That was the question on everyone's lips after a narrow win at Oakland and a disappointing loss at the Murph last week against Baltimore, but as always, an increased sample size yields a better understanding. The Bolts are still finding their groove and it's difficult to tell who they're going to be this season... More after the jump.
The question here is, which is more indicative of this Chargers team--
1. The gut-it-out ugly win at Oakland?
No question there. The Chargers were pushed around and battered physically. If not for the poor play of JaMarcus LaLoosh, the Raiders easily would've won that game. But hey, they were knocking the rust off, so at least a PART of that can be explained away.
2. The close loss at home, against the Ravens?
This game taught us a couple of things. First, that Darren Sproles (however electrifying he is in small doses) is not now and never will be an every down back. For the record, Michael Bennett was moderately effective, but didn't get many touches, and he's no powerhouse either. The other-- for those of you who've been under a rock for the last three years-- is that Philip Rivers is a top-5 quarterback in the NFL. He torched the Baltimore secondary all up-and-down the field en route to a career-high 437 yards, but distressingly could not get much done in the way of red-zone TDs.
3. Or this week against the Dolphins?
It turned out to be a darn-near runaway win. If not for that garbage-time TD drive led by Chad Henne, it'd be termed a rout. However, is anyone else worried about the sloppy first-half play? Failed opportunities in the red-zone (again), just three points going into the half, and to top it off, a missed Kaeding field goal?
The last one is just gravy. Kaeding is easily one of the best kickers in the league and possibly behind only Carney and Benirschke in franchise history, but it's the little things like that which turn into losses. More problematic is the fact that the offense didn't get their collective act together and into the endzone until there were four minutes left in the quarter. Barring the few breaks the Bolts got today (end zone fumble, Pennington hurt, etc.), they very likely would have been outscored and fallen to 1-2.
No running game.
Need to score early and often.
MUST convert in the red zone.
On the flip side:
Philip Rivers is a boss.
Big, physical recievers can line up across from anyone.
Sproles can run like a rabbit, even if he is about as easy to tackle as a rabbit too.