Report Card: San Diego Chargers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Well, my fellow Boltheads, our Chargers lost again. This time in Tampa Bay with a final score of Chargers 24 – Buccaneers 34.

Again we´re finding ourselves complaining: “We should have won this thing.”

I guess besides “Fire Norv” (and maybe “What´s wrong with Rivers?”), this is one of the most desperately repeated phrases by Bolt Addicts all around the world right now.

Regardless, we´re now gonna do what we always do here on Rock the Bolt´s Report Card – and that is grading the Chargers in all three phases.

OFFENSE:

In order to turn the season around, I guess we have to find a legal way to limit Chargers games to only one half (due to their inconsistency on the offensive side of the ball). Any ideas?

Maybe I´m overreacting a bit here, but I´m just frustrated watching the decline of a once so-talented and stunning team, one full of energy and with the hunger to rise all the way to the top and beyond. Where has that “Bolt Spirit,” the spirit we experienced the last couple of years when watching Chargers games, gone?

If I want to see my favorite team losing and playing crappy football to the fullest over decades, then I would have become a Raiders fan!

But okay… now that I let off some steam, I guess I´m ready to recap the game in a bit more constructive manner (can´t promise too much, but I´ll try).

So, speaking of an inconsistent Chargers´ offensive performance – what did we see in the first half of the game?

After my first complaints towards the Chargers offense, it may seems strange if I now praise them for their performance, especially in the first quarter.

But it´s fair, because they really started off well.

The “new” guy on the offense, #84 Danario Alexander, scored a touchdown on the Chargers´ first drive with some nice broken tackles. And Antonio Gates reached the end zone for the 80th time in his career. He is on his way to match the franchise record of 81 touchdown scored by the great Lance Alworth. Two more and you got the record, big man! Next week in Denver, what do you think? Breaking records against the donkeys… sounds pretty familiar (*´06 flashback*).

Philip Rivers threw for 148 yards in the first quarter; he never had more passing yards in the opening quarter.

Late in the second quarter Malcom Floyd added another touchdown for a 21-17 half time lead over the Bucs.

And again I´ve come up with some great Philip Rivers stats: At halftime he was 16-of-18 for 218 yards and three touchdown passes; that makes a passer rating of 156.7!

So looking at these stats, you may question why I am bitching around here and giving our guys on the offensive side on the ball such a hard time.

Well, I can tell you why… because then there was the infamous “second Chargers half.”
The Chargers and the second half of a football game – it seems they just can´t establish a healthy relationship this season.

To be fair, Danario Alexander had some nice first downs (by the way, he had a career high of 134 receiving yards).

But I guess that´s the only bright spot to point out here for the offensive performance of the Chargers in the second half.

Philip Rivers overthrew M80 Malcom Floyd as well as Danario Alexander before he threw a “pick six,” maybe one of the worst in recent NFL history. He can´t throw an accurate pass while he´s “running.” But he obviously refused to accept that fact as he again tried to connect with a receiver (this time Eddie Royal) while he was escaping from the opponent´s pass rush.

But he had no chance to complete the pass as Royal had been covered by three men. Leonard Johnson said “thanks” and took the ball all the way to the house.

Needless to say, Rivers couldn´t get back on track. Instead he threw for another interception in the fourth quarter.

I haven´t said anything about the Chargers rushing game yet. So I´ll do it now: It was crap! But not only in the second half like the passing game. No, Ryan Mathews decided to stay on a low level the whole game: 3.2 yards per catch. Are you kidding me? Okay, Tampa Bay got a tough front seven, but he can do better than that.

The O-Line allowed two sacks on Rivers. But overall they weren´t “the problem.” (If not them, then whom? Hmm…). Considering past O-Line performances this year, one could say they had a decent game.

Offense grade: D (tremendous decrease in the second half against a weak passing defense)

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Man, now the most reliable Chargers unit so far this season screwed up and turned the ball over.

On the blocked punt, Corey Lynch was blocking the outside man, while turning the inside rusher loose. It was easy for Tampa to recover the ball and return it all the way to the (already above mentioned) “house.”

But that touchdown by the Bucs wasn´t the only slap in the face for the Chargers´ special teams on that play; punter Mike Scifres got hurt. But he proved he´s a tough warrior as he returned to the field to do his job for the rest of the game.

Stuckey had a nice move on his (unsuccessful) attempt to save a Scifres punt into the end zone. I´ll say it again, the name “Darrell Stuckey” has to be mentioned, when talking about special teams Pro-Bowl candidates.

Nick Novak also got some playtime; his only field goal attempt was good (34 yards).

As usual they did not allow big kick returns, but that touchdown by the Buccaneers´ special teams was just too painful.

Special Teams Grade: D

DEFENSE:

Alright, now let’s take a quick look at our beasts on the Chargers defensive side of the ball.

First thing to mention here: Doug Martin, the “Muscle Hamster,” who rushed for 251 yards with an average of 10 yards-per-carry and four touchdowns in his last game against the Raiders, was held to 68 rushing yards and 51 yards receiving. This has absolutely has to be put onto the plus side of the list.

If Takeo Spikes would have done a better job on the passing defense on a play in the first half, then that number in the “receiving yardage” column would be much lower for Martin (he gained 42 yards on that catch and run).

Speaking of pass defense – Unlike in the last couple of games, both of the Chargers´ cornerbacks, Quentin Jammer AND Antoine Cason, had a decent game.

Vincent Jackson was held to 59 receiving yards and zero touchdowns, and Tampa Bay´s second wide receiver threat Mike Williams wasn´t able to put up big numbers either; 64 receiving yards, no touchdown.

Donald Butler came up with the only sack on Josh Freeman. Vaugh Martin, and again Melvin Ingram, have been close to sacking Tampa´s quarterback, but again they couldn´t finish well.

The Chargers defense has been solid so far this season, but they have to work on the pass rush. We definitely want to see more sacks.

Defense Grade: B-

Well, Boltheads, it seems the sky over Bolttown stays cloudy.

With that victory over Carolina, the Donkeys now are 6-3.

The Bolts are still second in the division, but a win-loss record of 4-5 won´t put a big smile on our faces.

Although we may be living under darkened skies these days, we’ve got to stay “bolted up!”

Heading up to Denver and hoping the best!
Cheers!

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