After an embarrassing loss at the hands of the Carolina Panthers this past weekend, the San Diego Chargers find themselves at 5-8 on the season and even further behind in the AFC playoff race. While not yet officially eliminated from playoff contention, it seems pretty fair to say that the bolts season is over. As previously mentioned, the Chargers are currently the owners of a 5-8 record and are set to take up a permanent residence in the AFC West basement. Well, at least for the rest of this season, that is.
Even coming off a 4-12 season, a lot of fans (myself included) had high hopes that the team could make a quick turnaround and at least compete for the division title or a wildcard slot. Needless to say, that has not been the case. So, what exactly happened to the San Diego Chargers 2016 season? What went wrong? Let us take a look back on the past few months to determine what derailed the bolt train this season. And we’ll start with the two most obvious talking point since we all know it’s going to be on this list.
Another injury plagued season
It’s hard to win in the NFL. It’s even harder to win when you can’t field the same team from one week to the next. As of right now, the Chargers have placed 19 players on Injured reserve. That’s insane. Let’s have a look at some of the names on that list. Keenan Allen, Jason Verrett, Danny Woodhead, Brandon Mebane, Brandon Flowers, and the list goes on. These aren’t just depth players, folks. Many of the names on the list are key players whom the Chargers were counting on for the team to have success this season.
Note, I am not trying to use this as an excuse for the team’s poor performance this season. Teams lose star players, that happens all the time. Great teams can overcome some tough luck on the injury front. The Chargers were not a great team coming into the season, and in the end, they weren’t strong enough to make up for the talent they lost.
Coaching woes continue
I, as well as my fellow BFTB writers, have already voiced enough displeasure with the coaching style that currently runs the teams. I think enough has been said about each of the coaches, and so I’m just going to keep this very general. Winning has as much to do with coaching as it does with the players, and the Chargers are consistently out coached by their opponents. The team is constantly in bad positions because of poor decision making on the sideline, and when you have a team as beat up as the Chargers are, they aren’t going to be able to make up for that with talent. Four seasons is enough to see that things aren’t going to get any better in this department. The bolts sideline is holding them back, and it’s not going to be any different until changes are made.
Unfortunate circumstance of playing in the NFL’s best division
I guess you can make the argument that the NFC East might be tougher, but I’m saying the AFC West is best. The Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) and Oakland Raiders (10-3) both have double digit wins and the Denver Broncos currently sit at 8-5 still boasting one of the league’s top defenses. These teams account for 6 out of the Chargers 16 games. I don’t think it’s unfair to assume the Chargers would probably perform a little better in another division. But they don’t play in another division, and they just were not ready to handle the level of competition that their divisional counterparts offer. The Chargers will improve, and the AFC West will have some battles down the road. But this season the bolts were just outmatched out west no matter where they looked.