I’m really surprised to hear all this Whisenhunt trashing. I only payed a moderate amount of attention to SD this year, but what I thought I saw was a complete reliance on Rivers early in the season (when they were losing and like the last many years) followed by a completely new offensive philosophy which got them way further than anyone expected. With all the talk of the NFL being a “passing league”, you still need to have a solid running attack to be successful even with an excellent QB, especially in the post-season (do the letters LT mean anything?). Granted, he did seem a little conservative at times during the season, but SD had one of the top 3 or 4 offenses in the entire league. And please give at least a little credit to the Denver D. Rivers did try to pass a few times in the first half, but that went nowhere. It was only when Chris Harris, who could legitimately be considered a “shutdown” CB, went down that they started having some passing success.

          • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

            Make no mistake about it, we are grateful for what Whisenhunt has accomplished… way better than Norv, or most teams out there. But, slamming your 5′ 9″ 150 lb. running back into the asses of your struggling o-line for three straight quarters, with little deviation from that plan is not to be applauded. He has done this numerous times during the season, and this is not an isolated situation. At some point, you expect a coach of his experience to learn from his mistakes, and learn quickly. Despite the wonderful things he did during the season with this offense, he showed a clear stubbornness, and refused to deviate from his game plan whatsoever, until it was too late. In fact, I will go as far as to say that some of the “close wins” we had during the season should have been more lopsided. We are thankful for the improvement, and the system he has implemented. However, he seemed to have trouble making adjustments, that we could all see, in a timely manner. That’s where the criticism comes from. Denver’s defense definitely played well, but they aren’t a top ten defense, and there was little-to-no creativity, once they had shut down our run game. He wasn’t the only thing wrong, just a big chunk of it. I wish him well.

          • Richard Radcliffe

            Sometime maybe in the third Q, Woodhead was looking pretty wobbly. I don’t recall seeing him much after that.

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      Great comments Ignatious! Having a playoff win under our belts will make the draft & free agency THAT much sweeter. Even if we have a later pick, I am confident TT will find the most talented players out there.

  • Captain Kush

    The Chargers need to get another RB to back up Ryan Mathews. I like Ronnie Brown but he’s old and can’t carry the load anymore.

    • Sergio Quintero

      They have to draft an RB they can trust to be a starter, from the 3rd round they should be looking for a backup.

  • PBHayes

    The shame of it all is we could have won today with a couple of breaks. That third and 17 never should have been completed. Rivers gets the ball after a punt and I guarantee we tie the game.

    • Richard Radcliffe

      The Bolts could have won if they scored the most points. Please don’t start that nonsense.

  • Calman21

    I am really looking forward to Chargers games for the foreseeable future. The amount of up and coming talent is amazing. Pagano did fine (limited Broncos to 24 points), but with so many injuries there is only so much you can realistically expect. The offense…yea I am not sure why we regressed but it happens, remember we had multiple OL men playing hurt this game as well. The loss of Mathews probably hurt the most as we could not just run the ball at will. Another solid draft and cleaning out the remainder of the AJ/Norv closet should help a lot.

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      Isn’t it awesome that we are saying things like “The loss of Mathews probably hurt the most as we could not just run the ball at will”. Before the season started, nobody really had any faith in him, and most wanted him gone. My, how things change.

      • Calman21

        16.5 games…really an improvement over prior seasons. I was really pulling for him…even bought a Mathews jersey last off season. A little improvement to the interior line and he should be a monster next year. We also need to get a viable back-up RB…although I think unless something falls in our laps we are looking at a free agent or undrafted rookie (which could be fine looked at Addae).

    • Richard Radcliffe

      @Calman21: I really like Pagano. I even live in the town where he grew up. But methinks you’re giving him and the D in general a little too much credit for yesterday’s game. “Limited” to 24 points? Yes, this is an offense that generally puts up more than that, but Denver was playing the game that got them beat back on that dreadful Thursday night: ball control. 99% of the time, “limiting” a team, any team, to 24 points is not something of which to be proud. And keep in mind how many times Denver punted…

      • Calman21

        You should look at all three games 28, 20, and 24. The defense has generally done fairly well against them. Not saying they are all pro defense but they have done well against the Broncos.

