Dec 22, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) celebrates with tight end Antonio Gates (85) after a seven-yard touchdown run during the first half against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Heading into the back half of the season with a 5-4 record would usually not be cause for alarm. This year, it is very much a cause for concern. The Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs are both ahead of the San Diego Chargers in the division, and have both beaten the Chargers this season. With so many teams still in the hunt in a crowded AFC, it is very possible that 10-6 might not get the job done, either. The Chargers went on a three game losing streak, and dropped some crucial games, in the ugliest of fashion.
If 10-6 doesn’t get the job done, that means that the Chargers can only afford to lose one game. Even if 10-6 DOES get the job done, they can only absorb two losses, and cross their fingers that some of the other teams in the conference falter down the stretch. Looking ahead at their upcoming schedule, there is much to be concerned about. They play two of the best teams in the league, when they face both Denver & New England. They end off the season in one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL, playing a must win road game in Kansas City. In between all of this, they face a tough 49’ers team on the road, and a Ravens team that is also in the heat of the playoff race.
The only two games they play against struggling teams are against the Rams, and hosting the Raiders today. The Chargers simply can’t come off of the bye week like they normally do, and have a flat game. Every game is crucial, but it starts with the dismantling of the Oakland Raiders. Even if they squeaked out a win today, which is often the case when they play Oakland, it is imperative for them to notch a win today. If they don’t, they are probably going to have to win out to get into the playoffs. 9-7 almost certainly won’t get the job done this season, unless the wheels fall off of every team in the race. Even then, I’m not sure if it is mathematically possible… it might be… but, let’s not try to find out, Okay guys? Let’s just beat the Raiders today, instead.
The team gets some players back from injury, who will be a much needed boost, but may still be rusty. Most notably, Ryan Mathews will come back to try and get the worst running game in the league back on track. I can’t even believe I just typed that. That is not what I thought we would be saying when the season began.. but, it happened. Ryan Mathews needs to carry this team on his back, like last year, and breathe life into this struggling team. He needs to keep the other team’s offense on the sideline, and our defense on the sideline. The offensive line MUST find a way to create the holes Mathews needs to succeed. Because, when that happens… Brandon Oliver is going to destroy this defense, once Mathews wears them down.
Perhaps the most important thing that the Chargers need to do, is get back to what worked last season. The return of Malcom Floyd was a huge step forward for this offense. However, whether it’s Reich, or McCoy, or both… they have suddenly gone back to Norv Turner’s deep passing game, and seemingly abandoned the short passing game that made this o-line & Philip Rivers look unstoppable last season. Go deep, by all means. It has worked many times this season. But, don’t go deep on every other play, to the point where it stops surprising the defense, and sucks the momentum out of the game. No more runs up the middle on first down on EVERY SINGLE SERIES! While you are at it… how about you get Ladarius Green, and Keenan Allen more involved. No more 3 & outs. Most importantly… no more KILLER PENALTIES! Time to stop acting like amateurs, and performing like contenders.
The defense will be getting Jerry Attaochu & Melvin Ingram back. There was no pressure whatsoever in the blowout loss in Miami, so that is excellent news. I haven’t checked the injury report yet, but it looks like Addae will be out there today, as well. Flowers should be rested up, and Shareece Wright will play opposite. They need to get the job done today on defense. Liuget has to play like the pro we know he can be. Te’O is back to help the middle. Donald Butler needs to get his act together today, as he has pretty much been shamed across the media over the last 6 weeks… more importantly… by his fans. I am going to wear his jersey today, just as a boost of confidence. The defense needs turnovers today… sacks… hurries.. they need everything, including a great game plan from Pagano.
If you haven’t joined us for an open thread before, please feel free to root for the Chargers in the comments section below. We will discuss everything football, and watch the Chargers secure win number 6. Just be respectful, and keep it above the belt.. unless a Raider troll comes in here… then, you can help us usher them back to the black hole they came from!BOLT UP!!!!!