Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Week 2 Proves Chargers are Not Ready for the Big Time

I had very high hopes for the Chargers going into the game last Sunday. I knew the Patriots would be a difficult matchup; they have two very good TE's, a solid running game, and arguably the best QB in the game in Tom Brady.  All that considered, I believed the Chargers could go into Foxboro, and punch the Patriots in the mouth. Obviously, that did not happen.

In Week 2, the Chargers proved, at least from a talent standpoint, that they have the talent to play with any team in the league. However, the intangibles were simply not there. The Patriots turned 4 Chargers turnovers into 17 points, and won by 14. The Chargers made critical mistakes at crucial times. Rivers threw two picks in Patriots territory, including a terrible pass that was picked when he tried to force the ball to Antonio Gates.  It was one of the worst decisions I have seen Rivers make it a game, and boy was it a killer.

I am not trying to discount anything New England did in this game, they are a definite Super Bowl contender, but the Chargers beat themselves in this game. The turnovers, the coaching mistakes, the execution. None of it was there. The Bolts racked up almost 500 yards of offense, 29 first downs, and still only came away with 21 points.

One play that has come under much scrutiny is Norv's gamble on 4th and goal. The Chargers trailed 10-7 at that time, and a field goal would have tied it. The conservative approach would have been to kick the field goal, and try and stop Brady. Personally, I like what Norv did, although a sweep to the right was not the best play to run in that situation. Norvell knew that he had to gamble to win this game. Getting field goals, while Brady carved up the defense was not the right approach. Turner tried to get 6, and it backfired. I do not fault Norv in that situation.

I do however, blame Norv, and defense coordinator Greg Manusky for failing to prepare the team adequately. Well prepared teams do not make the mistakes the Chargers made. Whether it was the soft ass coverage the Chargers played at the end of the first half, that allowed the Patriots to get a quick 3 points, or it was Mike Tolbert's ridiculous fumble when the Chargers had a chance to take a fourth quarter lead.  I love Tolbert, but your 260 pounds, and you are not Barry Sanders.

All things considered, I believe the Chargers can contend for a championship. They have a great QB, offensive talent, and an above-average defense. Until they play smart football, they are doomed for another disappointment. History repeats itself.

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