I rarely let emotion get in the way of anything. Whether it's watching draft guys or watching my favorite team, I try to be as objective as possible. I have no problem saying one week Jason Verrett played at a high level then the next week saying he struggled. That's just how the game is. Football is fluid. I'm tired of it, though.
Fuck man Rivers deserves so much better than this— KP (@The_KP_Show) November 10, 2015
Though this entire piece might come off as a "prisoner of the moment" by using last nights examples let's just go back 2 years. It's 2013 and Philip Rivers is coming off, arguably, the best season of his career. He has a chance to peak in his prime years. You replace a mastermind like Ken Whisenhunt with an offensive coordinator who has never called plays before and expect the same sort of production? Come on now. Even factoring in all the injuries, there's still more talent now than when Whiz was here. It's painfully obvious that Frank Reich, first and foremost, hasn't evolved as a play-caller. I know there are plenty of you who don't believe in momentum, but let's use the 1st possession of the 2nd half from last night.
The Chargers have a chance to make a statement coming out of the half after putting 3 points on the board to end the 2nd quarter. Screen left to Melvin Gordon. Gain of 3. Run left to Gordon, gain of 0. Pass right to Stevie Johnson, incomplete. This has been a theme all too often for the offense. Run, run, pass, punt. Force feeding Gordon has slowed down this offense every time they've gone out of their way in an attempt to manufacture touches for him.
Were those plays Gordon's fault? No, not at all. Asking D.J. Fluker to come across the formation and execute a block in space on a linebacker in order for a play to be successful is a coach not knowing his personnel. Expecting David Johnson, who just isn't very good, to be an aggressive lead blocker coming across the formation is not knowing the limitations of your players. Back to Rivers. Why instead of featuring Gordon are you not putting the ball in your best player's hands? The team just isn't good enough to be wasting drives trying to "get guys going" or have a "build some confidence for Gordon" type drive. I've never seen a team go away from something that works as quickly as this team. This past month has been so frustrating to watch because it comes off as if Reich doesn't value drives. Rivers doesn't deserve this. They only had 9 drives last night. Which brings me to my next point.
Math is Hard
For Mike McCoy, it really is. It's the 4th quarter and there's 7:53 seconds left. 4th and goal from the 4 yard line. The score is 16-14, Chargers. Though the Bears only had 14 points at the time, 6 of their 8 drives had ended up in San Diego territory. Whether it was missed field goals, dropped passes, or penalties, the Bears stopped the Bears. Not the Chargers. This is should've been a no-brainer to go for it because, up to that point, nothing had suggested that the Bears wouldn't drive the field again and score. Let's say the Chargers fail to convert on 4th down. Now Chicago has to go 96 yards and are more than likely to play for the FG which, in turn, when you get the ball back allows you to do the same. So 17-16 if they drive the length of the field and now you more than likely have a shot to win the game with a field goal instead of having to waste downs by throwing the ball downfield because you know you have to pick up big chunks of yardage.
I understand many will disagree with that train of thought but McCoy has shown he does not think ahead. The probabilities of Rivers not picking up four yards and the Bears driving 96 yards are pretty low. The fact that you're a 2-win team should've made the decision to put the ball in your best players hands even easier. Again, we see this week in and week out. McCoy isn't maximizing his possessions. Punting in opponents territory on 4th and 5 is embarrassing. Kicking a field goal on 4th and 2 or less isn't the smart play. Your defense has consistently shown that 25 points is not enough to win yet every week we are discussing the same situation when it comes to going for it on fourth down. Listening to announcers say it. Seeing teams with Blaine Gabbert or Nick Foles go for it on 4th and short then convert makes me hate this sport. Listening to announcers say it's gutsy to go for it on 4th and 1 every single weekend but thinking the probability of a 50 yard field goal is higher than gaining 1 yard is mind boggling. Point stands, McCoy has allowed the same mistakes to happen as a head coach and the team has gotten progressively worse as his tenure has gone on. Rivers doesn't deserve this.
