And the chains they crash like thunder
While the weak ones all retreat
Gotta draw first blood
Or they'll read your funeral rights
When the lightning strikes
I'm still superstitious enough to go with the Aerosmith for the second week in a row. You probably saw my B/R article already on my continued fears about Rivers. Incidentally, those of you that worried about and for me when I began writing pieces over there will want to read this article on Bleacher Report. All I'll say, is that I still feel like it's been a good arrangement.
As I mentioned in the aforementioned piece, I know that tomorrow night's game is inconsequential compared to the Denver game the following week. But for my confidence in this team, it's a huge deal. Let's be honest, no one thinks that they can win tomorrow. Between the Saints being "due" at 0-4 and Brees having a big game the previous week, the stage seems set for them to get their first victory.
Factor in the face that the NFL is letting Payton attend the game to watch Brees break Johnny U's record and you've got everyone pulling for New Orleans. Brees and Payton built a system that utilizes Drew's strengths better than anything Brian Schottenheimer could cook up. I'm sure you remember, FAITHFUL READER, that Brees played in a spread offense at Purdue.
I mentioned in the Bleacher Report article that I would gladly trade a Super Bowl ring for the stigma and punishments that accompany a bounty program. But I don't have a lot of sympathy for the idea of the Saints being unfairly targeted. You got to the Super Bowl by beating the living shit out of Kurt Warner and Brett Favre. It seems like there's pretty substantial evidence to support the NFL's claims. Stop whining about it. They let you keep the Trophy.
I'm sure the Chargers have already gotten the sense that no one expects them to win. The spread might be three points, but I don't think anyone really thinks the Bolts can come up big in a big game. Why would they? There was a lot NOT to like about last week. The last time they had that many turnovers, they lost on a last second field goal in 2008, so I guess I should be happy that they won the game at all.
But they are far from playing like a complete team. Do they have the pieces to become one? AJ seems to have brought in some good pieces to accompany the guys he's drafted and signed previously. Butler is finally showing the burst that he had at Washington. Gaither's appearance made things a lot more comfortable for Rivers.
The secondary is obviously a concern going into the game. Maybe Norv knew that Cason would be such a pain in the ass when he was drafted. He looked even more vacant than usual. Hank Bauer is constantly begging Cason to "hug up" on the receivers. He's right to say that the corners need to at least attempt to be great. Cason is so concerned with his man blowing by him, that he allowed that very thing to happen last week.
If Cassel hadn't overthrown a wide open receiver and the Queefs had cut the lead to seven, who knows how the game would have turned out?
I don't have a problem with Norv listing Battle as the starter on the depth chart once again? I'm always screaming that he never does stuff that a real coach would do, so I can't knock this move. AJ made his comments, and they were said for all the right reasons. Mathews was costing us games. Antonio Gates spoke with Marty Caswell after the game and it seemed like Gates understood the need for a "message" sent. Acee actually said the same thing to Darren Smith. I won't say that Norv is a "hard ass coach," but I applaud the move.
Mathews ended up with more yards than Battle and arguably had more meaningful carries. As he himself said, he was fresher when he came in. Obviously, he has to be integrated more and more into the offense. He can't stay in this role forever. But I think the Chargers are making the transition into making him the featured back he was drafted to be.
But tomorrow night will all come down to Rivers. But that may be dependent on what Rivers DOESN'T do more than what he does. It would be great if Meachem was more involved, but Rivers simply cannot make the throws that he has over the last three games. I'm sure he really wanted to sling the ball more in Oakland, but I was very grateful he didn't. A win tomorrow won't erase all my doubts about Rivers, but I am very concerned right now.
He wasn't nearly as rushed last week and he still made some very questionable decisions. He could have been picked off in the end zone. He didn't run for a first down near the goal line. He threw the ball backwards and it seemed like only Mathews knew that it was live and could be recovered. His interception caused many people to question the acquisition of Robert Meachem, but it was still a horrible decision and execution. You can't throw that pass in the red zone, especially after last year. XX1090 also had an interview with Jim Trotter which talks about Rivers' need to prove himself. However, I don't think it's the absence of Vincent Jackson that matters. The bad habits that Rivers has developed since he was knocked down (literally and figuratively) by the Jets in the playoffs were obscured by Jackson's play.
And then there's Tweety. I certianly don't share Acee's sentiment in the aforementioned radio spot that Kaeding has fought his way back. He's still a choker and should never be given the chance to ruin a playoff game again. Of course, Novak missed his shared down the stretch last year after a hot start. So while I don't wish Kaeding ill, I can't say that I am hoping he can avoid IR since that is the only way that we can keep him off the field. When Acee says "some in the organization" favor Novak, I wonder who he is speaking about specifically; People with eyeballs?
I think tomorrow is a huge "nut up or shut up" game. I recognize how important the Denver game is in the standings, but I would like to see the Chargers win both. I think more people expect them to beat Peyton Manning again in San Diego than Brees and the 0-4 Saints tomorrow. The Bolts' inability to step up in these spots has been even more evident on the road. Each season is a story that unfolds every week and hopefully in a positive way. We all know that the Chargers got to 4-1 and came out of the bye only to blow it against the team that has ended their season twice. But this game isn't against some cream puff. A win tomorrow night in the Big Easy would be a big step for the Bolts.
If you can't protect the dream, at least don't shit all over it again.
