EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 23: Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers gets up from the ground after being sacked against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on October 23, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
When discussing the Rex Ryan/Norv Turner kerfuffle last week, I made a point in saying that Ryan didn't fit within the Chargers philosophy. Ryan is one to believe that running the ball and defense wins championships. The Chargers, at least in 2007, believed that championships were won by franchise QBs the likes of Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, etc. The best way to get there was to hire a coach known for creating a franchise QB that won championshops.
The problem with building a team around a franchise QB is that the team finds it difficult to win when the QB doesn't play up to his ordinary standards for whatever reason. I've heard people say "With Ryan Mathews playing this way, the Chargers are loaded once again". Yeah, well, Joseph Addai could be having a wonderful year for the Colts, but it wouldn't matter if Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark were hurt. Everyone is under the assumption the Gates is going to get healthy and Rivers is going to "figure it out". Sunday was a big neon sign that he's not there yet.
For proof that Rivers had a bad game, look no further to the other side of the field. Mark Sanchez, often referred to as being a poor NFL QB, finished the game with less turnovers, more touchdown passes, a better completion percentage and just 3 less yards than Rivers.
Antoine Cason/Greg Manusky
Just about every week, I go over to the blog of the Chargers' upcoming opponent and let that community ask me questions. Here was the very first question and answer on 10/19/2011:
Noble_Lance: I’ve recently kidnapped the entire Jets Coaching Staff and replaced it with me, myself and I. in my stupidity I forgot to ask them what they know about the Chargers, so sitting down with tapes alone in an office I wonder this:
What weaknesses can I take advantage of in the game?
What are the Chargers doing well that I need to take away?
What weaknesses can I take advantage of in the game?
The Chargers run defense has been pretty shaky, and Antoine Cason has struggled against physical receivers. You could maybe give Shonn Greene and Plaxico Burress a slap on the ass and tell them to go take advantage. That’s how coaching works, right?
Also, tell Sanchez to run if nobody is open. The defense has been gouged by QBs running on broken plays.
I'm not posting this back-and-forth to prove that I was right and that I'm brilliant, you already knew that. I'm posting it to point out that the Cason/Burress matchup was a weakness that even a blogger knew to pay attention to, yet Greg Manusky thought it would just work itself out (even after Plaxico caught 2 TDs against Cason). I also thought that it might be a good idea to focus on stopping Shonn Greene (112 rushing yards) and Mark Sanchez (25 rushing yards) on the ground. Why was Manusky playing zone instead?
I don't put Cason's bad performance on him. He's struggled this year, but nobody is great throughout their entire career. He's struggling against physical receivers, which makes some sense considering he broke his hand in training camp. Should the Defensive Coordinator be prepared to give him some help against Burress in the red zone, knowing that? That was one of several coaching fails that lost the Chargers the game.
Big time receivers play big in big games, even against big competition. Remember when Rivers and Jackson used to look forward to going up against Champ Bailey? Darrelle Revis might've slept in Jackson's bed the night before just to get used to always being an inch away from him. Jackson couldn't shake him or beat him deep, although the one time he was targeted deep the ball was overthrown by a lot.
If it was just a lack of big stats, Jackson could've stayed off of this list. However, in a critical point in the game, Jackson let a short pass go right through his hands and into the hands of Revis for a 64 yard play the other way and the end of an important drive for San Diego. Anybody else think the Jets bring out the worst in VJax?
So much for the Chargers being the least penalized team in the league. Against the Jets, the Chargers were penalized 13 times for 95 yards. The Jets got four 1st downs off of San Diego penalties, and most of the Jets' scoring drives were aided by big penalties by the Chargers defensive line and secondary.
Norv Turner/2 Minute Drill
If any of you have been to Chargers practice, even in training camp, and paid attention, you would notice that the offense spends and inordinate amount of time practicing the 2-Minute Offense. They do it at least twice per day. They practice it more than they practice the non-2-Minute Offense, it seems. So, between that and Rivers history with late game comebacks (pre-2010), I was fairly confident that the Chargers would at least move the ball downfield when they started on their own 24 yard line with 1 minute and 29 seconds left.
Instead, what I saw, was an 18 yard pass to Antonio Gates that was quickly followed by the team walking up to the line of scrimmage and wasting 30 seconds of precious game time. Where was the fire, the passion, the hope? They looked like a beaten team that didn't even want to play the final few plays, and that's pretty much what happened. A 3 yard pass to Patrick Crayton in the middle of the field was followed by more foot-dragging and a 4 yard pass to Ryan Mathews in the middle of the field. They were giving up.
I barely saw the last two plays. I may have even been outside, chewing on aluminum foil, at that point. I seem to remember El Capitan throwing deep when none of his receivers went deep. Let me repeat that. There were 37 seconds left and the Chargers needed to go 51 yards with no timeouts, and Norv Turner called a play in which none of the receivers went deep. Rivers, apparently realizing how ridiculous that is, threw the ball deep anyway. By the time the last play happened, I was fully on the bandwagon for firing Norv Turner. Maybe that will pass with time, but this time it feels like it won't.