5 Bad Things: Minnesota Vikings at San Diego Chargers

Wide receiver Malcolm Floyd #80 of the San Diego Chargers can't hold on to the ball while being defended by Cedric Griffin #23 of the Minnesota Vikings. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Health
To my knowledge, nobody has officially been placed on Injured Reserve just yet. However, NFL Network was reporting last night that Nate Kaeding (torn ACL) and Luis Castillo (fractured tibia) will both miss the remainder of the season after playing less than a full game of football in 2011.

There's obviously more depth at DE than there is at Kicker on the roster, and there's plenty of former Charger DEs out on the street (Ogemdi Nwagbuo, Travis Johnson, Igor Olshansky) that could be called if the Chargers feel they need more help there. However, with Corey Liuget looking fine as the starter on one side, Vaughn Martin and Jacques Cesaire can hold down the fort on the other.

Special Teams
Anybody else feel like turning off their TV and becoming a soccer fan after that first play of the game? The really disconcerting thing about Percy Harvin's 103 yard kick return is that it was his only kick return of the day (thanks in part to some strategic line drives being kicked by Mike Scifres).

One thing is for certain, and it was mentioned on High Boltage Radio Saturday morning, Special Teams is not greatly improved over last season. Bryan Walters is trying to fill the shoes of both Kelley Washington and Patrick Crayton. C.J. Wallace was playing the role of a younger, cheaper Quinton Teal. Rich Bisaccia instead of Steve Crosby cannot change a lack of Special Teams talent on the field. Guys like Larry English, Patrick Crayton and Jonas Mouton need to get back on the field so that they can make an impact here.

 

Rush Offense
Is it just me, or did the offense look exactly the same as 2009 and 2010? No better, no worse. Still incredibly jittery and predictable in the first quarter (or at least until the Chargers are down by 10 points) and still seemingly lacking any sort of respectable ground game, even when the passing offense is doing so well that the entire defense is back on their heels. How does that even work?

The ball distribution was exactly 50/50, with Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews each getting 12 carries. On one of his carries, Mike Tolbert carried the ball into the end zone. However, he finished with less than 3 yards per carry. On one of his carries, Mathews picked up 21 yards. Somehow, he still finished with less than 4 yards per carry. I understand that the Vikings front 7 on defense is strong, but the Chargers will find it hard to win games when their top 2 rushers finish with less yards per carry than the top 2 rushers on the opposing team.

 

QB Containment
I'm not that worried about this, going forward, because Donovan McNabb is probably the most mobile QB the Chargers will face all season. However, guys like Jason Campbell aren't that far off and it would be good if the Chargers could avoid giving up 20+ yard scrambles to these guys every time there's good coverage.

We saw less of it in the second half, when Antwan Barnes seemingly replaced Travis LaBoy as the OLB opposite Shaun Phillips, because the pass rush got better. That's a good start.

 

Turnover Battle
If Norv Turner and the Chargers want to win in the 4th quarter of every game, that's fine. However, it turns football into a high wire act where one small mistake could cost the team the game. That's how you lose to lesser opponents.

If the boys in blue would prefer to win before the 4th quarter, and spend that quarter running out the clock instead, the way to do that would be to win the turnover battle. It has been an Achilles heel of the Chargers for years now, and showed up again yesterday even though they were playing against a QB prone to throw INTs and a RB known for fumbling the ball. Philip Rivers threw two interceptions and, luckily, Jacob Hester's fumble bounced out of bounds or else it could've been even worse.

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