Adjusting on the fly
The amount of points allowed last night was a season low for the Chargers. What makes that number, 22, embarrassing is knowing the amount of times the Bears shot themselves in the foot. I'm not sure if it's ignorance or arrogance on John Pagano's part but he has a thing for letting the other team's best player beat them. You know what good coordinators do? They make the number 3 and 4 options beat them. Last night before Verrett was hurt, Jay Cutler made it clear he was going to target Alshon Jeffery early and often. So when Verrett went down, it was clear they were going to feed Jeffery even more. No adjustment was made. Jeffery finished with 16 targets and he wasn't double teamed on any of them. It was up to Stevie Williams to stop him 1-on-1. No safety help. That's a coaching blunder. You know there were no adjustments being made when Jay freaking Cutler was 9-12 on 3rd down throws and 8 of them going for 1st downs.
Not even going to get into why Ryan Carrethers didn't see the field, but again, this game is the epitome of the Chargers season. It's the same story every week. The best player on the other team beats San Diego. Even when they do sniff out the correct play, they don't make the tackle. Players don't give great effort. Players aren't disciplined. No one is held accountable. Rinse. Wash. Repeat. Rivers doesn't deserve this.
Tommy's time up?
I get asked quite a bit why doesn't Telesco get any of the blame. I don't think you can blame him at all for how he addressed the offensive line this last offseason. There's no way you can expect Orlando Franklin, who played at an extremely high level a year ago, to play as poorly as he has this year or even miss injuries. He signed a quality backup tackle in Chris Hairston in the event that King Dunlap misses time. Everyone knows about this years 1st round pick but the 1 area were you have to question Telesco is his investment in the trenches on the defensive front.
Looking at the top-5 defenses per DVOA, which are the Broncos, Panthers, Eagles, Rams and Jets, the teams have combined to invest in 22 defensive lineman in the past 3 drafts. So each team is averaging about 2 defensive lineman per draft. Not San Diego. The Chargers have taken 2 defensive lineman period in the draft since Telesco has been GM. I know he helped build peak Peyton Manning's Colts but this team doesn't have E. James, Harvin Marrison, Reggie Wayne and all the other 1-year wonders Manning made. Expecting Ricardo Mathews to be a difference maker up front and investing on 2nd level linebackers instead of building depth up front has been Telesco's biggest downfall to date.
I feel sorry for Corey Liuget out there because we have never been able to see the type of talent he has. Teams can just send help his way, block everyone else 1-on-1 and move the ball. That's what has been happening. I'll never ever get why he chose to invest in off-ball linebackers like he has. The league isn't headed that direction. It's can you get after the passer and can you cover these athletes on the perimeter. For the 3rd consecutive year the team will field a bottom 3 defense and limit it's offense's production.
Rivers doesn't deserve this. He already plays the hardest position in sports but now there's this added pressure that if he doesn't score 4 touchdowns he probably hasn't done enough for his team to win. Can you imagine that? Imagine completing 43 of your passes, converting 50% of your 3rd downs, throwing for 503 yards and knowing that's not enough to win. What a disgusting feeling to live with.
Throwing Salt in the wound
There were so many bad takes last night on the interwebz about how Rivers can't get it done or how he's quit or how Jay Cutler is better, etc etc. It's the worst. Then you turn on the TV and see post game shows making fun of him for caring. What?!?!?! A player who just gave it his everything is emotional because he came up short. That's sports. That's normal. This guy is out there throwing the ball to practice squad players, being protected by practice squad lineman, fighting for his life and still putting the ball on the money. Doing all of this without any sort of run game. Remember the Verrett interception? Rivers was racing down the sideline like only Rivers can. He's still jawing on the sidelines. I'd be more concerned if Rivers was sulking and just going through the motions. That's not him. That's not my QB. Deep down, he knows what this season is. It's a lost cause. He doesn't deserve the pieces around him but doggummit is he going to play his ass off the rest of the season. I just hope this is the last year he's put in a position to have to carry a team for a full season. He shouldn't have to play every game knowing that if he's not flawless, the team isn't going to win. Rivers is a great QB. A top tier QB. That's just not fair to ask of him. Rivers doesn't deserve this.