Roundtable: The San Diego Chargers lose to the Houston Texans

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

A handful of Bolts from the Blue staff members go on a little rant about what happened on Monday night.

Hello, my friends. I know you're all probably still in a state of mourning, but I was wondering what your thoughts were on the Chargers' loss to the Texans on Monday night. Hint: This is your opportunity to rant a little, but please be easy on our eyes by keeping it from turning into an essay. Ready. Set. Go.

Jason Peters : Let's start with the good. Despite how it may have appeared to the naked eye sometimes, the run defense was actually pretty decent yesterday. The Texans collectively ran for 120 yards on 28 carries, a 4.3 yard per carry average, and the longest run allowed was 14 yards. Against one of the best run offenses in the league? I'll take that. For the first 5/8 of the game, the offense also looked really good - producing touchdowns on four of the first six possessions. Rivers was decisive, getting the ball out on time, and accurate as well.

This leads into the bad. The offense was atrocious for the remaining five drives of the game, totaling 10 yards, no first downs, and a turnover. Philip Rivers was particularly bad, going one of nine for eight yards and an interception in that stretch. Perhaps just as much to blame for allowing the comeback was the Chargers pass defense, which looked downright inept yesterday. Schaub looked sharp on most of his throws, but even his poor ones were often completions because his receivers were so wide open. This wasn't any particular defensive back getting burned, either. I saw Cox, Wright, and Marshall all regularly getting beat in coverage. The Chargers will need to figure this out quickly if they want to have a chance against the Eagles offense.

Succinct and to the point. I like it. Who's up next?

Superduperboltman : Jason said exactly what I was thinking about the run defense. What worries me is the lack of a consistent pass rush and poor coverage by the secondary. Other than that, it's troubling that Eddie Royal was the most impressive receiver. It's also troubling that the linebackers can't cover very well, either. There's a lot to improve on. There was certainly a look of promise that this team can compete and maybe finish with that potential 9-7 record...

Shorter and sweeter. This is going well so far. What say you, fearless leader?

John Gennaro : The positives: The coaching is there. Mike McCoy's game management was good, Whisenhunt's offense was creative and the defensive play calls were mostly dead on.

The negatives: The Chargers don't have enough talent or depth. There was an obvious drop-off between the guys that could make plays (Rivers, Gates, Mathews, Hardwick, Fluker, the entire front seven except Bront Bird, Eric Weddle) and everyone else.

Last night didn't feel like 2012, when suddenly the decision-making would go terribly wrong and everyone was too stubborn to do anything about it. Last night felt more like the 2000 Chargers, who went 1-15 but seemingly gave up a fourth quarter lead in every game because the team would be too fatigued to keep up with their opponent.

This wasn't a game that was lost by the coaching staff or even the players. This was a game lost by the GM (not the current GM, I'm talking about the GM that brought in most of these players). There wasn't enough depth to keep players fresh and there wasn't enough talent to hold off a very talented Texans team.

The good news is that most team's are not as good as Houston, and San Diego should be getting Manti Te'o and Melvin Ingram back at some point this season. Oh, and the future looks bright for Mike McCoy and Philip Rivers.

Hmm. I thought I was going to get a lot more negativity than this. It's still early, though. Let's move on.

David Marver : Every time I think the Chargers have played the most quintessential "Chargers" game possible, they prove me wrong. This game had nearly everything "Chargers" you could think of: a large squandered lead, Philip handing the opposition six points, a bogus penalty call that proved to be the difference, talented players conspicuously on the sidelines during crunch time, several calamitous special teams plays, you name it. I shutter to think something more "Chargers" could possibly happen, so I'll just submit to the football god and pray nothing like this ever happens again to this tortured fan base. Do you hear me football gods?!? I give up! You win!

Also, I don't believe in the "good loss" theory you may hear from sympathetic fans (and/or bored Padres fans in September). If you can't beat good teams at home, how could you ever win a playoff game? Championship or bust should be our mindset, and this loss most certainly points more to bust than championship.

There we go. That's the type of negative sentiment I was expecting from the get-go. And an appeal to the football gods for mercy to boot. Bravo, sir.

Nick Shepherd : Football, in a weird way, is very similar to boxing. There are so many angles that a team can be attacked from that it's nearly impossible to account for every one on every play. That's where good coaching and gameplanning come in. The good boxers and coaches understand that if they throw a certain punch, play or formation at a team early, it can affect how the opponent will defend against them later and use it to develop a strategic plan of attack that flows from one tactic to another.

