The Chargers looked to move back to .500 in Week 10 as they faced the Dolphins at home before heading into the Bye Week. Unfortunately, huge mistakes in key situations lead to the Miami Dolphins stealing this game away from the Chargers.
Let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of another heartbreaking Chargers’ loss.
Tyrell Williams– 5 REC, 126 YDS, TD
With Travis Benjamin out with a knee injury, Tyrell Williams stepped up in a big way, as he has done pretty much all season. You have to love Tyrell’s ability to find ways to get open and his desire to learn from his mistakes. After running the wrong route and getting chewed out by Philip Rivers and Mike McCoy, Williams made up for his error the very next play with a game/momentum changing 51 yard touchdown reception. You almost wonder if Tyrell would have come this far if this team still had Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson. None the less, look for Tyrell to get even better after the bye week, sans any injury setback.
Chargers Defense– No Denzel Perryman or Jatavis Brown? No problem. With those key injuries, this rag-tag defensive unit did their job in key moments in the game, especially Korey Toomer who lead the way with ten tackles and one assist. In addition, this band of misfits was able to hold the NFL’s leading rusher, Jay Ajayi, to 79 yards on 19 carries. Even if I didn’t agree with John Pagano’s play calling at key moments, you can’t blame the defense for this loss. The defense kept the Chargers in it until the end and with the upcoming bye week, this defense should get even better; getting Brown and Perryman back from injury,
Worth a mention– Trevor Williams, Melvin Ingram and Melvin Gordon.
In four games with nine penalties on one player, there comes a time where you have to rethink who is out there. It would be okay if Joe was good at his job. The truth is he’s not. In those four games he has been consistently beat at the point of attack, allowing Rivers to be sacked on multiple occasions. With the present bye week, the coaching staff needs to see that just because he is healthy, Barksdale is just not getting it done. Can they please try Chris Hairston or DJ Fluker at the right tackle position?
Offensive Line Pass Protection
In addition to Barksdale, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how bad this line was as whole. For the second week in a row, Rivers continued to find himself looking up at a blue San Diego sky. Three times last Sunday, Rivers was probably wondering if his line would ever protect him. This has been a consistent problem that can only be fixed by a short, quick passing game and running the ball far more consistently.
Philip Rivers– 23/44 326 YDs, 3 TDs, 4 INTs
After the game Rivers took all the blame for the team losing on Sunday as he should have. This team lives and dies by his success and struggles. Rivers struggled a lot on Sunday throwing four interceptions; three of which were in key points of the game. The first one of those three came off of a rare Dolphins turnover, giving the Bolts a 1st and goal at the five yard line. Rivers looked like he just wasn’t paying attention to zone defense as he threw into double coverage for an easy interception. Tough to come out of that situation with no touchdown – let alone no points at all.
The second came as the Chargers were driving down the field late in the game – trying to get in field goal range for a game winning score. Philip was baited into thinking Kiko Alonso was blitzing, As the ball was snapped, Kiko instead backs out into zone stepping in front of the first read. Tyrell Williams. and took it back for the Dolphins go ahead score. Finally, on the game sealing interception, #17 is again looking for Tyrell who wasn’t even open on the play. He forced it, instead of looking elsewhere or taking the sack and live to fight another down.With the upcoming bye week, its time for Rivers to rest up. Get Travis Benjamin back and hoping Williams gets 100% healthy he will try to get this team back into the thick of things if it’s not too late.
Situational Play Calling- Too many times this season have we seen this team get bogged down in the redzone. Why? Because we run the same predictable plays every time we get to the opponents twenty yard line or closer. Where was the screen passes? Where was the quick slants? We ran a screen to Melvin Gordon on a crucial third down and he was able to gain a ton of yards. Yet we only ran the screen again with a failed screen to Antonio Gates. Lets be realistic for a moment: Screens are for speedy and shifty players in the open field. Gates is none of those at the back-end of his career. Quick slants were one of the factors in the Chargers victory against the Tennessee Titans the previous week. Yet against Miami, the offense went away from the bread and butter.
Most of the season, the question most asked is “Why didn’t the charger run the ball (in key situations)? I’m aware Gordon was getting stuffed for most of the game, however Ayaji was also getting stopped but the Dolphins had no problem running it in twice in the red-zone. So if San Diego fired Frank Reich last year for these same issues, why does this continue to happen? The answer is Mike McCoy who seems to have some sort of say in these situations. If this is the case, Mike has to go this week. He is holding this team back from being good or great. I for one have seen enough of this McNorv experiment and its time to move on. I hope that during this time off, the “powers that be” make the right decision and let McCoy go. A change is desperately needed, although I highly doubt this organization has any guts to do it.
