Now that football season is officially here, it is time to reflect on our home team and analyze them in order to determine if they are pretenders or contenders this year. I know it’s only week one, but yet there are some concerns about the team.
Lets face it, this 2016 Chargers football season is going to be vital for the future of the team in San Diego. The November vote is huge and it is up to the citizens to decide whether or not a new football stadium is an option for the city. Choose wisely San Diego and educate yourself on the issue. The potential stadium is for the future of the city.
The Chargers are fresh off a 4-12 season last year in which anything that could go bad…. did. Well perhaps not everything, as all-pro QB Philip Rivers managed to keep his consecutive game streak in tact and had a very productive season despite his offensive line falling apart right in front of his very eyes.
Injuries were a huge factor as four out of the five starters on the line went down with injuries and missed multiple games. Only Joe Barksdale was able to play the entire year and he was considered the fifth best lineman to begin the 2015 season. Having Chris Watt, King Dunlap, D.J. Fluker and Orlando Franklin go down was decimating and the injuries did not stop there. Keenan Allen, Eric Weddle, Malcom Floyd, Manti Te’o, Steven “Stevie” Johnson, Branden Oliver and Melvin Gordon among others all went down with injuries. Sure the game of football is brutal and injuries are part of the game, but the Chargers had an uphill battle off the field as well.
The rumored move to Los Angeles had to weigh heavily on the team. In fact the team advertised and played in its so-called last game in San Diego against the Dolphins last December. There still is no clear answer to where this team will play in the future. One has to wonder how much that drama will affect the team and their chemistry now. Especially if they have to face adversity early on in the season.
Well that is exactly what the team will have to endure as Keenan Allen is lost for the year with a knee injury. The team already lost Steven Johnson in the preseason to a knee injury and now this. Losing Allen will be a tough blow for a team that has playoff aspirations. His presence in the locker room is huge for the team and he is also a great weapon for Philip Rivers to utilize.
Even worse than losing their star WR is the fact the team gave a way a division game against a team in which they have had trouble beating in recent seasons. The Chiefs were wounded and vulnerable with Jamaal Charles and Justin Houston both injured. The Chargers did well to capitalize early in the game, but in the end, the play calling and lack of urgency from the team killed all momentum they worked so hard to attain early on. The result was a demoralizing loss that opened wounds of 2015 and the failed expectations.
The are some very concerning things to take from this loss. These things can be fixed still but at the same time some are just a recurring theme:
Mike McCoy and the play calling
Most Chargers fans want the head of Mike McCoy after week one and they could be justified in demanding it. The Chargers lack of urgency in vital moments of the game are a continued theme. We saw this in 2015 and we have now seen it in week one. All three facets of the game had an opportunity to win the game on Sunday, and not one of them was able to step up. Very concerning is the fact the play calling went stale after the loss of Allen. His loss was huge, but the team should have just pounded the ball in the third quarter while protecting their big lead. Instead, they chose to put the ball up in the air and failed to milk any time off the clock in their failed second half drives. Is Ken Whisenhunt to blame? You would love to point the finger at the offensive coordinator but in reality all plays go through the coach in some aspect. If McCoy sensed the play calling was going stale, he should have stepped up. Its his neck on the line. This is only week one, but if the Chargers continue to lose close games, Mike McCoy will be axed. There will be no other alternative.
Jahleel Addae and the play from the safeties
Losing Eric Weddle was going to be tough, we all knew that. His organization of the defensive backfield was almost as important as his play on the field. He was truly a coach on the field and on Sunday numerous times the defense looked lost in the second half. In particular the safety play was suspect. Addae is a hitter and continues to punish receivers, but he continues to allow passes to be completed. You see, you cannot hit anyone until they actually have the ball. Unfortunately for the Chargers, Addae allows receivers to make catches routinely so that he can knock them around. Dwight Lowery is steady and unspectacular, but that is really not what the Chargers need from the position. It is only a matter of time before Dexter McCoil is playing every down. He is a special talent that has the hunger necessary to succeed in this sport. He gives it his all and his style of play will be contagious to the defense.
Where was Perryman? Te’o showed up but got burnt
First off, where was the young phenom Denzel Perryman on the day? Not that he wasn’t there physically, but if he wants to step up as the leader of this staff, he needs to take control of this defense. There is no way the defense should have allowed the Chiefs to drive on them continuously when the game was on the line. NBC Football Night in SD analyzed a play where Perryman struggled recognizing and being disciplined in his responsibilities covering a running back out of the backfield. Spencer Ware torched the Chargers with both running plays and receiving plays. He caught seven out of eight balls for 129 yards on the day. Manti Te’o was continually burnt by Ware and that looks to be another reoccurring issue with the middle linebacker. He needs to improve in that area or he will lose playing time to rookie linebacker Jatavis Brown who has the speed to cover running backs.
Drew Kaser struggles
I will give the rookie a pass on his first professional start, but he needs to pick up his game. His 17-yard punt with just under two minutes left in the game gave the Chiefs great field position to tie the game. That just can’t happen. In his defense he was the victim of a real bad bounce, but there were some concerns with the hang time on his punts and also positioning of them. Kaser still made some decent kicks as well, so the Chargers will just chalk up his bad kick as nerves. The young punter is a work in progress and of all the Chargers issues, this one is minimal at best.