San Diego Chagers
There comes a time when repeated tragedies occur, that you throw up your hands and bellow out a sarcastic laugh or bow your head and give it a good hearty shake.
Week 3 is now in the books and so is the third Charger player to be out for the season due to an injury in as many weeks.
Misery certainly does love company.
After an MRI on Monday, it was officially announced that Manti Te’o is out for the season with a torn Achilles.
The “Next Man Up” mantra that has been utilized by the Chargers for the past few seasons might need to be changed to “Next Man Down.”
Despite the loss of the defensive captain, the Chargers (1-2) also lost another game where they had a chance to win in the end.
Circling around social media last night and Monday morning, there are many that have blamed Philip Rivers, Hunter Henry, Mike McCoy, Melvin Gordon or Josh Lambo for Sunday’s 26-22 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on the road.
Sorry, but I am not going to dignify a response for blaming a kicker whose job is to kick field goals and extra points – not to prevent a rusher from getting a chance to block a kick.
From the early onset of the game, the vibe and tone set by the team was extremely sluggish. The fire and passion that resonated through the first half of Week 1 against Kansas City and the entire Week 2 victory against Jacksonville seemed a distant memory.
Rivers was not the elite quarterback that fans have grown accustomed to watching, missing many targets with passes that were too high, too hard or simply off the mark. The fierce competitor that he is, after the game he admitted to the poor performance and execution of his game – even singling out his biggest mistake of the game. “Of all the plays I missed today, I wished I got the one to Travis (Benjamin) on 3rd-and-2 because we were running that thing down. We may end up with it in our hands at mid-field, and I just missed it…”
Indeed, it was one pass that if completed, the rest of his errant throws would have been forgotten. It was a crucial play that could have possibly secured the game, forcing Indianapolis to use their timeouts and dwindle the game clock down.
Chalk it up to a bad game for the offensive and team leader.
One player in particular took the loss solely on himself:
Gotta take this one on the Chin!!! I Loss the Game …..
— Jason Verrett (@Jfeeva_2) September 26, 2016
No, Jason, you alone did not lose this game. And might I add that your humility is a breath of fresh air and one of the reasons why you are a fan favorite.
It might be true that Jason Verrett was beat often against a very good wide receiver in T.Y. Hilton on Sunday. Equally important to note is that in no way shape or form is the loss all on his shoulders. Game after game the Pro Bowl cornerback has shut down the opposition’s best wideout. It was just a bad day for the talented corner – occurring on a day where others experienced lousy games, as well.
Moreover, it was not Feeva’s fault for being on the sidelines during a potential game-clinching 4th-and-7 play with less than two minutes left in the game. Brandon Flowers was covering Hilton and instead of playing him up close, Flowers gave T.Y. a four-yard cushion where he made the easy, wide-open catch at the first down marker, falling forward to ensure the call was a simple one. Flowers has been playing exceptionally better this year than last, and was one of three players that I mentioned on this site to have a great impact this season. It is unfortunate that this crucial play has his named associated with it.
Melvin Gordon was held in check by Indianapolis, who came into the game ranked as the worst rushing defense in the NFL. Clearly, the Colts knew about this dubious honor of theirs and studied a lot of film on the second-year starter. It was clear to them that “Flash” loves to run in between the tackles and does not improvise as much as an elite back would. Perhaps it is his style, or perhaps it’s his youth that explains why he runs the way the play is designed to, without recognizing other outlets.
Gordon did, however, hit pay dirt again for the fourth time in three games and continues to punish those would-be tacklers. The Chargers fans are very excited about his play thus far. His ability to get into the endzone, his potential, especially if he learns from his mistakes, and how high his ceiling is reinforce the fact that the excitement is justified.
The second-round draft pick of 2016, tight end Hunter Henry, received the starting nod to take the place of the future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates. Hunter had five catches for 76 yards and looked like he could be the heir apparent of Gates as he levied space between him and the defender, moving the chains on several occasions. Although, it is hard to remember those precise routes and great hands due to his late game fumble that ended any last-ditch efforts for a comeback.
