3 Offensive turnovers, 1 Defensive turnover by the Chargers
Hank Bauer, who is usually the last person to criticize the San Diego Chargers, was on the postgame show on XTRA 1360AM yesterday saying what we all know. "The bugaboo of this team this season has been turnovers." Good teams do not lead the league in turnovers, they lose the turnover battle regularly. The issue is not just that Philip Rivers threw 2 interceptions and that Ryan Mathews fumbled the ball twice, it's that when it happened every Chargers fan shook their head and thought "That's probably what I should expect from him."
Ryan Mathews - 15 touches, 51 total yards, 2 fumbles
Looking back on this Bears game, their defensive gameplan is almost sad. It's the opposite gameplan from what teams have had against the Chargers in recent seasons. "Stop the running backs, make Philip Rivers beat you by himself." Mathews averaged 2.8 yards per carry and Mike Tolbert ran the ball just 3 times.
Ryan Mathews has gone over 100 total yards six times this season. That's an awesome stat until you realize that he did it in every one of the first 5 games of the season and has done it just once since October 9th. The Chargers are 4-2 when Mathews goes about 100 total yards, and their losing streak has coincided with a big drop in Mathews rushing yards, receiving yards and TDs.
Antoine Cason - 3 tackles, 1 tackles assist, 3 defended passes, 1 interception
Cason has not had a strong season and is being targeted regularly by opposing defenses. His game against the Bears was a roller coaster, with him occasionally flashing talent and quickly following it up with some poor coverage. The secondary as a whole has a poor game, despite decent (albeit inconsistent) pressure on Jay Cutler. The Bears' top 3 WRs each finished with at least 3 catches and at least 12.5 yards per reception.
It's almost a shame that Johnny Knox fell down and Antoine Cason got that interception, because an interception makes it look like the defense wasn't completely terrible when it was. After the game, it seemed like there were two schools of thought amongst Chargers fans. Either Greg Manusky is a terrible Defense Coordinator, or he has absolutely no defensive talent and that's why the defense sucks. Maybe it's both.
The pass-rush did everything they possibly could to get at Jay Cutler, and the closest they got was when Travis LaBoy gave Cutler a quick bro-hug before sending him on his way. The Chargers linebackers are good, but there are no big time playmakers there. The Chargers secondary has some good players, but again lack anyone that's going to make a momentum-shifting play. The Chargers defensive line seems talented at not getting pushed backwards, but it's rare that you see them actually moving forward. This defense is a clear example of how easy it is to gameplan when there is absolutely nobody on the field to be afraid of.
Zero 4th Quarter yards, Zero heart, Zero coaching
The sign of a well-coached team is in the two-minute drill. There's no time for huddling, everyone on the field needs to be thinking at least one play ahead and there's no room for mistakes or miscommunications. When it works well, it's like watching a world-class ballet performance. When it doesn't, it looks like that when that guy with the painted belly in section 312 gets up and starts dancing to the Super Chargers disco song.
The Chargers practice the two-minute drill a lot. A freakish amount. I'd be willing to bet they practice is as much as any other team in the league. Yet, when they get put into it (especially on offense) they look lost, confused and sluggish. There's no fire, there's no energy, precision has flown out the door, the plays are being called by a monkey with a typewriter and the field is suddenly covered with oil slicks. Add in Norv Turner confusing Timeouts for Touchdowns and the whole thing gets even worse.
This team will never again have a 4th Quarter comeback victory under Norv Turner. I'm convinced. Remember when him and Rivers were unstoppable when they were down by 1 score and driving at the end of the game? Circa 2007-2009? That seems like forever ago.