        • Richard Radcliffe

          @calman21:disqus: Good point. But I guess what it comes down to is: Denver 2 — SD 1

          • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

            I think what he is saying is that we are a team of backups, rookies, newcomers, and players who were described as “not being fit to be on the practice squads of most teams”… but the defense held the Broncos to their 3 lowest scores of the season… despite being a far less than average defense, statistically. We did that to a handful of really good teams this year. I’ll hang my hat on that anyday.. win or lose. But, I know you understand, because you already conceded that this team is trending in the right direction, & will be tougher to beat as the years go by. So, it sounds like we all agree on that, mostly. Not there just yet, but definitely getting there.

  • 1961 Fan

    The Game: Pathetic at best. You can’t just play the fourth quarter and expect to win. If other teams want Whisenhut then I will pay his bus ticket out of town. Marty would say “if you don’t practice then you don’t play” the position coaches tried to hurry back some players that should never have been on the field. Hardwick should have been benched and Orhenburgermister (what’s his face) was a better replacement than Hardwick was.at center. McCoy should have stepped in and told Whisenhut to pump it up. Hell, even former great QB Phil Sims up in the broadcast booth said ” the Chargers should have played the first three quarters like they played the fourth”. Did the real team show up in Denver, the one that got lucky when the Ravens and Dolphins lost and the Chiefs kicker went wide and the Bolts did not not get called on stacking the right side of the line? Yesterday all the faults showed up especially the play calling which has been suspect from the very first game. The Bolts were unorganized when after playing the entire season and they still get delay of game penalties. The Chargers better have a good draft and Free Agent signing time because there are some players that are not starter quality – Number 50 Te’o for one.

    • 1961 Fan

      And one other thing: If you intercept the ball and get it on the twenty yard line with forty (40) seconds left in the half and then waste that precious time by taking a knee, then the coach that called that is a pussy. You waste the opportunity to score some points before going into the locker room; what did you have to take a whiz so bad that you WASTE the chance to score? I want coaches that have some balls. You SOB’s better do a better job of coaching next year!

      • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

        I totally agree. Whisenhunt has been suspect all season, and I am glad he is leaving. I just hope that McCoy doesn’t have a big hand in picking the next OC. He will just pick the most conservative one, because he (like Whisenhunt) plays it too safe. TT should make the decision, and let McCoy sit this one out.

  • Pels04

    Im sorry but Whisenhunt interviewing with 3 different teams Thursday Friday and Saturday absolutely had an effect on this game. Shut out for the entire first half? I dont think thats happened all season. The offense was stale. The defense held manning to 24 points. That’s 14 under their average so in my opinion they did their part. I put this solely on coach whiz. He wasnt in 100% so im glad hes leaving. All in all great season. This team has a very bright future and i cant wait to see how it unfolds!

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      You know, I defended Whisenhunt interviewing for other teams, and said it wouldn’t have an effect on the game. I was VERY wrong about that. You could tell that his game plan wasn’t well thought out, and he refused to do anything about it when it wasn’t working. I hope TT & McCoy learned from it, and never do that again. I was completely mistaken on that one.

      • Stefanie Smith

        Bless your heart, Pete. It was not good. i swear he unconsciously did some self-sabotage by not changing anything until the 4th quarter. He wanted it over with and whaddya know? It’s over.

        • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

          Yeah… I am not afraid to admit when I was wrong about something like this. In reality, though… Whisenhunt has been doing this all season. Just because we still won games, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t going on.

          I don’t think he sabotaged anything. This is who he REALLY is. A lot of old coaches get stuck in a “this has been working for me for years, and I’m sticking with it” mindset. Norv did this same thing, and that’s why this team has looked like a Norv run team, at times, during the season. They fail to keep up with the game, and learn new tactics. They start to think that their system is SO proven, that they can plug & play guys like Woodhead & Brown into Ryan Mathews’ spot, and it will still work. Then, they tell themselves that “the players didn’t execute properly”, rather than admit to themselves that their system is flawed. They are so stubborn about it, that they don’t realize that they didn’t put their players in a position to succeed. and failed to make adjustments. I hope we get a younger OC in here next. I am over these retread ex-head coach OC’s, who are too conservative to take any risks. Let’s get some new blood in here… preferably someone who is an up & coming innovator of the game. Someone that is too young to be considered for a head coaching position in the next few seasons, but is really good at calling offensive plays.

