I'm sorry, BFTBers, I couldn't do it. Usually I like to watch the Chargers game a second time before making my Bolts & Dolts list, to take the motion out of it and to allow myself to rewind and watch plays more than once (I can't make myself do this during the live broadcast). These last two weeks I haven't been able to stomach the idea of watching the game a second time, and last week I did the Bolts & Dolts on the BFTB Podcast after just that one viewing and then pouring through every stat I could get my hands on about the game.
This week, I'll probably do the same thing (BFTB Podcast tonight at 7pm, where I'll be joined by Steve Adler), but I want to take B&D's usual Wednesday spot to get optimistic (perhaps one last time) about the team. Reasons to still be optimistic about the Chargers lay after the jump.
Week 6 Comparisons
At this point last season, the Chargers were 3-3 and 3 games behind a 6-0 Denver Broncos team. At this point in 2008, they were 3-3 and a game behind those same pesky Broncos. In 2007, San Diego was again 3-3 and tied for the division lead with the Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers, under Norv, have never once been the lone leaders in the division after 6 games.
So, being 1.5 games behind the Chiefs with 10 left to play is probably not means to panic. Also, the Chargers 0-4 record on the road isn't that much worse than the Chiefs 1-2 record on the road. Let's go under the assumption that these two teams play better when at home, and look at the road games they have between now and Christmas.
Talent & Performance
- Kick Coverage - No punt or kick returns for touchdowns in 3 weeks. Don't laugh, this is major progress. Each of the last two games has included a 40+ yard punt return that was stopped by Mike Scifres, but these seem to be getting less frequent. Kickoff returns against the Chargers have sunk to "average" levels.
- Offensive Line - Plain atrocious the last two weeks, but the reason for optimism comes from Marcus McNeill and Brandyn Dombrowski. Dombrowski showed himself last year to be a better RT than what Jeromey Clary has been this season, so when Dombro slides into that role it should help out the right side of the line. Marcus McNeill is a Pro Bowl LT several times over, and once he's "knocked off the rust" there should be no more issues with protecting Rivers' blindside.
- Fumbles - In his first two games, Ryan Mathews carried the ball 25 times and fumbled twice. Since coming back from injury, and adding a sleeve to protect the ball when he carries it, Mathews has carried the ball 30 times and not fumbled once. Assuming that the fumble bug is behind him, and that Philip Rivers is due to get better protection, the Chargers should start to do a better job of holding on to the ball.
- Norv - It seems like this happens every season. The team starts off slow and Norv continues to praise them and call them the best team he's ever coached. Then, usually after they go 2-3, he snaps and starts telling them how awful they are. Then they turn into that great team he envisioned and he looks like a genius. This week, after the loss against the Rams, Norv finally made that change from Nice Norv to Angry Norv. This is an excellent sign.