The Chargers began the game with and excellent game plan. They lined up in heavy formations and ran the ball away from JJ Watt like he was Jadeveon Clowney. The Texans began blitzing the Watt-less side, so the Chargers spread the field horizontally, using short throws to Danny Woodhead and Antonio Gates to exploit soft spots in the newly opened field. All of this set up the haymaker - the first drive of the second half (and the most effective use of no-huddle by the Chargers) was all predicated on the deep ball to Floyd, again, set-up up by the success Charger players had gotten underneath. The Texans were dazed, but not knocked out.

Although dazed, Wade Phillips decided to go down swinging. When the Chargers started throwing deep, he brought out the began furiously counter-punching with reckless blitzes: basically desperation attempts to knock the Chargers out before the last round, because he knew he had already lost the judges.

To beat the blitz you need a smart, decisive quarterback who takes care of the football and can hit receivers accurately on the run. Once upon a time that was Philip Rivers. I'm not confident that it still is. The interception was obviously Rivers worst throw of the night, but he also didn't even see Gates and Green several times for what could have been big gains over the middle. He stared down receivers, grounded and one-hopped balls under pressure and almost immediately reverted back to the guy who we spent an entire offseason debating how to "fix." It even made Trent Dilfer and Chris Berman sad.

The good:

  • There was an honest to goodness gameplan that flowed from one possession to the next. This was refreshing.
  • The front seven is beastly.
  • Eric Weddle wasn't totally affected by his terrible haircut and could still play a B- game after stinking up the joint early.
  • Donald Butler is going to be a great linebacker for someone else next year.
  • Manti T'eo was only mentioned a handful of times, and can't be worse than what's on the field.
  • Dwight Freeney is better at everything than I imagined - he even played great against the run.
  • Jarret Johnson was moved around, asked to do different things, and performed all of them at a B level. He was the player we signed.
The bad:
  • Rivers looks like he can't be fixed so much as managed.
  • Ronnie Brown played. (He looked okay, but what does he do that Woodhead/Mathews can't?)
  • Totally abandoning the run in the second half.
  • Bront Bird.
  • Cox being used 15 yards off the ball when his strength is man coverage - i.e., the Cason Deluxe Remix
  • Clary.

Of course you were the first and only one to write an essay, Nick. Of course. See me after class. Next.

SDNativeinTX : I watched two football games Monday Night. In both games, a team got out to a big lead. In both games, the trailing team managed to get its act together in the second half and start coming back. In one game, the team that got out to a good start won. The other lost.

For all the discussion of a new offensive system, I saw a lot (too much) of the former regime's pass routes, running preferences, and play calling rear its ugly head after getting a "comfortable" lead. I saw an unwillingness to run outside. I saw unwillingness to use screens, draws, misdirection, and early down short passes to try and keep a defense guessing.

Did I see improvement? Sure. Last season on national television, the Bolts gave up 35 unanswered points to blow a 24 point lead in the second half to a playoff quality team. This season, the team gave up 24 unanswered points to blow a 21 point lead to a playoff quality team.

One final comment. The back end of this defense will be spoken of in the same terms in the upcoming offseason as the offensive line was spoken of in the last offseason. And if the defensive coordinator is not going to mix in some press coverage sometimes, just as a surprise, maybe a new one will be needed next offseason.

I love that snarky tone re: improvement, Robert. Keep it up. Almost done here, folks.

Jeffrey Siniard : The more I think about this game, the less the outcome surprises me. Houston plays a very physical brand of football and they had enough first half success they weren't forced to abandon their game plan. They had a missed field goal, got stuffed on 4th-and-1, and a tough break on an Andre Johnson catch prevented another long field goal try. The score at half could easily have been 21-13, Chargers.

Avenging JM : For those with a sense of humor, Bront Bird is extremely fun to watch. Sorry - that's all I've got.

God bless you both, AJM and Jeff. Last but not least...a guy whose last name I'll never be able to pronounce for the life of me.

Andrew Tschiltsch : The hardest part for me to wrap my head around was the abandonment of the run game in the second half. Rivers was in the shotgun for what felt like the entire second half, allowing the defense to pin it's ears back and rush the passer. They were no longer keeping the defense honest.
I knew this game was over when the Chargers offense produced a 15 second three-and-out drive after their defense made a great stop midway through the fourth quarter. Ahead in the game, with a tired defense, the Chargers threw three straight incomplete passes instead of trying to bleed the clock.

I felt bad for the defense last night, as those guys played their hearts out. However the same late game issues plagued them as there was no pressure on the QB late in the game when Pagano seemingly stopped blitzing. I don't think it's a coincidence that the only time the defense got off the field it was because they forced Schaub to throw quick.

I'm scared to think what happens to the Chargers next week after they get tired against Philly.

That's it. Let's hope that better days are ahead. Please vote below and, as always, tell us what you think in the comments.

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