As a fan, I want to say everything went wrong, but I believe that the focal points of the problem were coaching and winning the line of scrimmage.
We know that the offensive line has been a problem for the past couple of years, even though it is getting better, it’s not good enough. Mike Pouncey and Russell Okung anchor the offensive line, but they aren’t perfect and have been known to make their own mistakes from time to time.
The play of the offensive guards has been put into question as well when there are times that they look as if they don’t have the ability to anchor slide or pass blocks off or even identify the blitzers and allow a free man to hit Philip Rivers.
The right tackle position is also a position that is in need of a dire upgrade. There are times where Sam Tevi looks like a serviceable right tackle that has the potential to be more with a decent run blocking game and shows the ability to slide his feet and anchor at times, but then there are other plays where it looks like he can’t get out of his stance and forgets that his job is to block the defensive ends.
The only positions on the offensive line that are secure are the left tackle, Okung, and the center, Pouncey. The Chargers’ offensive line is more of a finesse group, but in order to win playoff games, the offensive line needs to have the power to be able to beat the will out of the opponents. I hope that the Chargers take a hard look at both guard positions and the right tackle to find a solution to their offensive woes.
To continue talking about the battle in the trenches, the defensive line wasn’t as dominant as it was last week against the Baltimore Ravens. With the defensive line having issues against the Patriots’ line, it allowed the seven defensive back personnel to be compromised as the guards were able to get to the second level and give Sony Michel wiggle room to torment the defense. With that being said, you win and lose the game in the trenches.
Before I start picking the game apart, I want to say Brandon Mebane played the game of his life. He fought through every play I saw, never gave up, and with the weight of the world on his shoulders, he still showed up for this Chargers team and I can’t thank him enough for what he has done for this organization, Prayers to the Mebane family.
Joey Bosa couldn’t affect the game in any way shape or form, it was the first time Bosa looked human, as Trent Brown dominated throughout the whole game. Melvin Ingram played to the best of his ability, but a 6-1, 250-pound defensive end on a 6-6, 335-pound monster of a right tackle played out just as you would expect it, and as the game wore down so did Ingram.
DariusPhilon, who I believe is the most underrated Chargers player, didn’t affect the game at all. It seemed as if the Patriots’ line demolished all of the Chargers the entire game.
The biggest problem, in my opinion, was that the coaching staff was too stubborn to change the gameplan when there were adjustments needed to be made, to have an opportunity to win the game.
The Chargers ran the seven defensive backs scheme against the Patriots’ 22 personnel and the Chargers were not able to contain the run. And when the coaches put the linebackers in, Kyle Emanuel would be the weak link on the defense either overpursuing and picking the wrong hole or getting completely decimated by Rob Gronkowski or James Develin. The smart move would be not letting Emanuel back in and keep to Hayes Pullard as Mike, but no, Emanuel was damn near always the man.
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The thing that upset Chargers fans the most was that Gus Bradley would not switch from soft zone defense a Cover 1 man-to-man defense. The defensive backs were doing what they were told, but Tom Brady was like a lumberjack chopping away at the tree, which was the Chargers defense.
Dump offs to the running backs and play action plays allowing the receiver to get behind the “linebackers” to get chunks of yardage. It’s a simple switch, man up and get away from zone.
Chargers defensive backs are far superior in talent to the Patriots’ receivers and Derwin James on Gronkowski is a matchup in our favor. Man on man means the running back is accounted for too, so why did it take until the Chargers are completely out of the game to switch the type of defense?
The poor performance by Bradley should put his job in question, especially when there are people like crazy Gregg Williams and Brent Venables on the market. Changes are needed for this team to make the Super Bowl next season and hopefully, the organization addresses the problem, so the Chargers can finally be crowned Super Bowl champions.