Forty percent of the NFL season is over and the Chargers sit at 3-3 after collapsing in two consecutive games. The Chargers should be 5-1. If Melvin Ingram keeps his head up instead of spearing Drew Brees with the crown of his helmet the pick six that resulted would have salted away a Chargers win in New Orleans. If the Chargers could protect a 24-point halftime lead they would have a two game lead over Denver and the playoffs would be a foregone conclusion. I know, if Ifs and Buts were candies and nuts we’d all have a merry Christmas, right? Still, it goes to show the Chargers fatal flaw. The Chargers lack killer instinct. Ingram’s hit was not killer instinct. That hit was the knucklehead move of a rookie trying to make Sportscenter. He’s been taught to know better. Right now, the Chargers lack the ability to close the show and go home with the W. Even Peyton Manning shouldn’t be able to throw down five second half touchdown drives against a team that dominated his squad in the first half to the tune of zero points.
There is no doubt every man goes out onto the field expecting a win. Every player in the league walks out on the field expecting a win. The Chargers are missing the swagger that elite teams step on the field with every week. That swagger comes from KNOWING how good you are. The swagger comes from KNOWING the team on the other side of the field has no chance at beating you. That swagger is an acknowledgment of how great you know your own team is. The NFC is full of swagger. The Giants, Packers, Saints, Eagles, Lions, Redskins (just to name a few) all have that swagger. You don’t have to be 6-0 to have swagger. Most of those teams are barely at or over .500 but what they all have in common is the confidence in themselves that they can beat ANYBODY. You can see it when you watch their games in the way they hustle. You see it when they line up to run a play. You see it in the way they move with a purpose to the new spot of the ball. The Chargers don’t have that swagger yet. The defense looked great in three of the first four games, wins against the toothless Titans, Chiefs and Raiders. Against the three better teams on the ledger, (Falcons, Broncos and Saints) the Chargers withered and went on to embarrassing defeat. Now with a bye week behind them, the Cleveland Browns are next up. Cleveland is 1-6, 27th in the league in total offense AND total defense.
Are the Browns just what the doctor ordered for a slumping Chargers team? Yes and No.
The Chargers need to make sure their house is in order. Right now, the Chargers are only 25th in the league in total offense, miles behind even the Raiders (19th) and Chiefs (8th) in total offense. When the most talented team in the AFC West is last in the division in total offense something is very wrong. On the bright side, the Chargers rank 13th in total defense. Only Denver (10th) ranks higher in the division. The defense would certainly be ranked higher is they didn’t start bleeding points in the last two games. The Browns feature a 29-year old rookie quarterback, Brandon Weeden. Their best offensive player, rookie Trent Richardson, may not play at all due to injury. What good can come from a win over another toothless team?
The Chargers need to prove to themselves and the rest of the league they are still legitimate playoff contenders by putting a three touchdown curb stomping on the Browns. In Cleveland. In the elements. The Chargers need to show their defense is better than 13th, they should be top 10. The offense needs to show how great is is by scoring frequently, dominating the line of scrimmage, showcasing their superior running game and colossal advantage at the quarterback position. The defense need to keep the Browns off the field in five plays or less. Force turnovers and keep Weeden on his back. Do those things and swagger will come, even against a woebegone team like the Browns. You definitely need swagger as you head into the second half of the season. Especially THIS Jeckyl and Hyde team. A dominating win will be the beginning of another great winter run for the Chargers. A close win or a loss (my finger will barely let me write the word) will be the end. Game over. Lose to the Browns and you may as well suit up the cheerleaders because no one will know the difference.
This game means EVERYTHING.
The Browns, even at home, do not belong on the same field as the Chargers. The Browns do not have an advantage at any position, offensively or defensively. The Chargers know it as much as we do. Let the Browns hang with you and that’s the truest barometer of where you are as a team. Bad. Period. After these last two games the Chargers have something to prove to themselves more than anyone else. They should be playing angry. They should be playing with purpose. Wind, rain, snow be damned. Time to put up or shut up. Simply put…
Come hang with me, BoogaP and other Boltbeat staff at the Thursday night showdown at the Q against the Chiefs! Time to fill the Q with noise! We’ll be tweeting, recording and oh yes, if The Greg One is there, better believe there will be partying! Bring your lightning bolts!!!