Nov 24, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) is assisted off the field after an injury timeout during the first half of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Let me start off by stating the obvious, Chargers Win! With the last drive that ended with Seyi Ajirotutu game winning touchdown catch, 41-38, the Chargers had plenty of reasons, at 4-6, to lay down for the 9-1 Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium.One being they were a game out of the playoff race with a tough schedule left to play, the other? Injuries. Now everybody gets injuries, it’s not “if” but “when” they occur. The Chargers were not immune, but looking back before OTA’s, there was a plan from day one.
Before the Chargers ever played one regular season game , they had a total of 10 starters go down with injuries. That means they started their season with backs-ups, practice squad and free agents players off the street. Unfortunately the injuries to starters haven’t stopped. However, the plan, looking back was pure genius from Mike McCoy. In his first training camp all the players received “equal” amount of snaps. You would think that would be common place, but it isn’t. Most training camps play their starters while free agents, rookies, or camp bodies wait for opportunities to get some reps. After the first 2 weeks it is true coaches know who going to make the 53, still Head Coach Mike McCoy maintained a competition atmosphere, no matter what your experience, contract status, or legendary place in the community. The message was clear, ” you need to earn your spot on this team”.
Which brings me to the game this past Sunday. It is suggested the Chargers got “lucky” because, the Chiefs lost two of the defenses best pass rushers. That is a nice way to console the loss, Chargers fans know this technique all to well, closer to the truth, I told you so. The facts are, Hali an Houston accounted for 20 of the teams 32 sacks. Those numbers were compiled over the first 8 games of the season, however Hali has 0 sacks in the last 2 games and Houston only 1. On top of that the Chargers O-line is ranked 4th in the league for fewest sacks. Now let’s put all these FACTS in “context” and bring this thing home.
The issue is two players account for the majority of the teams sacks, that tells me KC is totally dependent on these guys staying healthy for there pass rush to be effective. The other, without them there really isn’t anybody that KC has to step up and fill that void. The Chargers have 29 and managed to get sacks with starters, backups, and practice squad players. Playing better teams, or just long enough, someone will figure out how to nullify that nifty pass rush, Keenan Allen, Eddie Royal, Ladarius Green, Danny Woodhead, beat the press coverage ALL DAY, which lead to the ball getting out quicker, and putting the defense on its heels. Most importantly the Chargers had the ROOKIE right tackle, playing left tackle. The starting right guard playing right tackle, and two backups playing guards. And all the KC defense could manage was, even while Hali and Houston were in the game, was ONE SACK…..ONE.
The Chargers won the game because they employ a philosophy of using 53 players over 17 weeks to win games, not 2.