Yes, the Bolts still had a chance to win the game. Yes, the fumble ended that hope. However, it should not have come down to that one play, nor is it the dubious “play that lost the game.” Hunter is a talented rookie and as you could see his reaction on the sidelines he was devastated.
As upsetting as it was to watch the game slip away, my heart went out to him and I wondered what encouragement he would receive. Then I saw Gates call him over and give him a veteran pep talk.
By now, most fans who watched the game or have seen the highlights know about all the following miscues: dropped punt, missed catches, missed throws, fumbles…etc. Let us not take too much time dwelling on those players, because it was not one single player nor single mistake that helped in the loss on Sunday. It was the collective faux pas of many.
McCoy expounded on my thoughts when he stated after the game, “There are a number of plays you look at; missed opportunities through the entire game. It’s not just one drive or one series. There were a number of opportunities we had, where we didn’t make the plays today.”
To further McCoy’s point, it was not just those mistakes, which during a loss are enhanced and nit-picked, but it was also the penalties. Those yellow flags are thrown often during NFL games, legitimately or otherwise, and this game would see 20 of them – 10 for each team. It has been instilled in many young athletes that a physical mistake is easier to forgive than a mental mistake. Having your named called out by the men in pinstripes is a mental mistake, showing a lack of discipline more often than not. That being said, at least two of those “phantom calls” would cost the Chargers points in the end.
Several times those penalties either killed a drive or allowed the Colts to continue theirs. Whether the call is obtuse or astute, it is difficult to gather momentum when the game stops for a penalty.
When all’s said and done, with massive blunders and penalties, San Diego still had a chance to win the game. Even with the defense unable to stop the aging wonder who is Frank Gore, collectively they were able to sack Andrew Luck twice, forced two fumbles (recovering one), scored a touchdown and had an interception. Thus far after three games, the defense has logged six total turnovers — four interceptions and two fumbles.
In 2015, the Chargers secured only 11 interceptions and nine fumbles for the entire season. Furthermore, Rivers has yet to throw an interception, which has contributed to San Diego being at plus-2 in the turnover department, ranking 5th in the AFC.
It was, without a doubt – a sloppy game but one that San Diego should have and could have won. As stated previously, with the poor play at key moments by positional players, and the horrid and massive amount of penalties, the game was still within reach in the waning moments. However, in order to take this team to the next level, a game like this is one that the Chargers needed. A victory would have given then team confidence to win close games and perhaps string a few victories together to gather momentum. After all, the Bolts have not won back-to-back games since November of 2014.
Let that last sentence sink in for a bit.
The Chargers will return home to Qualcomm Stadium in Week 4 to face the New Orleans Saints. This game will provide the Bolts a prime opportunity to get back on track, possibly evening out their record to 2-2 against a Saints’ team that struggles defensively.
Here is to hoping that the Chargers do NOT lose another key element to their roster for the fourth consecutive regular season week in a row.
Please comment below on what miscue, by players or non-players, was the main contributor to the loss in Indy.
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
Danny Woodhead is wide open.
If someone were to have told me, that Philip Rivers would throw for 503 yards, two touchdowns with no interceptions – that Keenan Allen would pile on the 14 receptions for 157 yards AND the Chargers would dominate time of possession but still would lose the game??
I would have asked you to check yourself into rehab.
Leading up to Sunday’s game, there was hardly anybody that picked the Chargers to hang with the Packers. After all, Green Bay was 9-1 against San Diego, a 10-point favorite and had not lost at home since December 22, 2013. There were some sports pundits that made viewers feel that the Bolts were going to star in the 1974 movie “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” However, what was happening before our very eyes seemed to sway more towards the Biblical tale of “David vs. Goliath.”
With career days for Rivers and Allen, visions of a celebration that would be of epic proportion appeared to be a very strong possibility. The game plan implemented going into Lambeau, was planned perfectly. The “dink-and-dunk” theory had shown in the past that it would work against the Packers. And who is better to execute that philosophy than Rivers, Allen and Antonio Gates (9 receptions for 95 yards). The question during the game was not “Can the Chargers offense continue to move the ball?” It was rather, “Can they stop the Packers’ offense?”
