Losing the Turnover Battle
True to form, the San Diego Chargers have played only one "good" game this season and that game was blacked out to the local television territory. At this point, I'm almost rooting for the team's remaining home games to be blacked out so that the Bolts can play better. They might stand a chance against the Packers if they game isn't sold out!
The Bolts are 4-1 in terms of wins and losses, and 1-4 in terms of the turnover battle. The biggest culprit so far this season, the man who leads the league in interceptions and is just one behind Michael Vick for the league league in turnovers, has been Philip Rivers. El Capitan played his part to perfection again on Sunday, mixing big passes with an interception and a critical fumble late. He was sacked 5 times, and not all of those were the fault of his offensive line.
Thank goodness for the bye week, huh? The Chargers looked like they were returning from war by time the Broncos were making their 4th quarter run. Ryan Mathews was seen with a boot on his foot and on crutches after the game. Antonio Gates is still hurt, as is his backup Randy McMichael. Shaun Phillips had to be helped off of the field. This looked more like a game against the Raiders than it did the Broncos, as the Chargers limped home to lick their wounds before facing the Jets.
The Bolts' run D is looking like the Achilles heel on that side of the ball. So far, San Diego is giving up 113 rushing yards per game and don't seem to be able to slow down anyone with any strategy besides building a big lead. In the last 3 games, they've given up 117 rushing yards (Chiefs, without Jamaal Charles), 116 rushing yards (Dolphins, without Daniel Thomas) and 206 rushing yards (Broncos, without Knowshon Moreno getting a single carry [Editor's Note: Moreno not getting a carry likely helped the Broncos]). None of those teams had much of a passing game to threaten with either.
Whether or not those were a result of the Chargers taking a lead and then protecting against the pass/big play is irrelevant, if the Chargers get used to giving up this many rushing yards to bad offenses just imagine what the Raiders or Jets will do to them.
Zero sacks. ZERO. 0. None from Larry English or Antwan Barnes or Shaun Phillips or Travis LaBoy. None from the ILBs or Defensive Linemen. Tim Tebow escaped one or two possible sacks with his feet, and Phillips forced Orton to throw the interception to Donald Butler, but pressure on the Denver QBs was inconsistent at best.
Red Zone Offense
This should've been the first one, but I'm still not certain I am calm enough to write about it. I mentioned on High Boltage Radio Saturday morning that once Antonio Gates was taken out of the game due to injury, Norv Turner got incredibly conservative with his red zone offense. "Incredibly" was not an overstatement either. I stated that, without Gates, the Bolts red zone offense had essentially turned into three runs up the middle with Mike Tolbert before kicking a field goal. That rang true again against the Broncos.
Out of the 29 points the Chargers scored, only 7 of those came from the Chargers converting a goal line opportunity into a TD. That TD was scored by Rivers running the ball in (always a good playcall) on 3rd down after two runs up the gut for nothing. Outside of the above-pictured near-catch by Malcom Floyd, I can't think of a single pass Rivers threw near the end zone....and that's a problem the Bolts have had since Week 2. If they're going to beat teams like the Packers and Jets and Raiders, they're going to need to score TDs instead of FGs.