Oh boy. Where to begin? I'm very tempted to make "Greg Manusky" bad thing number 1 on this list, but he needs to be more spread out than that. Let's start at the beginning.
First Half Offense
I put a question out on Twitter in the middle of the game yesterday, which said "When was the last time the Chargers had more than 7 points at half time against a good team?" Nobody responded. The answer, as it usually is with questions like that, is "The last time the Chargers played the Colts".
In all seriousness, the first-half Chargers could be mistaken for the Seattle Seahawks at times. The second-half Chargers could be mistaken for the Patriots, or the Colts with Peyton Manning, or the New Orleans Saints. It's been this way for years. This problem is on both sides of the ball, but it's much more concerning that the offense (with the brilliant mind of Norv Turner and the unmatched talent Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson and more) can not seem to score any points or do anything effectively until the second half of games when they're already down by 10.
I actually liked the call by Norv to go for it on 4th & goal from the Patriots 1 yard line. It showed his team that he believed in them (both offensively and defensively) and let them know that this wasn't your normal Week 2 game. It was important. What I hated, and it took away any of the previous good vibes, was lining 8 guys up on the line and 3 guys in the backfield. I don't often go into caps on this blog, so excuse me for a second...
YOU HAVE PHILIP RIVERS AS YOUR QUARTERBACK. ANTONIO GATES IS THE BEST RED ZONE WEAPON OF ALL TIME. VINCENT JACKSON IS UNSTOPPABLE. ALL OF YOUR RUNNING BACKS CAN CATCH THE BALL. Wouldn't it have made sense to at least pretend that pass was an option there? Just so that the Patriots didn't take all 11 guys and send them right at Mike Tolbert? Heck, if I'm Belichick in that situation, I'd be celebrating before the ball was snapped.
The Human Dancing Machine. Here's my current stance on Mike Tolbert: Whenever he has a game that makes me say "Wow, he could be a starting RB on any team in this league!", it's almost immediately followed by a poor game. It's great that the Chargers have him, but I think he works better as a changeup to Ryan Mathews than the other way around.
Ollie WIlson and Norv Turner have been saying that this is a situation where each back will see his touches, but the RB that's hot will get fed more. I thought they meant whichever back was having the better game, not whichever back had a better game last week.
If you want to see the type of game a RB actually had, take away his longest run. Without Mathews' longest run, he finishes with 11 carries for 50 yards and a TD. Without Tolbert's longest run, he finishes with 8 carries for 3 yards and a fumble. A really poor, no-excuses, badly-timed fumble. Maybe get better at riding the hot hand, coaches.
Bob Sanders and Eric Weddle
What was I worried about? The Chargers' small Safeties trying to cover the Patriots' big TEs. What happened? The Chargers' small Safeties tried to cover the Patriots' big TEs. Here's how that went:
Aaron Hernandez: 7 rec, 62 yards, 1 TD
Rob Gronkowski: 4 rec, 86 yards, 2 TD
After the first TD, I said out-loud "Probably time to bench Bob." NOPE. Greg Manusky had a better plan. Let's start playing zone coverage instead, and that way the LBs and CBs can help the Safeties in covering these TEs. Then, because we all know Tom Brady is super inaccurate when you give him time to throw against a zone, we'll rush just three guys. It's brilliant!
Deion Branch: 8 rec, 129 yards
Wes Welker: 7 rec, 81 yards
Chad Ochocinco: 2 rec, 45 yards
If someone could add Manusky's glasses and visor to this, I'd appreciate it.
I can't wait for the game-charting stats to come out for this game. I think Takeo Spikes broke a record for missed tackles. I'm almost positive that I saw Tom Brady smiling every time he saw Donald Butler drop back in coverage. Shaun Phillips, to his credit, was running around the field on one-bad leg and being asked to do things like cover WRs...and still had a pretty good game.
I want to do something, but I don't want it to get lost in the shuffle and then nobody understands later like the CBD thing, so....
LOOK RIGHT HERE. IT'S IMPORTANT INFORMATION. RIGHT BELOW HERE. LOOK!
From now on, I will only refer to Travis LaBoy as Derek Smith. I don't care that one is supposedly an OLB and the other was supposedly an ILB. Travis LaBoy is Derek Smith. Got it? Good.
Also, Greg Manusky should be fired for having Larry English cover a WR in man coverage. I don't care if it was one play, and I don't care that the WR wasn't thrown to on that play. That's grounds for firing.*
*Not really. Please don't fire Greg Manusky.
Suddenly, the 2011 Chargers look an awful lot like the 2010 Chargers with new kickoff rules. After making two brilliant catches, Malcom Floyd predictably ended up injured. Patrick Crayton's ankle doesn't seem to be getting any better (he was inactive). Seyi Ajirotutu is in Carolina. This means that, for a second consecutive year, Richard Goodman had to play a major role in the passing game against the Patriots. Look, I like Goodman and think he could really be something one day. Today is not that day, not as a WR anyway.
Luis Castillo is already missed, despite the d-line playing pretty well. Shaun Phillips missed him the most. Antonio Garay missed a few snaps, but luckily isn't injured long-term. Derek Smith was injured, which seemed like the only way Antwan Barnes was going to get on the field, but unfortunately came back in the game. Antonio Gates was either drugged during warmups or his foot is seriously screwed up.
Bob Sanders and Ryan Mathews are somehow completely healthy. Football is funny that way. You know what's not funny? The Bolts being this unhealthy in Week 2. There comes a time in every successful team's schedule where they lose key players and need their backups to step up. The Packers won the Super Bowl last year without their starting TE or RB because other guys stepped up. The Chargers will need that kind of......I suppose 'luck' is the word I'm looking for.
I realize this is a sixth bad thing. I'll make it short. Cut Bryan Walters. Break his kneecap. Do something so that he can't go near a field when a Chargers opponent is punting ever again. Please. I take back almost all the bad things I said about Darren Sproles' ability to return punts. At least he kinda knew how and when to fair catch. Bryan Walters is breaking the mold, showing himself to be an Ivy League-educated player that makes really dumb decision during the game.
I know he hasn't fumbled yet. The Chargers have been really, really lucky that he hasn't fumbled yet. He will. Let's stop playing with fire, please.