I said in the BFTB Pregame Show that, if the Washington Redskins won, I would give credit to Brandon Meriweather for scaring the San Diego Chargers coaches and players into changing their offensive gameplan. I stick by that.
What I saw from the Chargers through most of this game was an offense that felt comfortable throwing deep (taking advantage of Meriweather's poor coverage skills) and didn't feel comfortable throwing the short passes that have become the staple of the offense this season, for fear of the safety's big hits and his talk of going after the knees of receivers that dare go "over the middle".
That adjustment in the game plan, paired with a toothless (and clueless) defense, was almost enough to win the Redskins the game on its own. Philip Rivers completed just 63% of his passes and threw 2 interceptions. Keenan Allen and Vincent Brown both had drops that could be easily attributed to them hearing the footsteps of a nearby defender. Runs to the outside, left or right, were nowhere to be seen.
Still, with the offense being as hamstrung as it was and the defense unable to put pressure on Robert Griffin III or stop Alfred Morris, the Chargers ended up in a dream scenario. They were down by 3 points, a half-yard away from a touchdown, with 30 seconds left in the game and two timeouts.
What should've happened was a testament to stubbornness. Ken Whisenhunt and Mike McCoy should've done power running repeatedly. Ryan Mathews (or Le'Ron McClain) should've run behind John Phillips, Jeromey Clary and D.J. Fluker. If it didn't work on first down, the team should've tried it once more. If it didn't work the second time, the team could call timeout and then try a pass play, with Rivers knowing to throw the ball through the back of the end zone if nobody was open. At least, if the team settled for a FG, they would know it was because they had lost the battle in the trenches (against a team with a horrible run defense).
Instead, the playcall was a draw to Danny Woodhead (who had, very obviously, broken his nose on the previous play). When that predictably didn't work, Ryan Mathews and John Phillips came in. Power running, right? Wrong. The not-so-mobile Rivers rolled out to his right, giving the defense only half of the field that they needed to defend, and then threw the ball away when nobody was open. Then Woodhead was brought back in for some other random pass play that stood no chance in the face of a Redskins team that could blitz six because the Chargers only had three receivers.
It was the worst goal line playcalling I think I've ever seen, save for the goal line series against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Chargers last game. There's a reason Kyle went over the goal line offense this week, and it's because it stinks.
The Chargers should be flying back to San Diego thinking "We should've lost that one, but we scratched and clawed and fought to get to 5-3." Instead, they're flying back thinking "We should've won that one, but we were outcoached and outtoughed by a 3-5 team."
I had said that winning the game after a bye was tricky, and Mike McCoy wasn't ready for it. Kyle had said that the goal line offense needed to change, and Ken Whisenhunt hasn't changed a thing. John Pagano called a terrible game on defense, but I don't think there's a coach in this league that could get anything out of this defensive roster. There's just not talent there. So, I'll leave him out of it for now.
This, truly, is the definition of snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory, and it was a staple of Norv Turner's San Diego Chargers. Between this game, the loss to the Tennessee Titans, and the loss to the Houston Texans, it has quickly become a staple of Mike McCoy's Chargers as well.