          • Stefanie Smith

            Another question is who is responsible for the guys not being better at controlling themselves and not getting all those offside/neutral zone (whatever it is called) penalties? They were talking about it on TV and said that is something you practice in OTAs and camp and regular practice. Guess one of the coaches or coordinators did not cover that for the defense…

            And yes, we need a coordinator that is more innovative and actually wants the job and is loyal to the Chargers. Whisenhunt did the Chargers a disservice yesterday. I hope the management on these other teams are raising a few eyebrows. He probably is lying and blaming the players.

          • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

            I’m sure that Pagano makes them practice this routinely. In fact, when Thomas Keiser (who has jumped offsides MULTIPLE times this season) did it. Pagano immediately pulled him, and put Ingram out there.. which is what I would have done. Problem is, Ingram did it a few plays later… and then double J did it, I think. That is on the players… especially the veterans.

  • doomedby2020

    What weekend of krappy football. Worn out teams playing in the rain, wind, and snow during the most important time of the season. Its no surprise the top seeds are playing each other (afc), must be nice to have a bye and home field advantage over everyone else.

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      Yeah. A bye week would have given us some time for the banged up o-line, and RM24′s ankle to heal. This is why you need to win your division, though… and then be the best in the league, and get those types of advantages. We aren’t that far off. I think we will be a pain in Denver’s ass next season. The schedules won’t be easy for either team.

      • Richard Radcliffe

        @Peter Thompson: Denver fan here. I agree that SD will be a pain in Denver’s arse (and the rest of the AFC for that matter) at least until Rivers retires. Mike McCoy and the rest of the coaching staff have done some amazing things. My sense was, and I think this panned out in yesterday’s game, that SD was relying too much on Mathews, not enough balance. Probably a coaching issue given you’ve got Rivers and Allen (what a phenom!). On the other hand, the Bolts’ passing game was pretty sad, at least in the first half in which there was not a single reception by a receiver (I think) and three sacks which were essentially coverage sacks.

        • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

          Great comments, Richard. You are far more intellectual than most of the Denver fans that have graced our site recently. Kudos. What’s funny, is that they took almost 5 games to even give Mathews a shot, even though he was beasting. They kept putting all of the weight on Rivers. Then, after Mathews’ amazing play could no longer be ignored, they grudgingly moved to a more balanced offense.. like the one you all saw in week 15. However, when Mathews went down this week, they tried to put our 3rd down back, and an aging Ronnie Brown into the same scheme, which was ludicrous. Neither of those two are built to do what Mathews does. They finally recognized it too late. They immediately had success, once they abandoned the run game in the 4th quarter. The problem is, is that they take forever to notice something is working, and when they finally implement what is working, they take forever to switch it out when it fails.

          As for the sacks, Denver was getting some really good pressure on Rivers all day. It may well have been due to great coverage, which is likely. However, our back up guard Johnnie Troutman started in place of our starter, Jeromey Clary. He got manhandled for the better part of the first half. Not to mention, our center had just come back from a concussion suffered the week before, and our right tackle hadn’t practiced all week, and was in a walking boot up until the game. That is 2/3 of our o-line. I wasn’t surprised that they were pushed around.

          Either way, congrats to you guys, and see you next year. Come back anytime = )

  • Stefanie Smith

    Whisenhunt will probably end up with the Titans. He thinks he has something to offer–the Chargers’ game plan and how McCoy thinks.

  • tubbs45
    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      Exactly.

  • PBHayes

    Richard I wasn’t trying to start any “nonsense” about how the Chargers with a few breaks could have won the game. All year they have basically been unable to stop a passing attack. Manning had no trouble completing passes as usual. At the beginning of the year I had the Chargers finishing 7-9 so they were a big surprise to me. Some of their losses should have been wins and vice versa. They need players on both sides of the ball and they now appears more likely than in recent years.

    • Richard Radcliffe

      @PBHayes: My bad. I just get annoyed when fans believe they really should have won a game but for a few bad breaks. I think most reasonable people agree with your assessment, myself included. I’m a Denver fan (duh) and I can tell you that in these parts, we understand that SD will be a force to reckon with in the coming years, especially after Peyton is gone in one or two years.

      • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

        Wow… I wish I could put a poster up of you, about how an opposing team’s fan should act on this site. Respect is everything. Thank you.