Nov 2, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon (50) sack San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) at Sun Life Stadium. Miami defeated the Chargers 37-0. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
Chargers fans are in mourning after the embarrassing beat-down the Bolts received in South Florida last Sunday. The tombstone reads “Here lies the 5-1 start, the #1 power ranking, Philip Rivers’ MVP talk and the Chargers run game.” Those days feel like an eternity ago. It is hard to believe it was 17 days ago that the Bolts were heading into a game with the Chiefs with a 5-1 record and a 5 game winning streak. The Chargers have now lost 3 straight, and the losses have looked worse each week. That is a disturbing trend. But before you break out the bugle and play “Taps” on the 2014 season, let’s see if we can catch our breath, snap out of the deep gloom and try and see the big picture: the Chargers are still in the hunt for a playoff spot heading into their bye week.
Obviously, plenty of things need to be fixed before the Chargers can think about making a run for January. Even though the defense surrendered 37 points on Sunday, my main concern is the offense not being able to stay on the field and….score some points. We cannot fault the defense entirely when by the time they run off the field, take off their helmets and grab a water bottle, they have to get back on the field. The main problem that needs fixing is the running game. Ryan Mathews should be back, which should boost the offense. That’s easy to say, since the run game can only improve. There is no where else to go, as the Chargers are tied for dead last with 3.1 yards per rush.
Realistically, the Chargers are most likely looking at the Wild Card race again. There is nothing wrong with that. I know football and baseball are different, but one thing we learned from the World Series is that you don’t necessarily have to win the division to win the championship, just get into the playoffs. The Bolts are only 1/2 game out of the 2nd wild card spot. The Chiefs are in the second spot with a 5-3 record. Obviously, at this point of the season, there are plenty of tie-breakers that have not played themselves out. The Bolts get one more shot at the Chiefs and also play Baltimore, who is in the same exact situation at 5-4, on the outside looking in.
The Bolts can dig themselves out of this hole, but it will take a running game and players healing up. The Chiefs still have to play Seattle, Denver, Arizona and Pittsburgh before they play the Chargers again. There could be some wiggle room for the Bolts after that gauntlet for KC. The Bolts have to tread through a mine field themselves, but they should be able to take care of business against the Raiders and Rams. It gets a lot tougher after that.
I truly believe the Chargers can still make the playoffs. If Ryan Mathews can get back to being his 2013 self, if the injury report starts to shrink, not grow, and if the Chiefs falter in the next month, the Chargers can gain ground, get back on track and make the postseason. This team is only 3 weeks removed from Super Bowl talk. This is a long season, there are 7 games left. The Chargers still do have time to fix things and turn it around. We have all followed the Chargers long enough to know that any given Sunday this can turn around quickly. Keep the faith, Bolt Nation.