San Diego Chargers | Looking Backward… And Forward


Say what you will about the San Diego Chargers, but they have been fun to watch. The games have all been competitive and if we can somehow avoid any more trips to triage, we have a legitimate shot at the playoffs and beyond.

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If, before the start of the season, the Bolts could have been promised a 5-3 record at this point in the season, most fans probably would have gladly accepted. But somehow, on the heels of a 2 game losing streak, 5-3 seems barely passable. That, by itself, is a strong statement about the current quality and expectation of this team. Fans (and the team itself) are no longer accepting of mediocre results.

After a disappointing loss in Arizona, our Chargers reeled off 5 straight and had the attention of the entire NFL. Two weeks later and the rest of the country has relegated that team in sunny San Diego to the status of also-rans.

A closer look reveals something else. Analyzing the Bronco loss shows that the Chargers were up against 3 tough opponents.

First, the Broncos are arguably the best team in the NFL. They are a quality team in all facets of the game. Not too many would argue that they have the best offense in football and it is not a stretch to say that they rank among the best ever. So beating them IN DENVER is a daunting task all by itself.

Second, although all teams must suffer through injuries, the Chargers have been decimated at running back, at corner, and at rush linebacker. We are past third stringers in all of those positions and yet remain competitive. We held the vaunted Denver offense to 7 points for most of the first half and it is no coincidence that upon the loss of Jason Verrett (a stud cover corner) our defense lost its foothold. Not to disparage Richard Marshall, I’m sure he is a nice man, but a blow up doll entirely dependent on the whim of wind direction could cover a wide receiver better. The Broncos exploded in the second half and Verrett’s loss (and the absence of Brandon Flowers) is too much to replace against such an offensive juggernaut. That San Diego released Marshall later the same week supports my mildly exaggerated claim.

Third, I hate it when people blame officiating. Overcoming bad officiating is also part of the gig, and to point fingers at the refs always smacks of desperation and just plain looks bad. So what am I about to do? Just that—blame the officials. Some teams (Denver and Seattle among others) seem intent on mugging wide receivers and daring the refs to throw flags on every play. Re-watch that game and you will see contact on just about every route and Aqib Talib, a terrific corner, manhandles his receivers throughout every route. And he gets away with it in part because of reputation and in part because officials are struggling with consistency enforcing the new rules. On Eric Weddle’s end zone interception, the call (if you call it based on the rule book) that negated the pick was borderline at best, but when compared to the flag picked up on the mugging of Antonio Gates’ in the end zone, was embarrassingly wrong. Keenan Allen was spun around by a defender and no flag was thrown. Call it both ways and be consistent, that’s all I ask. The fumbled kickoff was as close a play as I’ve even seen on instant replay. I would not have disputed the call if it was originally called “no fumble” and I saw no evidence in the replay that would reverse it. But the same thing goes the other way. IT WAS CALLED A FUMBLE and I could see no definitive proof to reverse it. Do I sound like a homer? Well, Mike Carey, the TV commentator, ex-official, and ref “expert in the booth” opted for the Chargers in EVERY one of the calls I just mentioned. Just be consistent, that’s all I ask.

In spite of it all, the Chargers remained competitive to the end. The Bronco game, in spite of the result and score, showed our team’s resolve.

We are going to need that resolve in the coming weeks and if there is such a thing as a MUST WIN game at this stage of the season, then the Dolphin game is one because of what we face down the stretch. We play Oakland, St. Louis, Baltimore, New England, Denver, San Francisco, and Kansas City after Miami. To make the playoffs you have to be thinking 10-6. That’s a second half record of 5-3. If we beat Miami then 4 of 7 isn’t completely crazy; still difficult, but not crazy. If we lose in Miami then that’s 5 of 7. There are not 5 guaranteed wins in those 7 games. Every game is winnable in its own right, but to think that making the playoffs after a loss in Miami is a “piece of cake” then I’m not sure you and I agree on the definition of cake…