Not pictured: The Chargers players that couldn't wait to get back to the bench on the sidelines. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
I hope everyone believes me now when I say that the 2011 San Diego Chargers are just not a good team. The defense is not very good, giving up 24 points to an incredibly simplistic offense filled with backups, rookies and QBs playing their 3rd game of the season. The offense is not very good, completing less than 50% of their passes.
This team starts and stops with Philip Rivers, who needs to be accurate to be effective. He is not accurate this season, and therefore not effective, so the team can not "start" and can not put itself in a position to win.
If you'd rather not blame Rivers, you can blame health. Kris Dielman missed this game, Marcus McNeill left with a neck stinger and Louis Vasquez left with an ankle injury. The remaining 40% of the line couldn't keep the Raiders pass-rush off of Philip, resulting in many of those inaccurate Rivers penalties. However, then you have to ask why the Chargers always seem to be fielding a roster full of backups due to injury. Why can't this team ever have a streak of good health?
The "Fire Norv" bandwagon is gaining steam tonight, as it should. Whether or not it's his fault, the players have seemingly lost faith in him and his system. Did anyone seem to be actually trying tonight besides Mike Tolbert (12 touches) and Ryan Mathews (9 touches)? I guess Vincent Brown was playing his heart out, but Vincent Jackson seemed content to wait for passes to hit him in the stomach rather than actually trying to catch them himself.
The defense certainly seemed to be trying, but they also looked like a toy that the Raiders were playing with. Oakland knew exactly where the soft spot would be on every play and exploited it, only partially because of the weak pass rush by San Diego. Michael Bush having 240+ yards is an occurrence that not many defenses around the league could imagine happening, even if he is a very good backup RB.
This roster lacks depth, and also lacks players that can stay healthy. The offense lacks any semblance of heart, a gameplan or fundamentals. Why weren't they running up to the line to spike the ball on the final drive? Why did Norv call for a 50 yard pass on 2nd & 1 when his offensive line was decimated? Where were the screen plays to fight the pass rush? Or even quick passes? Why were there 14 total rushes when both Mathews and Tolbert were having success? There seemed to be a lack of leadership on offense, defense and on the sideline.
I like Norv. I respect Norv. I wish him plenty of success in his career, but at this moment it's difficult for me to root for anything but more Chargers losses to ensure that this team will be better coached in the future. It may not be his fault, but part of the job of the Head Coach is to take the blame when the team plays without heart, fundamentals or toughness. Maybe he can fix whatever is wrong in the next 10 days.