I'm sure no one is surprised about the result. This was a very winnable game. This is the kind of loss that comes back to haunt a team late in the season, when you're in a tight race and you think it sure would be nice to have not let that game get away. And Rivers with his "we can learn from this" bullshit. Hey Philip, it's not like it hasn't happened before. Aren't you supposed to have learned by now? That's just the thing - Norv's teams never learn their lessons. I'll refrain from making any predictions about the Bronco game since usually I wind up looking like an idiot. But my faith is ever waning.
@sdjeff No excuses indeed. Calls were bad, Bolts were worse. Here's Acee's column about how they look shell shocked every time they are backed up.
Acee: Chargers need to find that ending feeling again By Kevin Acee Monday, October 8, 2012 Overcome with nostalgia for the days when Philip Rivers was made of steel and the offensive line was made up of proven veterans, I gave young UT Chargers beat writer Michael Gehlken a lesson in ancient history on Monday afternoon. Fortunately for us, there exist recordings of the 2009 season. I showed the eager young man what a fourth-quarter scoring drive looked like. His eyes grew wide as we watched Rivers stand confidently in the pocket, directing two-minute drills orchestrated by Norv Turner. Passes were completed to heroes of old with names like Jackson and Sproles, as well as those that live on, Gates and Floyd. Yes, Michael, it can happen. Turner remembers. He, in fact, keeps talking as if those days still exist, expressing confidence in his team if the game is close in the fourth quarter. I mean, that’s part of his job. But I don’t see the veracity in his optimism. Turner said in his postgame press conference Sunday night that the Chargers will be an “outstanding” team. He said it emphatically. He also went around the locker room repeating that assurance to players. And maybe they will be. There were signs in New Orleans that the Chargers can be a contender -- right up until the Saints scored 17 unanswered points and the Chargers’ final three possessions, in the fourth quarter, netted nothing. Ryan Mathews possesses all the talent that’s been advertised -- and maybe more. Hey, Robert Meachem can catch. I love John Pagano’s channeling of Wade Phillips, and I know his players do too. But it’s going to be difficult to be a team that matters if they can’t convert at the end of games. It seems like forever since the Chargers did so in a truly impressive manner, coming through when the game was in doubt with time running out. In NFL terms, it pretty much has been forever. Since the start of the 2010 season, the Chargers have won just two games in which they trailed in the fourth quarter. Both of those victories, one in 2010 and one in ’11, were ultimately earned by scoring with more than five minutes remaining. Four times in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons, the Chargers had a chance to win or tie with a game-ending drive. They lost all eight games. That they missed the playoffs by one game each of those seasons should make the importance of such finishes self-evident. So should their success in such games during Philip Rivers’ first four seasons. The 13 game-winning, fourth-quarter drives Rivers directed between 2006 and 2009 – playoff seasons, all -- tied Brett Favre for the most in NFL history through the first 70 starts of a career (regular and postseason). In ’09, Rivers directed four such drives, including two come-from-behind marches to touchdowns in the final minute and another drive to a tiebreaking field goal in the final few seconds. The Chargers were 8-1 in games decided by eight or fewer points in 2009, the last year they made the postseason. Since then, counting Sunday night’s 31-24 loss, the Chargers are 7-11. They were 3-5 each of the past two seasons. Folks, winning teams win close games. Playoff teams in 2010 and ’11 had a combined .656 winning percentage in one-score games. Non-playoff teams had a combined .408 winning percentage in those games. The Chargers’ .375 mark is worse even than the average non-playoff team. I don’t see the same Rivers in the decisive times. Of course, he doesn’t see the same protection or the same targets he enjoyed way back when. Turner says the offense, with its many new and revolving parts, is coming around. It better be coming so far as to make it all the way to the fourth quarter soon. We saw in 2009 what victories like that do for a team. It makes them believe they're never out of a game. Conversely, while they won’t ever admit it, falling short again and again at the end grows on itself too, making memories fade along with playoff chances.
According to Jim Trotter, Norv DID call a run on 2nd down on the goaline and Rivers checked out of it. That's one thing I guess I can blame on Rivers and not Norv.
Amazing how this team cannot overcome adversity. Ingram´s penalty yesterday, Mathews fumble vs. Atlanta. It just seems that it takes the Chargers completely out of the game when they make a mistake.
Philip did not come through again in the clutch, albeit very questionable calls at the end of the game by the refs. And what about Norv forgetting about the run? It seemed they could never stop Mathews and the Chargers just forgot about him, I was all forth him being benched for fumbling, but this was just stupid.
Is it time we all get back to earth and admit we have the same team this year as the past two? I certainly hope not.
@DIF so far, this IS a carbon copy of last season. Fumbles and picks (Ne 2011, ATL 2012) then a chance for a big road win against a team that probably isnt that good but is to the Chargers (NYJ & NO). A pivotal pick deflection (although last night wasn't in the red zone and Floyd was probably held). Now a chance to win a divisional tilt. If there's a difference it, needs to show up next week. Rivers wasn't to blame but yes he still doesn't a comeback in forever. Mathews should have gotten the ball on 3rd and 2 so we didn't need to kick a 55 yarder. Also, how can you not run on the goaline? You saw in the 3rd what he could do.
It was as if Ingrams hit all at once woke up the Saints and put the Chargers to sleep. I hate to say it but this Chargers team has the talent but not the attitude to over come adversity.
Hopefully the offensive line will protect Rivers. Do that and maybe just maybe Rivers can beat Brees.