Review: The San Diego Chargers

This will prove to be another of those reviews that might not be of much use to you if you’re not from San Diego, or don’t care about football. But, then again, any review is contingent upon your interest, so cease your whining. It’s also a bit poorly timed, since the Chargers just beat the hell out of Kansas City.

The Chargers have proven to be a real roller-coaster ride for San Diego. The team has a great roster, with a pretty broad pool of talent. Short of Phillip Rivers having a bit too much of a mouth on him, there aren’t many issues with volatile personalities. The fans are supportive. Things should be pretty rosy for the Chargers.

Year after year, though, the season ends in disappointment and the team doesn’t live up to its potential. If you want to be strict about it, this is true of all but one team: the Superbowl champ. What I mean to say is that the Chargers are better, year after year, than their record states, and I think this issue has to come down to coaching.

I am not a football guru, by a long shot. I don’t study the game or the teams or memorize stats and player positions. I do, however, understand how the game is played and the strategies involved in winning and game after game I come away frustrated with the way things are being done out on the field for the Chargers.

Much has been discussed regarding LaDanian Tomlinson. The man is already a legendary runningback, but he’s seen a real downturn in the last two seasons. He’s suffered some injuries and appears to have hit the Age 30 wall for runningbacks. He asserts, of course, that’s he’s still got it, but his stats just don’t support this claim. After 2006, all his numbers have been declining. Watching the games gives a better view of the situation, though. On any other team, a star runningback like Tomlinson would be getting frequent carries. On the Chargers, he gets fewer all the time, which of course reinforces the notion that he’s lost the magic.

In 2006, LT averaged nearly 22 carries a game. In 2007, that was down to 19.5. In 2008, down to 18. So far in 2009, he’s on track with about 12.5 carries a game. So, looking at his numbers, a decline in performance seems to match up cleanly with the decline in his usage. His yards-per-carry have dipped, but isn’t it to be expected that opposing teams will be gunning to lock down the LT run? And then of course is the Charger’s offensive line, which has been both plagued by injuries this season and woefully underperforming.

LT is never allowed to reach a rhythm in-game because Norv Turner can’t seem to find a tactic and stick to it. The team is coached in such a fashion that it seems his intent is to constantly rotate the weapons used on the field. Great for variety, bad for momentum. LT will get a play, maybe two, start to get warmed up and then not see action for another couple of drives. Same for Sproles. The only consistent go-to player for the team is Antonio Gates, for good reason. [As an update, in the last game LT was given 23 carries, more than 33% of this season’s total carries in a single game – so perhaps my complaints here will be no longer valid.]

I’d like to see the team show some focus on each of its drives. Concentrate on giving a player time to find their groove and get a feel for the defense. And consider rocking some no-huddle, 2-minute-drill style play in the middle of the game. Rivers is an excellent fast release QB. The Chargers are superb in the 2-minute-drill and march up a field with surprising speed and accuracy. Why not break this out to shake up the rhythm on the field? Keep a defense guessing. It’s a morale breaker for opponents and boost for your squad.

Which brings me to my last point. Norv needs to start showing some emotion on the field. He doesn’t need to be apoplectic with rage, but I need to see him look something other than bemused when something bad happens on the field. It’s not comforting to a fan, I doubt it says anything good to a player. The team just hasn’t seemed fired up enough this season—and neither has its coach.

  1. #1 by Badmoodman on October 28, 2009 - 7:37 AM

    “It’s also a bit poorly timed, since the Chargers just beat the hell out of Kansas City.”

    – – Yeah, that was a job well done, if you count waxing a sarcophagus as real work.

  2. #2 by Michael Howard on October 28, 2009 - 9:04 AM

    Interestingly enough, the Chargers may not be San Diego’s problem much longer. Although the Jaguars are the favorite to move to L.A. the Chargers are the more likely scenario.

    3 reasons I say this:

    1. L.A. is going to want its own ownership. They are not going to want owners who have, for lack of a better term, failed. Wayne Weaver (the Owner of the Jags) has already said he refuses to sell the team which effectively removes them from contention.

    2. The Charger organization wants a new stadium, and thanks to the Giants, we will NEVER see a stadium built on taxpayer dollars again. San Diego cannot raise the capitol to accommodate their desire.

    3. Moving to the team to L.A. would allow the Chargers to keep a larger portion of their fan base (Read: Raiders).

(will not be published)