What a difference a week makes. Despite many of us working ourselves into a frenzy (yet again) during the preseason over what, at least on paper, looks like a roster that can compete, the Bad News Chargers showed us that not much has changed in Bolt-land.
Same, ‘ol, same ol.
Once again, on a national stage, the Chargers found improbable ways to lose a football game. New leadership, an overhauled offensive line, reasonably good health, and better depth in the secondary seemed to make no discernable difference at all on the field.
Though the retooled offensive line had moments individually, they had no answer for the Broncos’ blitz packages. Nor could they consistently win the battle at the line of scrimmage on running plays. When the holes were there, Gordon missed them. He seemed to lack some of the fire and determination from last season.
The offense looked out of sync and unprepared to handle the crowd noise. Even KA dropped two passes in a single game for the first time. Hunter Henry was a non-factor somehow. Perhaps most disappointing is the fact that they looked out-coached, at times, out-prepared.
CHARLOTTE, NC – DECEMBER 11: Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers reacts after a play against the Carolina Panthers in the 3rd quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 11, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The defense did enough to win a football game for the most part, aside from some shoddy tackling, and a couple of breakdowns in the run defense. Casey Heyward’s drop of a pick six set the tempo for the first half.
It wasn’t perfect but despite being gassed from being on the field too much, the Bolts defense gets credit for never caving. They managed to maintain their intensity and continued giving the team opportunities.
The pass rush was as advertised but, of course, another quarterback decided to have his break out game against the Chargers. Siemien was nails under tremendous pressure, making big-time plays while getting smacked around good nearly every time he stepped back to pass. Who knew?
Feeney’s missed assignment that lead to the missed field goal attempt that would have sent the game into overtime with the Chargers carrying all the momentum was a fitting end to a story Chargers’ fans are all too familiar with. If this team didn’t have so much potential, the ineptitude, missed opportunities, and plain bad luck might not be so hard to swallow. Now Verrett’s having issues.
No one should give up on this team. In the NFL, teams can get hot. The Patriots got lambasted by the Chiefs and the Seahawks were worked-over by Green Bay. No one is suggesting they pack it in. One game is not an indication of an entire season. The offense clearly had some rust to shake-off and no one should be surprised if they look much better against the Fish at home, in the opener. Certainly, a three-point loss to a division opponent on the road (at Mile High, no less) is nothing to be ashamed of.
But they’ll have to play a lot better if they hope to compete in this division, this season, with this schedule. They’ll have to manage the clock better, provide a cleaner pocket for Rivers, and get more push up front in the running game. And, they have very little time to figure it out and avoid falling into a hole too deep to climb out of.