Worth a mention– Dwight Lowery
The shootout in Mission Valley became just another 4th quarter collapse under Mike McCoy, who has seen his team fail to close out three games in the second half in the four opportunities of 2016.
The Chargers would fall to the Saints by a score of 35-34 in a contest that they most certainly should have won.
Sunday was no different, as the Bolts carried a 13-point lead into the 4th with 6:50 to go. The Chargers would then proceed to fumble on two consecutive drives; the first by Melvin Gordon and the second by Travis Benjamin.
The real story here is coaching, which if you’re a diehard Bolts fan like I have been, you’ve watched this team your whole life.
Since the miracle season in 2013 which honestly Norv Turner himself could’ve done that, this team has fallen off the rails. McCoy is 13-20 in that span, losing too many games by one score or less than one fan can remember.
If last year didn’t set a precedent, the start to this season should. Simply put, McCoy is not getting it done at the head coaching position. It’s time to make a change before this season gets too far out of reach for these Bolts to even catch a wildcard birth.
Duds of the game:
Melvin Gordon – Yes, he had two touchdowns for fantasy owners. Hooray…. For Bolts fans, this was his worst game of the season. He was never able to get going running the ball. Though the Saints were selling out to stop the run, it is fair to say that good running backs still find a way. His biggest miscue, fumbling the ball with just under seven minutes to go in the game, is something that is just unforgivable. Just hold on to it and live to fight another down for God’s sake!
Travis Benjamin – A miserable day as a receiver: four receptions for 48 yards. His biggest blunder coming a drive right after the Melvin Gordon Fumble, as he caught the ball and carelessly fumbled it, allowing the Saints to get the ball for a go-ahead TD.
Mike “Choke” McCoy – This may seem redundant, but I will do it anyway. What halftime adjustments did you give this team? What was the message given to this team going into the 4th? Whatever it was, it didn’t work.
Mike this loss and the other two fall right at your feet. For two weeks in a row your team had a lead and two weeks in a row they have found new ways to lose it. Here’s hoping the Spanos family wakes up and gives you the ax you deserve, ensuring that I don’t have to put you as dud for the rest of the season.
Dishonorable mentions: injuries at linebacker continuing to mount, DJ Fluker and Spencer Pulley
Studs of the game:
Hunter Henry – After a costly fumble last week as the Bolts were attempting a comeback, Henry had another solid week, gaining 61 yards on four receptions, including his first touchdown as a pro.
Dontrelle Inman – After lackluster games to begin the 2016 season, Inman had the game of his life, totaling 120 yards and a TD on seven receptions. You knew going into this game that the Saints would have hard time with all of the Chargers’ offensive weapons. Have a day, though, Inman.
Craig Mager – Was it just one interception? Yes. It should’ve been a key one if not for the offensive fumbles. Mager did his job, showing up and making a play for this team when it mattered most.
Honorable mentions: Philip Rivers, Jason Verrett(way to come back, kid) and Tyrell Williams
The 2016 season has not gone as hoped in the eyes of Chargers fans all over the world. Despite a heightened amount of excitement surrounding a strong free-agency period and draft, the team has struggled to close out games, losing three games in which they should have most definitely won; the Bolts should be 4-0, to be honest, and I think you all know that.
With that in mind, do you think the Chargers can rebound from their 1-3 record and put themselves into a position to compete for a playoff spot?
Let me know by leaving your thoughts in the comments section below.
To quote the late Dennis Green:”…..and we let them off the hook!”
That’s the feeling of every Chargers fan after the team blew a 21-3 halftime lead to lose to the Chiefs in overtime. It was a gut-wrenching, morale-killing defeat.
The Bolts got out to a fast and promising start as they scored three touchdowns on three straight possessions. Melvin Gordon and the running game got going as he was responsible for the first two scores (both rushing TDs were Gordon’s only scores of his pro career).
Everything looked amazing early, as the bolts swarmed the Chiefs’ offense causing multiple three-and-outs, giving the ball back to the offense who kept scoring, as Philip Rivers would find Danny Woodhead in the endzone for a 21-3 lead.
