First I want to apologize for getting this up so late, my landlord was getting the interior of the house painted today and they had to unplug the internet until they were done.
This is usually the most anticipated and debated about post of the week but I'm guessing that most of you, like me, are trying not to think about what happened last night and keeping your mind on other things. As fans, though, we have the duty to hand out praise and blame to the players and coaches because really that's the only thing we really can do.
To me, what happened yesterday was more stunning and painful to watch than the opening round loss to the Patriots in 2007. While that team also made costly mistakes, those mistakes were things that happened to the team all year and had managed to win despite them. This year was different; after the 2-3 start, the team rarely made any mistakes, they were protecting the ball and creating takeaways, and I couldn't even remember the last time Nate Kaeding missed a field goal.
Anyway, I'm sure nobody will agree with my positions on the following but you guys can add your own in the comments because I might have missed some because of the drinking and what not. Without further ado I present the final Bolts and Dolts of the season.
Kris Wilson: 1 catch 13 yards 1 TD. Only because he managed to catch the only passing touchdown of the day against the Jets defense. I was really struggling to find a true "bolt" on offense since so many of the performances were marked by huge stupid mistakes as well. Wilson was the only player I could find that positively contributed and didn't negatively affect the game.
Antonio Gates: 8 catches for 93 yards. Had that huge one handed catch that set up the first TD. Had one pretty bad drop but other than that was really the most consistent receiver of the night and was able to convert first downs when the Jets knew we were going to him.
Mike Scifres: 6 punts for 297 yards, 49.5 yards average, 60 yards long, 0 touchbacks and 3 punts inside the 20. Mike is still one of the biggest weapons on the team and he was booming them last night after he got lucky on the first one he kind of shanked. He was a big reason why the Jets offense was held in check most of the night. Additionally, even though it was a stupid call, he had a really good onsides kick that was almost recovered.
Vincent Jackson: 7 catches for 111 yards. But seriously, who kicks the challenge flag? I mean REALLY? This doesn't count, but we also heard about his pre-game antics. Maybe we should set up a meeting for Vincent with the world's savior, Tony Dungy. Also, should have made a better effort on the ball that Revis intercepted. Anytime you catch over 100 yards in a playoff game against the league's #1 defense is impressive though.
Darren Sproles: 3 rushes 33 yards, 3 catches 30 yards, 2 kick returns 44 yards, 107 total yards. Darren didn't make it because of his futile attempts at punt returns, but he was able to get it done rushing, catching, and returning kicks. Especially efficient with 11 yards per carry and 10 yards per catch. Was able to get some huge rushing gains when LT was not able to. He probably would have been a bolt if he were in the game more as opposed to LT. Oh well, Darren, you almost got a bolt from me.
Norv Turner: You can question the offensive play-calling and the lack of team discipline all day, but the decision to go for the onsides kick was an absolutely horrendous call in my mind. There is no excuse not to kick away when you have 1 TO, the 2 minute warning, and an offense that hadn't really moved the ball all game except for one big run. The Jets aren't going to go for it on 4th down deep in their own territory. I guess you can say this was a sort of "Belichickian" call and that he would have looked like a genius if we recovered, but I just cannot justify that call, especially at home and under the circumstances. 10 penalties for 87 yards including at least 3 personal fouls that I can remember. For a team that had been one of the least penalized during the regular season, that is just unacceptable and the only person to blame is the head coach. Players were acting stupid instead of focused. I don't really understand what happened here.
Nate Kaeding: 0/3 on field goals. I just don't know what to say about this one, I'm really at a loss for words. Can't really blame him for the 58 yarder at the end of the half, even though he's made one like that before. The most accurate kicker in NFL history. I just don't know.
Ladanian Tomlinson: 24 yards on 12 carries and 3 catches for 0 yards. Way to go mister 2 yards per carry. Went absolutely nowhere. Norv went away from the run really quickly but his ineffectiveness was probably a big reason why. Darren Sproles was able to effectively run so I can't really blame the offensive line. Did absolutely nothing to help the team and once again failed in the playoffs. Unfortunately, I just don't see any chance of him coming back to San Diego last season so that was probably the last game for LT as a Charger. Kind of sad.
Phillip Rivers: Maybe I'm a Rivers lover, but I just can't give him a dolt. I only blame one of the interceptions on him, and it seemed like it was a result of a miscommunication with Gates as opposed to a poor decision. Additionally, he really seemed like the only played on the offense that was actually trying and actually wanted to win. Other players were off kicking flags or committing blatant penalties; he was the only player who had any sense of urgency. The offensive line didn't do him any favors in pass protection and neither did all of the penalties that got gains called back.
Vincent Jackson: See above.
Ron Rivera: The Jets don't exactly have the most fearsome offense in the league but even their run game was absolutely shut down for the majority of the night. The Jets didn't have a first down until mid-way into the second quarter. They only had 262 total yards of offense the entire game. While some of the individual players may have broken down, the defense game plan was terrific and the players were fired up.
Eric Weddle: 8 tackles 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QB Hit. Had the only sack of the game for the Chargers and led the team in tackles. Was flying all over the field making plays on the pass and on the rush. Continues to show that he is the most consistent and able defender on the team and is starting to show real leadership.
Quentin Jammer: 5 tackles, 1 INT, 1 TFL, 2 passes defended. Got called on a horrible DPI call that seemed to be a makeup call for the "incomplete pass" on Malcolm Floyd otherwise would have been 3 PDs. Played terrific man coverage all night.
Steve Gregory: 2 tackles, 2 Passes Defended, 1 QB hit.
Larry English: 2 tackles. I don't really know if he deserves a Dolt but I couldn't really think of anyone else and his utter failure to get anywhere close to the quarterback is really starting to get on my nerves. He is so easily taken care of that the other team doesn't even give him a second thought, they can really put anyone on him to block like a TE or a RB. I'm putting Larry on notice right now that he better show some improvement or else.
None that I can think of.