Well folks, it happened again – the Chargers lost; this time to Denver: Chargers 23 – Broncos 30.
The Chargers are now 4-6 and the Broncos are 7-3.
The season is over. There is no chance anymore for the Chargers to get into the playoffs… maybe in the theory of math, but we are here in NFL reality.
And that reality says: The division title goes to the Denver Broncos.
Now let’s take a closer at the game and grade the Chargers in all three phases: offense, defense, and special teams.
Same old story in 2012: The Chargers offense sucks!
I don´t know how this could happen all that fast. The Chargers were once known for having a thrilling, awesome big-play offense.
Nowadays Chargers fans have to deal with sick feelings everytime Philip Rivers gets the ball in his hands.
Listen to this: The first 12 Chargers drives ended with 10 punts, two turnovers, and zero points! What the f…?
The O-Line once again had a very bad game. Of course the line is very injury-prone this season, which is contributing to their poor performance. The undrafted rookie Mike Harris again played for the full-time injured Jared Gaither. Tyronne Green had to leave field due to a hamstring injury.
Even rookie center Dave Molk had to replace Louis Vasquez (ankle) at right guard temporarily.
So with backups at left tackle, left guard and right guard, one could think the only starter Philip Rivers could rely on was Jeromy Clary at right tackle – far from it!
Clary allowed one terrible sack on Rivers by Von Miller. Clary was looking inside and Miller came off the edge, untouched, to sack Rivers on a third-down.
Obviously the line didn´t hear Rivers´ call due to the crowd noise. And wow, anyone could see how Philip was pissed (*surprise, surprise*).
After all, the O-Line allowed four sacks – this makes 26 sacks in just 10 games! *Shaking my head*
But I gotta admit, the Chargers offense surprised me in the second half.
They were actually able to put up good drives – something we did not see in the first half.
Two of those drives ended in touchdown scores, both by Danario Alexander. This guy really was an amazing pick. He seems to connect with Philip Rivers pretty well, the complete opposite of – Ugh! – Robert Meachem.
And what about the Chargers’ rushing game?
I don´t know what to think about Ryan Mathews. He has great talent and was expected to have a breakout year. But what do we get to see of him? Little production: 47 yards on 15 carries (3.1 YPC)!
I know the O-Line got its part on that issue, but the blame definitely has to be put on Mathews as well.
I don´t know why Norv constantly called plays that run through the middle. Mathews has been stopped early again and again.
Speaking about the Chargers’ rushing game, another name has to be mentioned: Jackie Battle. He got the start over Mathews – another questionable decision by Norv Turner. I don´t want to spend too much time on Battle here, because the following stat speaks for itself: -3 yards rushing and one yard receiving… ridiculous!
But despite another overall bad offensive performance, I wanna give Philip Rivers and the whole Chargers passing game some credit here. Even after that disastrous first half, they didn´t give up, showed heart, and put up some numbers.
Offense grade: D
Yes folks, they screwed up again. Another blocked punt and a turnover caused by the Chargers punting unit. Great similarity to last week´s blocked punt.
As I said on my last Report Card, the special teams used to be solid… at least ’til last week´s match-up. Because in the last two games they showed us their other face – it´s an ugly one (*2010 flashback* – Ugh!).
And again Mike Scifres got hurt on this play. But just like last week, he showed his toughness and stayed in the game to do his job for the rest of the game (you hear this Mr. Jared Gaither? This may be new to you, but there are actually people out there who´re doing something for the money they get paid… “Big Lazy”).
Speaking of Mike Scifres: He was out there to kick 10 punts – as we already heard, one of them wasn´t successful. So nine punts with an average of 54.8 yards. I guess it´s fair to call that “solid.”
Darrell Stuckey again had a good game (stopping the returner early, catching a Scifres punt on the two-yard line), and even Eddie Royal had a nice 27-yard return, but due to a holding penalty (by Shareece Wright), the Chargers’ offense had to start their drive on their own 10-yard line.
For the first time in this season, there hasn´t been a field goal attempt by a Chargers kicker. So, not exactly a busy game day for Nick Novak. But he found another way to shine with a successful onside kick to open the second half.
Besides that turnover, which let to a touchdown by the Broncos, they actually had a decent game. But just like last week, that blocked punt and turnover was too painful.
Special Teams Grade: D-
If I remember correctly, the Chargers rushing defense had been ranked second best in the NFL this season. Well, no more after this game!
They allowed 133 yards on 25 rushing plays by the Donkeys’ backs (5.3 YPC).
Even when their No. One rusher Willis McGahee was out due to a torn MCL, the backups Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball had absolutely no difficulty adding some solid numbers to the Broncos´ rushing stats.
Well, I guess that shows how much nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin adds to that run defense. His absence was absolutely noticeable, to say the least.
The secondary got beat several times, but luckily for the Chargers, Peyton Manning overthrew his wideouts more than usual.
But overall, the secondary played surprisingly well. Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright have been especially solid in coverage of Denver´s wide receivers.
Well, when speaking of Shareece Wright, I have to add that he got toasted by Manning on a 31-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Stokely. But despite that play (and the above mentioned holding penalty), he has been one of the best Chargers on the field.
But of course, with five tackles and one defended pass (which led to an interception by Eric Weddle), Marcus Gilchrist has to be put even higher than Wright on the plus side of the list.
Going further in that list… what name do we read above Gilchrist? Eric Weddle, of course, our Pro-Bowl beast! He also had five tackles and returned the already-mentioned intercepted ball into the end zone for the first points of the game!
And let’s not forget Donald Butler and Shaun Phillips, who again made some impact plays. Butler had seven tackles and a forced fumble, and Phillips came up with a sack and a safety early in the third quarter.
And finally, one of the two highest picks in this year´s draft came up with sacks – not just one, but two! And no, I´m not talking about Melvin Ingram (who again was close to getting the quarterback) – I´m talking about Kendall Reyes! Right on kid! We wanna see more of that!
So with three sacks on Peyton Manning, it´s safe to say that the pass rush by the Chargers front seven finally has been pretty solid.
But the really bad run defense left a black mark on the overall pretty good Chargers defensive performance.
Defense Grade: B-
So what did we learn from that game day?
Well, we got no chance to get into playoffs anymore; we got no chance to compete with NFL teams outside of Missouri; and there are obviously no answers to getting these issues fixed, other than signing free agents that have been cut by other teams in the league.
That stinks to high heaven! And as the fish (no, not the Dolphins) “stinks from the head,” we have to cut that head. To be more specific: FIRE AJ SMITH and FIRE NORV TURNER and REBUILD THE BOLTS!!
It´s surely not easy for Dean Spanos to take that step, but it´s obvious that change has to be made as soon as possible!
They have to build a team around Philip Rivers.
In the first line this means the Chargers need an O-Line that Philip Rivers can rely on.
He is a pocket-passer and probably the most “unmobile” quarterback in the league. Don´t get me wrong, I don´t want to blame the O-Line for all of Rivers´ mistakes. He made crappy decisions and passes when he had plenty of time. But it seems he feels rushed constantly, even when no rush is put on him.
So again: It´s time for a change in Bolttown! Rebuild The Bolts!
Thank you for reading and feel free to comment below.