1. Denver freaking Broncos
I don't know that I've ever seen the Chargers players hyped up to be making plays as they were against the Broncos. Make a tackle? Get in a fight! Catch a pass? Do a dance! They were so excited to be putting the beat down on their division rivals and finishing the season about .500.
That's all I say about that for now. We're going to come back to this subject in 5 Bad Things later.
Fellas, fellas.....I know you're thinking "I have all this excess energy since we're not going to be playing in the playoffs, let's go nuts!" Here's the thing, though.....you look dumb. Remember when you were walloping on the Cardinals and the Jaguars, and it was like "Yeah! That was a good play! Now I'm gonna jog back to the huddle. Don't want to celebrate too much...you know, it is the Cardinals." Well, you want to know something? The Broncos were worse than the Cardinals.
It's true. Have you seen the 2011 draft order yet? The Broncos did not get the 2nd overall pick (also known as "The first pick after Andrew Luck") by chance, they earned it by being the 2nd worst team in the league. Heck, you could look at their 2011 situation (paying 3 Head Coaches, an inaccurate QB, an aging defense) and say they'll be even worse off next season.
The Chargers should've won this game by 20 with their backups. Instead they win by 5 with their starters and spend the time on the field acting like every big play just won them the Super Bowl. I was embarrassed.
2. El Capitan
What was all that talk about "Philip Rivers is taking this game very seriously." I love the guy, but it looked like he spent the last week or so on the golf course instead of at practice. The interception was a rookie mistake, and his 56.8% completion percentage was more on him than it was his receivers. Philip just didn't seem sharp, and seemed to spend the whole game angry at himself for not being sharp. Maybe it was "just one of those games", but it seems to me like Rivers never seems to have a great game unless there's actually something to play for.
3. Antwan Applewhite
I like Double A as much as the next guy, but this season showed the weaknesses in his game. He's a smart player that is somewhat lacking in speed and strength. As a pass-rusher, he's almost invisible. As a run-stopper, he can get in the way but rarely makes a play. Perhaps the long season wore him down, after a season off with injury, but the last few weeks it seems like offenses were attacking him successfully when he was on the field.
OLB was a real problem position this year, it reminded me plenty of the 2008 Chargers season. The team went searching for answer with Larry English, Antwan Barnes and Antwan Applewhite and nobody came close to being in the league of Shaun Phillips or Shawne Merriman.
If A.J. Smith were to use the Chargers top draft pick on a can't-miss OLB, I certainly would not complain.
4. Steve Crosby
Let's use our imaginations for a second. Let us imagine that the Patriots are really bad next season. They have a bad draft, some injuries and it ends up with them finishing under .500. Do the Patriots fire Bill Belichick? No.....and do you know why? Because they know he's a great coach who maybe had an off year with coaching and personnel, but have faith that he'll turn it around.
Steve Crosby is one of the league's best Special Teams coach. Seriously. Kassim Osgood, Hanik Milligan, Mike Scifres, Nate Kaeding...these are guys that Charger fans should be thankful A.J. Smith drafted, and be thankful that Steve Crosby coached. Now Crosby, who had an off year with coaching and personnel, gets shitcanned and becomes the scapegoat for a lost season.
Is it justified? Maybe.....his unit was really bad. The issue now becomes "Can the guy that replaces Crosby be better than Crosby?" and "Will Crosby land somewhere that could hurt the Chargers?" Imagine Steve landing in the AFC West, and for the next 5-10 years he's once again coaching up a unit that is amongst the league's best. Then imagine that during that span the Chargers keep hiring and firing new ST coaches to try and find the right match. That's obviously the worst case scenario, but it's a possibility for sure.
I'm not saying he shouldn't have been fired. This is how the NFL works. In some ways, you have to appease the fans and point blame so that they buy in against next season. However, the smarter fans should be unhappy with the fact that the ST coaching situation just went from "Great coach who had an offseason, and might have more or might rebound" to total and complete unknown.
5. Draft Position & Schedule
We've gone over this a million times, but the Chargers missed a great opportunity to protect their starters, get their young kids more time on the field and possibly start off 2011 with better picks against weaker competition. To each their own, I suppose, but a 9-7 season where the team misses the playoffs looks pretty much the same as a 8-8 season where the team misses the playoffs. Both of them look like neon signs that say "Find ways to get better next season so that you don't miss the playoffs." The Bolts didn't really try and do that, at least not this week.
You guys are obviously going to hate any list I put together, but allow me to backup my Good points from yesterday...
No name guys - Yes, Brandon Lang made a stupid (rookie) mistake by punching a guy. He also got a sack in limited playing time. It's something to build on. In the same light, the rest of the guys I named played well in the limited time they were given in the game. Do I wish they played the whole game? Absolutely, but in the few plays they were in they made plays and looked promising.
Special Teams/No Fumbles - When I said "No Fumbles", I should've said that it was a step in the right direction to not fumble directly into the hands of the other team. When I said Special Teams, I should've said "Our Return Game/Kicking Game". I was looking for ways in which the team played better than normal in certain aspects of the game, and couldn't ignore the fact that both Antoine Cason and Darren Sproles looked dangerous on returns and Kaeding had a good game of kicking FGs.