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Bolts & Dolts: The San Diego Chargers are a Mess

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The San Diego Chargers have actual fundamental problems on both sides of the ball that are not going away any time soon. This could end up being a very long season.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Bolts

John Phillips - 4 catches (4 targets), 35 rec yds

You thought there weren't going to be any Bolts today, didn't you? Well, remember that Bolts go to players who performed above expectations. I didn't expect much of anything from John Phillips, and I thought he performed well when called on. In fact, I kind of wish Philip Rivers had thrown to him more often.

Keenan Allen - 12 catches (18 targets), 133 rec yds, 2 rec TDs

18 targets?!? 18 targets! Nobody else had more than 7 (Malcom Floyd). Think the San Diego Chargers offense got a little one-dimensional without an offensive line or a Tight End that Rivers trusted out there?

Still, I didn't expect 100+ yards and 2 TDs from Allen in this game. Especially not when Kellen Clemens was playing for most of the fourth quarter.

Dolts

Offense

I was going to just put "everyone else", but let's at least split it up on the different sides of the ball.

Want to know what makes an elite QB? It's the ability to make plays and avoid mistakes when the team isn't supporting you in any way. Aaron Rodgers could probably win a game with a Pop Warner team. Tom Brady might actually be playing with a Pop Warner team. Peyton Manning rarely lost a game in Indianapolis despite being the only great player they had on offense most weeks.

Philip Rivers is not elite. He needs an offensive line to help him. He needs Antonio Gates to bail him out. He needs his receivers to get open because he's not always great at throwing them open.

This year, the offense has essentially given him none of those things. He hasn't even gotten half-way decent run blocking to try and balance the offense or open up the play action pass.

So, what are we left with? In just over 11 quarters, and just shy of 3 games, Rivers has been sacked 11 times and has turned the ball over 6 times (4 INTs, 2 fumbles lost).

Rivers might be as accurate as he's ever been as a passer, but he's still 18th in the league in QBR (sandwiched between Jay Cutler and Ryan Fitzpatrick) because he can't do it on his own. Two turnovers a game does not a good QB make.

I'd love to say that Antonio Gates can come in and fix these problems, but what it really boils down to is philosophy and personnel. I said during Training Camp that I didn't think the Chargers practiced run-blocking enough, and I believe I was right about that. Their run blocking is pathetic. When you ask a team to rely on pass blocking every down (either with draw plays or pass plays), you're asking 350 lb men to get pushed backwards 60+ times a game and try not to fall on each other. It's no wonder why none of these guys can stay healthy.

There was not a single redeeming thing about the offense yesterday, as a whole, and I can only hope that they can figure out how to shift their philosophy before Rivers ends up seriously injuring his back once again (if he hasn't already).

Defense

Pathetic, but what did we expect?

Manti Te'o still can't tackle, Donald Butler still runs himself out of plays, Melvin Ingram is a non-factor when it's not an obvious passing down, and the defensive line is Corey Liuget and nobody.

The San Diego Chargers have far and away the worst run defense in the league and it's not close. Now, add to that injuries to starting CBs Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett (not to mention Craig Mager), and starting SS Jahleel Addae, and you're screwed.

The Chargers, who already couldn't stop the run, were facing one of the best running backs of all time with fresh legs. They weren't going to stop him.

The Chargers, who already had to overcommit to slow down Adrian Peterson, had to rely on Patrick Robinson, Steve Williams, and ????? to try and cover the Vikings' WRs down the field without any help from the Safeties.

The only possible thing that could've saved the Chargers in this game? A dominant pass rush. Yet again we're three weeks into the season and wondering where the sacks are. San Diego has allowed 11 sacks and have gotten only 1 of their own on defense.

This is a basic math problem. The Chargers can't protect Rivers, which means he's going to turn the ball over twice per game. They also can't get to opposing QBs, and they can't stop the run, which means opposing offenses are going to move the ball with ease and will be able to avoid the type of forced plays that result in turnovers.

Similar to the Norv Turner era, Mike McCoy's Chargers do not do a good job of winning the turnover battle. In fact, they're 0-3 in the turnover battle so far this season. If they can't find a way to turn that around, and it would be a near miracle if they did at this point, it'll be tough to get to 8 wins this season.