So it wasn't the game we all envisioned. Who cares? It was silly to expect the Chargers' defense to completely shut down any professional offense without 3 of it's best players. The Browns did the right thing, attacking the kids and going after the lack of depth in the secondary, and they made the game very close in the end.
This was not a trap game and this was not a game where focus was lost. Plain and simple, this was a game that showed off the weaknesses on this San Diego squad. Seven wins in a row is great, but bad health is starting to catch up to them right at the beginning of a tough stretch of games. Without Luis Castillo, the defense struggles to stop the run. Without Shawne Merriman, the defense struggles to get a pass-rush. Without Eric Weddle, there are less blitzes coming from the secondary and Steve Gregory is forced to play Safety (where he is not nearly as effective).
This game came down to health and trust. Did Ron Rivera trust Antoine Cason to cover his man on-on-one? No, and rightfully so. Did he trust Steve Gregory to make the plays in the secondary Weddle would? No, and he's right. Did he trust Kevin Ellison to cover the opposing TE on his own? No, and in instances where it happened the Browns took full advantage.
The score of this game is misleading. It wasn't nearly this close, but that had everything to do with an overpowering offense that couldn't be matched by the Browns no matter how many injuries San Diego's defense had. As I say going into most games, "The worst-case scenario is a shootout, and I like out offense better."
As always, your recommendations for Bolts (and Dolts) are appreciated in the comments. Also, feel free to discuss the Vikings/Cardinals game in the comments here. Here's a quick list of some of my Bolts, before re-watching the game or checking the box score.
- Philip Rivers
- Antonio Gates
- LaDainian Tomlinson
- Mike Tolbert
- Darren Sproles
- Norv Turner
- Shaun Phillips