How do the Chargers salvage the season?
Charger fans, this is what rock bottom looks like.
After losing to Green Bay, there was a lot of reason for optimism. The Chargers had taken the defending Super Bowl champions to their limit and the Packers barely escaped Quaalcomm with a win. A good place to begin the second half win streak would be the next week against the Raiders. The only problem was that game ended in a home loss as well. The home team was outdone by a Raiders squad without Darren McFadden, a quarterback who had been in camp less than two weeks and a rookie that all of a sudden looked like a pro bowler in Denarius Moore. Next game out the Chargers lost to the Bears, led by arch-enemy Jay Cutler. Finally, today’s loss to the Broncos shows how far and fast a team that was the odds-on favorite to win the division can fall. The Chargers went from starting the season 4-1 to 4-7 after a loss to a team led by Tim Tebow. Tim freaking Tebow.
Charger fans, this is what rock bottom looks like. Bottom of the barrel. Seventh layer of granite rock. Earth’s molten core. Hell. If Vince Lombardi was still with us he would be screaming WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON AROUND HERE!! until he lost his voice. I’m having flashbacks of all those 4-12 seasons we sat through in the eighties, before and after Air Coryell and before the arrival of Ladainian Tomlinson. The Chargers have lost six straight games for the first time in a decade and are starting to bear a striking resemblance to the Indianapolis Colts, only the Colts are actually scoring points these days.
What is going on with our team? There should still be hope that the Chargers could pull out of this tailspin but with this loss to the Broncos the Chargers fell three games behind the Raiders. Losing ANYTHING to the Raiders should be unacceptable. Speaking of unacceptable, Philip Rivers just lost a quarterback duel to Tim Tebow. Some things just defy explanation. Every member of the team should be personally offended. No team in the west has the talent the Chargers have and yet they sit in last place with five games to go. Philip Rivers has looked terrible at times but not all the blame can be laid at his feet. None of the skill position players on the offensive side of the ball can stay healthy for an extensive amount of time and now offensive linemen are getting hurt! The defense was usually good enough to get stops when needed to close out games but not now. Five of the Chargers losses have been by 7 points or less. There have been way too many turnovers on offense and the defense is not getting turnovers. The Chargers are -10 in turnover ration. The Chargers needed to win this game and run the table to catch the Raiders and get a playoff berth and now that chance is gone.
Norv Turner is coaching like he doesn’t want to be here anymore. There have been some very bad displays of play-calling and clock management during this losing streak. The run left on third-and-six that lost yardage cost San Diego the win. With all the targets at the disposal of Philip Rivers including the backs coming out of the backfield the best call was Tolbert over left tackle? Really? The Chargers did give up golden opportunities like the botched fumble recovery but I place this loss on Norv. The play calling left Tebow with time to score a touchdown just before the half.
Amidst all the bad there are a few positive conclusions that can be drawn from this debacle of a season:
1. Charger ownership will finally have the smoking gun they need to justify getting rid of AJ Smith and Norv Turner.
2. A major housecleaning will be done in the offseason on offense and defense and the new management will do what needs to be done to get the Chargers back to an elite team.
3. Thanks to the new regime Vincent Jackson will finally get the mega-bucks multi-year deal he deserves.
The key to gaining any momentum heading into the offseason is to fire Norv NOW. Don’t wait until the end of the season. Promote an assistant to interim coach and give Philip full control of the offense. Bring back the sandlot football approach for the last five games and give the team a way to enjoy themselves on the field. The most obvious thing about this year’s team is no one is having fun on the field and Norv’s perpetual scowl darkens the mood of the entire team. The players may not be saying it aloud but they can’t be happy about the way the team is being directed. Jacksonville is the next opponent on Monday Night Football. The Jaguars just fired their coach Jack Del Rio and are among the other cellar dwellars in the league. We all hope for a Charger win but a loss on national television to the lowly Jaguars might be the final straw to fire Norv during the season. If that is the result, a loss is as good as a win.
As for this Charger fan, like every year since I was a kid watching all those 3-13, 4-12 seasons, The Greg One is going down with the ship. These are my Chargers. For better of for worse. I may rant on what is going wrong but I will never turn my back on my team. I will be in front of the television every sunday (or monday) cheering my team on. Hopefully, others will join me.