Don’t count the San Diego Chargers out, despite its loss to the Patriots
In football, there’s an offense and a defense.
Well, the Chargers are actually really good at both these things. Statistically, they’re the best team in the NFL in terms of offensive and defensive yardage per game.
But to the befuddlement of Norv Turner and company, there’s also something called special teams.
And they’re special all right. San Diego has allowed two punt returns for touchdowns, a kickoff returned for a touchdown, and two punts were blocked against the Oakland Raiders resulting in a safety, and… another touchdown.
As if things couldn’t get more embarrassing, two weekends ago saw field goal kicker Nate Kaeding straining his groin on a blocked field goal in the fourth quarter – ushering Kris Brown in as the starter against New England.
With 23 seconds remaining in Sunday’s game, Brown was 45 yards out with a chance to tie. But once again, the Chargers demonstrated a propensity to self-destruct, igniting a false start penalty. Pushed back an additional five yards, Brown missed the 50-yard field goal as the ball reverberated off the goalpost, producing a gonging effect that signaled, for many, the end of Charger playoff aspirations. Had that same kick been made from 45 yards out, it would’ve been good.
But it hasn’t just been special teams issues that have marred San Diego’s performance. The offense may have an addiction to turnovers. Or perhaps, the Chargers mistook Tom Brady’s long hair for homelessness, and in acts of charity, gave the ball back to him 4 times in the first half.
While these Chargers do turn the ball over, they rarely roll over. Quarterback Phillip Rivers once again gave his team a chance to at least tie at the end of the game. But once the goalpost deflected San Diego’s shot at overtime, the ball fell back down to earth, much like the Chargers, and landed with the sort of thud that comes from lofty expectations gone unrealized.
San Diego was supposed to be the class of the AFC West. Instead, they’re last in the division and are quite possibly the best 2-5 team ever. And fans are livid. Many want Turner’s head coaching gig on a platter.
But get a grip amniotic Charger fans.
Sure, Turner’s talented team is off to a 2-5 start during the regular season. And I do mean regular. It’s too regular. It’s fourth-year-in-a-row regular. The Charger’s slow start is San Diego’s least favorite annual event at this point. Including the most recent two losses though, Turner is 29-6 at San Diego after the fifth game of the regular season.
With as much talent these Chargers have, it’s not inconceivable to believe they can run the table from here. Why not? They did it last year.
Special teams issues and turnovers are more correctable than problems throwing the ball, or running the ball, or playing sound defense. These are all things the Chargers have done very well, better than nearly every team in the NFL. And special teams issues and turnovers are far more correctable than Brett Favre’s tactics in seducing women.
So make like a beach town and chill San Diego. Or celebrate. The Chargers are about to catch another gnarly wave to the playoffs…
Photo by Jon Oropeza via Flickr.