That was the text I sent my wife when the Chargers were down 14-0. It wasn’t the score but the lack of effort that had me convinced. It was very reminiscent of the game at Santa Clara in 2014 that could have put us in the playoffs. We came back and won but all the things that caused them to fall behind reared their ugly head in that last game at KC. My point is that I was impressed that they came back, especially so quickly. It was amazing that they were able to pull even in the first half. Desmond King did more on a couple of returns than Travis Benjamin has done since he got to the Bolts. Yes, he has scored a few touchdowns but zero yard returns, not to mention the safety in Foxboro, outweigh those plays. It was so appropriate that he couldn’t succeed on a play designed to use his only skill, speed. He got run out of bounds and hurt himself. That’s addition by subtraction, since I don’t trust Lynn not to keep putting him out there.
Lynn is truly starting to look like every coach we’ve had since Bobby Ross. As well as King looked on returns, I’m not convinced he makes the right decisions on the field or with the lineup. It was great to see the Chargers finally go on a 4th down AND run Rivers on a sneak, but listening to Wisenhunt and Rivers talk about it this week there’s no explanation why they never ran it before and whether its success suggests they will run it again. Of course, Lynn elected to punt instead of trying a field goal on the Niners last drive. Derwin James saved the day but that doesn’t mean Lynn made the right call.
He clearly didn’t trust Sturgis, which I agree with, but then decided to keep him on the team. The decision to release Kaser was obviously a long time coming. But then why was he still there? He definitely had his share of shanks, especially the game I went to in Buffalo. It didn’t end up mattering but could have. Sturgis looks like a choker and we would know what one looks like. By the end of the game, his kickoffs weren’t even reaching the goal line. The word on him versus Aguayo was that he wasn’t as like to crumble under pressure. But if Lynn is keeping Sturgis now due to the guaranteed money and two-year deal the team gave him, then they are the cheap and stupid organization everyone in San Diego says they are.
Like putting Kyle Emmanuel and Addae in coverage every Sunday, the fans see what’s wrong. The coaches watch the film, maybe they are just too stubborn to do anything. There looks to be no accountability. CJ Beathard played a gutty game, but how many times did guys not wrap up? So while it was a game that the Chargers have so often lost in the past, it was also a game that featured the same kind of uninspired and careless play we have seen so often before. Of course, not having Bosa in the lineup is a problem. But again, guys were getting to the quarterback but not putting him down. Casey Hayward looks a step behind in pass coverage still.
Offensively, Rivers bounced back from the pick six to start the game. I know he often throws to where the receiver is supposed to be but it just seemed like he carelessly threw a bad pass into coverage. Even on the Mic’d Up segment, Rivers took responsibility for the pass. Of course, he would probably do that even if the receiver was in the wrong spot. He does seem to signal on the field to the guy that it’s the result of miscommunication, though.
It’s always the same with Phil. He starts pointing to the refs, which doesn’t look good on TV. It seemed like all the receivers were looking at the refs to bail them out. Keenan Allen, who played through foot and tooth pain, was hoping for a flag more than once.
Speaking of foot injuries, how appropriate was it that Benjamin couldn’t get more than a few yards on the end around END re-injured his ankle? It doesn’t really matter that he’s out since he hasn’t contributed a thing. The same goes for Barksdale. Melvin Gordon had some amazing runs on Sunday. On that one run where he spun and kept his hand on the ground I was reminded of a controversially called back play which could have been his first touchdown. He also did a great job on the sideline. I know a lot of people want him to get less touches, especially with Ekler’s effectiveness. There are definitely plays where it seems like a huge hole closes up while Gordon hesitates. But there are games he’s taken over and simply refused to go down. The fact that he hasn’t fumbled or gotten hurt is amazing. He did fumble near the goal line, although it went out of bounds. Tyrell Williams, who still has troubles with the easy ones, made an amazing grab on the sideline.
So it’s Raiders Week. I don’t care what the scenario is, that is always important. A loss on Sunday would really make it tough going into the Browns and Titans game. I never want to lose to the Raiders, who did put up 40 plus points on what was being hyped as a very good Cleveland defense. There will be tons of Oakland fans there, but so what? There were tons of Niner fans last week but if you win it doesn’t matter. But the Chargers are walking a very fine line right now between a team that is relevant and the same old Chargers. They cannot come out on Sunday the way they did against San Francisco. They won the toss last week, elected to receive and promptly threw a pick 6. The Raiders will be pumped and looking to go 2-3. They don’t want to hear about Mack, Gruden’s mistakes, or Carr not being the guy they thought he was. The Chargers need to not just think they are the better team, but come out and act like it. There were games last year where they came out and pushed other teams around. They weren’t the ones that mattered, but that was what made people think they could be good this year.
The defense is beyond missing Bosa. That Kittle touchdown was pathetic and completely something we’re used to. The Chargers usually have brain farts like that against Oakland. That can’t happen Sunday. I began this season with the headline “So Much To Prove Especially To Us.” KC and the Rams have been great, but that’s not why the Chargers lost to them. They didn’t need to be great against us. People say Lynn has gone 11-5 in his last 16 games. Every one was to a team that would be considered good and each one could have made the difference. I didn’t see anything in the performances of our next three opponents last week that made me think we could beat them if we played the way we did on Sunday. Instead of dumb penalties and lapses in judgement, the Chargers need to play like a team that sees a chance to do something with their season.
Despite what you might think reading my ramblings, I don’t like being so pessimistic about the Chargers. But games like Sunday make it so difficult to root for them. They do so many things that make it seem like they deserve to lose. The situation with Sturgis exacerbates that feeling. Who the fuck looks at a kicker and says they are going to bring in a 39-year old punter who retired? Not a winning team, I’d say. Caleb Sturgis is a symptom, not the entire problem. But this is the same team that let Nate Keading derail two seasons. I still maintain that the Chargers shouldn’t have let either of those Jet games be that close, but the difference between winning and losing big games is in those plays. The Colts and Ravens let choking kickers go and went on to win Super Bowls.
I’m not convinced this organization isn’t the joke people say it is. Beating the Raiders won’t do the job, but it always helps.
At this point, let’s keep this thing going so there’s some hope. A loss tomorrow extinguishes that. I know I say that every week but I think it’s accurate, no?