The only negative in the first half, and it was a huge one, was Keenan Allen went down with a knee injury. Early tests have shown signs of an ACL tear for Allen, who looks to be all but lost for the season once again. Before he went down, he was shredding the reigning rookie of the year Marcus Peters for big catches. Losing Allen creates a huge hole for this offense moving forward.
The second half is where everything just came unglued. One of the huge knocks on last year’s squad was the inability to finish games. I hate to say it, Bolts fans, but it’s obviously carried over into this season. That stout running game seemed to be non-existent, as Gordon barely saw any carries in the second half. That stout pass rush on defense seemed to disappear into the KC sunshine as Alex Smith and company completely worked the Chargers’ defense in the second half and into OT.
The most disappointing thing about this loss is this coaching staff. McNorv, as I will call him from now on, ran this team scared. The play calls were, dare I say, absolutely pathetic and uninventive. Not once in this game did McNorv show any aggression in his second-half playcalling to show this team, “Yes we are all in! This isn’t last year’s team!”; instead on 4th-and-2 in a turning point in this game, McNorv chose a low percentage field goal. Then Lambo proceeds to push it wide right, giving the ball back to a hot KC offense and getting nothing off a fantastic Jason Verrett interception. Had Lambo have made the 54-yard field goal it would have tied his career-long.
Positive players of this game:
Melvin Gordon – It’s not his fault this coaching staff went away from him in the second half. It was great to see the explosiveness and downhill running that Gordon showed today. Keep that up and you may not be the wasted pick I thought you would be.
Brandon Mebane – What a difference this line looks like upfront when Mebane is in the ball game. He had a huge sack on Smith in the first half. Also, he was one of the reasons Corey Liuget looks like he’s gonna be a wrecking machine upfront. I can only imagine what this line looks like when Joey Bosa is healthy and ready to play. Expect bigger things from Mebane this season!
Jason Verrett – Verrett is gonna be a lockdown corner if he isn’t already. Chiefs wideout Jeremy Maclin only caught two balls in the first half and four the rest of the game. Verrett also stole the ball from him, making you think he was in Maclin’s head the rest of the way.
Bums of the game:
Mike McNorv – This is pretty obvious, I mean, I went into it earlier. Here’s the thing, though: with the Chargers Stadium vote on the November ballot, how many losses can the team suffer before it affects the ballot? This is a time where this organization can’t afford any more embarrassment. This loss wasn’t just bad, it’s unacceptable and embarrassing. How long can this go on? It can’t be much longer in a division that’s tough enough as is. Not to mention, with Sunday’s loss the Chargers haven’t won against a division opponent since 2014. If there was a time to make a change it’s now. Do it early in the season so this thing doesn’t go so far south that the ’16 season is lost.
Drew Kaser – So, we knew following in the footsteps of former punter Mike Scifres would be incredibly difficult. In the preseason, Kaser looked sharp, nailing punts and pinning opponents back. That’s only the preseason, though. Kaser had a horrendous day, averaging a measly 28.6 yards per punt. Most notably what sticks out is his 17-yard punt, which rolled into Charger territory, setting up the Chiefs with amazing field position for the game-tying drive. He’s a rookie; I get that; we all get that. He probably had some jitters understandably. The way he punted on Sunday was a vital reason why the Chargers ended up losing this one.
Manti Te’o and Denzel Perryman – Going into this season, I thought both players were a huge strength for this defense. Let’s start with Te’o. Early on, he showed amazing instincts and tackling, busting up some huge plays in the backfield. As the second half began, Te’o began to struggle, missing tackles, taking poor angles and he was exposed in coverage. Can they continue to keep Te’o in on passing situations? It’s highly doubtful. I would’ve loved to see Jatavis Brown or Josh Perry get some more work on passing downs. On to Perryman. This isn’t a game he would want write home about. He was down right sloppy, missing tackles and being completely out of position in pass coverage. It was all bad, overall, for these two inside linebackers. Live and learn, man up and come back strong next week!
Was this a make-or-break game for the Bolts? I hate to say it, but it was. If this team has any aspirations of winning the division and a deep playoff run, winning these games is the everything. The fact that you had a rival on the ropes and you couldn’t finish them off speaks volumes about this team. They aren’t as good as I thought they were. It starts with coaching and this staff did not show the killer instinct needed to win this game; they never have and, guess what, #BoltFam, McNorv never will!