Not exactly the model of perfect mechanics. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
The last time the San Diego Chargers took on the Kansas City Chiefs was the first time I wrote a post about the Chargers losing the game. A lot of people were wondering if I was sincere or not, but missed the point. The title of these posts don't really matter, I'm not actually calling my shot that San Diego will lose the game. The point of these posts is to point out that I have zero confidence in the Chargers to win the upcoming game, because they're much more likely to shoot themselves in the foot than they are to play their best.
Are the Chargers a more talented team than the Chiefs? Absolutely. Philip Rivers is a better QB than Matt Cassel when he's not in a funk of turning the ball over. Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert are better than Jackie Battle and Dexter McCluster when they're not fumbling the ball. Antonio Gates and Vincent Jackson are better than any pair of receivers on the Chiefs when they're healthy. Shaun Phillips is probably better than Tamba Hali.
Unfortunately, none of those ratings actually matter. What matters is coaching, which team has the best game plan on both sides of the ball, and playing mistake-free football. The Chargers have won the turnover battle just once this year, against the Miami Dolphins, while the Chiefs haven't lost a turnover battle since Week 2. Want to know how a team as decimated-by-injuries as the Chiefs can go on a 3 game winning streak? They've learned how to eliminate mistakes.
Eliminating mistakes and capitalizing on mistakes by your opponents is how good teams beat bad teams and how mediocre teams finish 8-8 instead of 4-12. For all of the stupid criticisms I've heard about Norv Turner since he took over for Marty Schottenheimer, I've never seen or heard anyone bring up the most glaring stat of his Chargers tenure....so allow me:
|Team Record||Turnover Battle||Turnover Margin||Turnover Margin Ranking|
I don't know about you, but that chart scares the heck out of me as a Chargers fan. The Bolts are on pace to win the turnover battle 2.66 times this season. Maybe I'm looking at this wrong though. Let's just look at how San Diego did in the turnover battle for the first 6 games of each season:
There you go, Norv haters. You want to argue that he's worse than Marty Schottenheimer? Argue that the turnover margin has dropped to such a ridiculous point since Turner took over that the team can't possible compete with the Patriots, Steelers and Jets of the world. Even the A.J. Smith haters could use that stat to argue that his poor drafting has led to a team that can not hold onto the ball or create turnovers.
This is why I keep saying that the 2011 Chargers are exactly the same as the 2010 Chargers. Six games into the season, both teams had lost the turnover battle four times. They are losing the turnover battle 66.7% of the time, and not necessarily winning it the over 33.3%. To expect to win more than 50% of your games with trends like that is absurd. Talented team or not, and who knows by this point, the San Diego Chargers are going absolutely nowhere until someone figures out how to start winning the turnover battle.