Has anyone ever coined the phrase “Offense wins championships?”
It has been said that Paul “Bear” Bryant coined the phrase “Defense wins championships.” I am in total agreement with this statement. With an average offense at best, look at what Seattle has done over the last few seasons with their “Legion of Boom.” Like it or not, people remember great defenses more so than great offenses.
Let me check your football history. Raise your hand if you have heard of:
“The Steel Curtain.”
“Purple People Eaters”
“Monsters of the Midway”
Those teams dominated the defensive side of the ball and won Championships. Of course there are creative offenses that are a household names as well:
“Greatest Show on Turf”
However, outside the St. Louis Rams, no other offensive team listed won a Super Bowl. What does that tell you? What it tells me is that offenses sell tickets and win games, but defenses win Championships. The 2000 Baltimore Ravens and 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were two other Super Bowl winners who had league-leading defenses. The quarterbacks that lead those offenses? Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson, respectively – neither of whom could hold a candle to Philip Rivers
Now back to my earlier question, “Can they stop the Packers’ offense?” The indisputable answer would be “No.”
The defense has improved with personnel, however they continue to struggle; injuries or not. In fact, this passage from ProFootballFocus.com sums it up perfectly:
“The Chargers front seven continues to be completely ineffective against both the run and pass. On the defensive line, not a single player had a pass rushing grade of +1.0 or above. One has to wonder how much more they have to see from Donald Butler (-3.8) until they decide to go with someone else at inside linebacker. On Sunday he was a complete non-factor, collecting one stop in 56 snaps. He has graded negatively overall in every single game this year.”
For a while, the defense showed life in the second half, as Aaron Rodgers could not move the ball; resulting in back to back three-and-outs. Unfortunately until San Diego can consistently stop good offenses from moving the ball, the Chargers will continue to lose in heartbreak fashion. It does not matter how amazing Rivers plays, or how many fumbles Melvin Gordon has coughed up, if they cannot disrupt the opposing team’s offense by mixing up their looks, theirr record will continue to be paltry at best.
There is no doubt in my mind, that this 2015 San Diego team can compete at a high level and go far into the playoffs. Even with a 2-4 record, even with the players being infected by the injury bug, San Diego was still one play away from beating Pittsburgh at home and one play away from going into overtime against the undefeated Packers in Green Bay.
By the way, for those still wondering…Woodhead is still wide open in the end zone.
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
On July 14th @ 2:00 pm, City Council will vote to approve $2.1 Million in part to fund an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which is necessary for a stadium vote to take place by January.
If there is a time to attend a rally, this is it. We need all of San Diego out in blue and gold.
The City is quickly advancing with the environmental studies that are required for a public vote in January.
The EIR must be completed and approved by Council no later than October in order to make a January 12 vote possible.
The City is streamlining the EIR process by assigning city staff members to the project in addition to the 60 consultants that would be provided by AECOM.
AECOM provided NFL stadium expertise for Seattle, Miami, Indianapolis, and worked on stadiums for the 2012 London Olympics, 2016 Rio Olympics, and 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Here’s a breakdown of the $2.1 Million expenditure and some background:
Up to $1.2M for consulting firm AECOM
Up to $380,000 for city staff time
Up to $200,000 for conceptual design
Up to $320,000 contingency fund
The total cost will be covered by a $2.1 million one-time payment the city received, as a reimbursement, from the state to cover the city’s costs to comply with some “unfunded” state mandates and new regulations. This will not impact existing budget priorities.
THIS VOTE IS KEY FOR MOVING AHEAD WITH A NEW STADIUM. PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD!
WHAT: Rally before critical City Council stadium vote, then filling the Council Chambers to show support
WHO: All Chargers (and NFL) fans
WHEN: Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 1:30 – 2:30 PM
WHERE: Civic Center Plaza (in front of City Hall), 202 C street, San Diego California, 92101
*NOTE: THE VOTE WILL START AT 2:00PM IN THE COUNCIL CHAMBERS (202 C street, 12th floor).