The San Diego Chargers lost 30-23 to the Denver Broncos. Which players, coaches and members of the front office should be held responsible and which actually had good performances in the game?
Author's Note: I did not watch yesterday's game between the Chargers and Broncos. I had the option of spending my weekend not having my heart broken again and took it. I do this about once a year lately (Thanks, A.J.). I'll watch the game tonight and take notes while I do so, which should make for a fun post tomorrow, but I'm doing this post today mostly based on the box score and what I gathered after reading various articles and talking to other members of the BFTB staff.
Danario Alexander - 7 catches (11 targets), 96 rec yds, 2 TDs
If A.J. Smith were smart, he would've just put Alexander in Richard Meachem's* jersey after his first game and then cut "Danario Alexander"**. That way, everyone would be sitting here praising A.J. Smith's wonderful offseason signing of Meachem ("He took a little while to get the hang of the offense, but he's a stud now.") instead of his head-scratching ability to sign castoffs contrasting his inability to sign real football players.
Mike Scifres - 9 punts, 54.8 average
Here's where it would've been nice to watch the game before doing this. Did Scifres still look like Kirk Gibson? If so, that makes his 9 booming punts all the more impressive. Especially since Mike's blocking was bad enough to let the Broncos get to him for another blocked punt.
Donald Butler - 7 tackles, 1 forced fumble
All I know about Butler's forced fumble is that it was "awesome". Maybe the best thing about Donald Butler is that he's continuing to play at Pro Bowl level as the talent around him seems to regress over the course of the season. That definitely shouldn't be possible.
Eric Weddle - 5 tackles, 1 interception (returned for a TD)
Does anyone out there still think that Eric Weddle isn't in Ed Reed's league? Weddle has 12 turnovers and 1 defensive TD since getting a big contract from the Chargers before last season. Reed has 7 turnovers and 1 defensive TD over that same time span. Actually, since 2009, Weddle has more touchdowns (3) than Reed (2). That's a fun stat.
Marcus Gilchrist - 5 tackles, 1 defended pass
It looks like the kids (Gilchrist and Shareece Wright) finally got some playing time and did quite well. Gilchrist forced an interception while blitzing and apparently did a lot of other things well too. I'm looking forward to watching an above-average performance by the Chargers secondary.
Jared Gaither - DNP
The San Diego Chargers' second highest paid free agent from 2012 is officially holding the team hostage. He played 5 of the best games of his life at the end of the 2011 season to get his money in the offseason, and since then he's done next to nothing to help this team win. He's played in 4 of the team's 10 regular season games and the team has gone 2-2 in those games (lucky for Jared that two of those games were against the Chiefs). For that, he's getting $9 million dollars this year.
There's no other way to put it: A.J. Smith gambled on Gaither to be the Left Tackle that could save his job. The gamble has not paid off. If anything, Gaither has shown that Smith is a fool to sign a LT that was thrown away by the Chiefs and Ravens to such a big contract. Unfortunately, Dean Spanos is stuck paying the bill.
Dr. David Chao
We've been over this before. However, I am not as quick to blame "the offensive line" for their poor performance yesterday. Had Dr. Chao handled Kris Dielman's concussion properly last season, Tyronne Green isn't playing LG this season. See above for the reason why Mike Harris shouldn't be blamed for his faults at LT. Those two have been big weaknesses, but it's not exactly their fault that they've been asked to start.
A.J. Smith, Jared Gaither and Dr. David Chao should take the brunt of the blame for the offensive line's anemic performance this season (and the struggles of the running game and Quarterback that have come as a result) and, more specifically, yesterday in Denver.
Norv deserves a lot of the blame here as well. The fact that Special Teams, a unit based on execution more than skill, can not seem to get any sort of solid footing with Turner as Head Coach is not surprising. Norv is a great play-caller, I'll stick to that for a little while longer, when he's not in charge of the players. Someone else needs to be there to get on their ass when they run the wrong route, or when a player screws up off the field, and someone else needs to be there to pump them up when they make a great play. This is not in Turner's skillset and it has turned this team into an organization that is managed by the players, a bunch of 20-somethings with huge egos and issues with insecurity. That's why things have gotten as bad as they have.
Someone will put Norv up in the coaches' box again. He'll sit there with sheets of plays in front of him and a smile on his face, as he remembers how much fun it is to do what you're good at, and the San Diego Chargers will (potentially) be better off for it.
*I know that's not his name.
**By "Danario Alexander", I of course mean Richard Meachem*.