The San Diego Chargers lost another close game this time to the New Orleans Saints 35-34. The Chargers fell to 1-3 and have a lot of soul searching to do as they have blown a big lead in every loss this season. In a post-game press conference, a somber Philip Rivers said, “Somehow we found a way to top each one (loss).” The main word coming out of the San Diego locker room from Melvin Gordon, Travis Benjamin, and Jason Verrett was “frustrated.” This is a team that should have two, three, heck they should be undefeated and sitting in the driver’s seat in the AFC West. Mental lapses, lack of execution, and peculiar play calling has put San Diego in the basement of the AFC’s teams. These problems have reared their head for the entire Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco era.
Rivers had a good game as he threw for 321 yards and two scores, but a late interception shut the door on a possible comeback. He would have loved to beat his predecessor Drew Brees in his return to San Diego. Rivers let his emotions show after the game because he wanted to win this game for his team. He held back tears and genuinely cares for his teammates as well as football. Brees and Rivers shook hands before and after the game. They had a small conversation and smiled before darting to their locker rooms.
After failing to assert themselves in the run game against Indianapolis, one would have thought the Chargers would try to run it against the Saints. New Orleans came into this game banged up with a defense giving up a lot of points and yardage. They were giving up a league-high 149 rushing yards per game. Instead, Gordon and the backs struggled to gain any traction with just 38 yards on 21 carries. Gordon hit the holes with good intentions, but the San Diego line could not impose their will. They struggled last week too after stellar play against Kansas City and Jacksonville. Gordon scored twice and is doing a good job catching the ball as well. Ken Whisenhunt has to get his guys to buy in on offense. They need to run more sets with two tight ends or I-Formation with Derek Watt at fullback. Gordon runs well in those sets. Hunter Henry had another good performance in the absence of his mentor Antonio Gates. Henry hauled in four catches for 71 yards and his first career touchdown. Dontrelle Inman is the latest Charger to get hot on offense as he showed off his great hands and after the catch ability. He had seven catches for 120 yards and a score. Gordon and Benjamin fumbled late, which helped the Saints score two touchdowns to win it late.
John Pagano and his group forced two turnovers today as Adrian Phillips and Craig Mager picked off the former Charger Brees. Jerry Attaochu and Melvin Ingram dished out some punishment as they sacked Brees. However, the injuries have been adding up over the first four games and it is starting to show. This unit does not look as fast or as spry as it did in the first two games. They were put in bad spots by their offense late in the game, but throughout the game Brees had no problem converting on third down.
Surely, injuries have played a part in the last few seasons for the Bolts, but this is a “What Have You Done for me Lately” league. McCoy and Telesco have only seen 6 wins in their last 24 games. 13 of those losses have been by eight points or less. Whisenhunt has got to get the run game going to protect the Chargers defense and set up the play action. The defense has to play with more swagger and punch teams in the mouth when they run it. This team has the talent and is playing better than their record so it begs the question: Is this the last season for McCoy and Telesco? The team is really frustrated and that is something that does not bode well for them. The best way to cool their hot seat down is to take a page from the Oakland Raiders. “Just win baby, win.”
The Chargers play those same Raiders next week in Oakland.
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