Can the Chargers turn their season around? To answer that, let’s take a look at what went wrong Sunday and see if these are things that can be eliminated or are areas where improvement might actually happen.
The Chargers’ defense played well and the offense moved the ball at times Sunday. And through most of the game, you kind of felt like they might just pull this one out. But the Chargers did enough to lose the game. I’m not even sure they were outplayed by the Chiefs; certainly outcoached, but not necessarily outplayed.
The touchdown should have looked familiar to us, because it is the same play that Miami ran last week for their touchdown. The same freaking play!
The game started off with a penalty. A block in the back on the opening kickoff. You might want to just dismiss this as an oopsie, but the Chargers would go on to commit several penalties on the day which fall into the ‘dumb penalty’ category. Several false starts, another penalty on a kickoff and of course a roughing the kicker penalty.
The good news is penalties can be eliminated, especially the dumb ones. The worrisome part is how are we committing dumb penalties three weeks into the season. I don’t really want to draw an opinion of Anthony Lynn only three games into his head coaching career, but dumb penalties are the sign of an undisciplined team.
A few plays after the kickoff, we have Phil’s first interception. So much goes wrong on this play. One, Rivers throws a bad ball, which is a bad sign. This means Rivers is pressing, trying to do it all. And I understand it. Rivers wants to win and he knows it was a must-win game if the Chargers had any hope of seeing the postseason. The problem is that Rivers is at his worst when he is pressing, but the team has put him here. They have put him in a spot where he can’t trust any of his teammates. They certainly showed him that they could not run the ball in the first two weeks or make field goals. So, we hope Rivers can make the adjustment and trust his team more. Not too much of a reach.
There were two other problems on that play. One, Travis Benjamin needs to come back for that ball. He can see it is underthrown, but he tries to low point it. I don’t want to read a lot into it, but sometimes there seems to be a lack of focus on every play. Every play is important as they can be game-changers, and the Chargers need to play that way. This perhaps goes back to the coaching staff and the message they are sending to the players.
The second problem on that play was that the Chiefs flushed Rivers from the pocket with three rushers. While the offensive line did play better, they are a long way from being a good NFL line. Can these guys improve through the season as they get more reps? Sure, most of them are getting their first serious NFL reps, so it’s logical to think they will get better. I just don’t think they will get to good or great. There is just a lack of talent on the line which needs to be addressed in the next draft.
After the interception, the Chiefs scored a touchdown. For me, this was the most disturbing part of the game. The touchdown should have looked familiar to us, because it is the same play that Miami ran last week for their touchdown. The same freaking play! Did the Chargers not go over that play this week. Did they not go over how to handle trips left? Again, we see Jatavis Brown trailing a WR into the end zone for a score and Tre Boston is no where near to provide help.
I have too huge concerns here. One is Gus Bradley. Is he a defensive guru or a chump? The defense played well after the first quarter, so perhaps a guru; but the major gaffs that get repeated every week with no solutions in sight make me feel like he is a chump.
The second concern is the linebackers. Brown was targeted seven times on Sunday and gave up seven receptions. It appears that all of the linebackers are horrible in coverage. This does not seem to be going away. If Bradley is a guru, he needs to find a way to not let the linebackers get exposed each week. Are the problems on defense solvable? Maybe. But do we have the coach who can do it? I’m not sure.
The special teams play on Sunday was horrible. They gave up a 40-yard return. They have penalties on two kickoffs and rough the kicker. That is a disastrous day. Then to top it off, Drew Kaser boots two punts into the end zone when they were in position to pin KC deep. We were all worried when they hired George Stewart, and it looks like we had a good reason to be worried. The Chargers need a good special teams coach. I’m not sure there are any available midseason.
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Many were excited to see Ken Whisenhunt return to offense coordinator. After a rough start of the season, many of us are remembering why we were glad to see him go last time. Every game we have some real head-scratching going on. On Sunday, I was wondering why they abandoned the run game in the third quarter. It was the one thing that was working and the Bolts were only down one score. It was definitely no time to panic. On top of that, Rivers was having a bad day. The first two games when the run game was struggling the Chargers stuck with it way too long, and on a day when it was working they abandoned it. I’m so confused. Whisenhunt seems to lack the ability to make good in-game adjustments.
The last thing that this team seems to lack is a killer mentality. On Sunday, they just could not finish drives. They were inside the five twice and could not score a touchdown. They pushed the ball into KC territory all day but consistently stalled out. When they got one in field-goal range, Lynn opted to punt. It seems when things matter most this team just cant get it done. We thought Lynn was going to come in and change the culture. He was going to make the Chargers a Bad Ass Football Team. What I see right now is an undisciplined team that is already giving up.
Do you think the Chargers can pull it together and start winning games?