The San Diego Chargers are one of the most maddening teams in the NFL. Every year they come into the season considered one of the most talented teams in football. And every year they end it labeled as underachievers.
Maybe the Chargers achieve exactly what their talent level allows them to. Maybe San Diego just isn’t that good.
The Chargers have missed the playoff the last two years. Before that they went 13-3 and won the AFC West in 2009. In the playoffs that season San Diego lost at home to the 9-7 New York Jets and their rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.
The Chargers have gone 20-19 since then. This season their record sits at 3-4 after seven games. After starting 3-1 they have lost three straight. One of the defeats was a 35-24 loss to the Denver Broncos at home in which San Diego blew a 24 point lead. Good teams do not do this.
When was the last time the Chargers won a meaningful game? They have not won a post season game since 2007. They have lost divisions titles to a 10-6 Kansas City Chiefs team in 2010 and an 8-8 Broncos team in 2011. Neither one of those teams was very good. If they were able to beat San Diego, then the Chargers must not be good either.
Every year, experts try to figure out what is wrong with San Diego? How can a team with an All-Pro quarterback in Phillip Rivers, an All-Pro tight end in Antonio Gates and a solid if not spectacular defense end up on the outside looking in almost every post season?
Most of the blame is placed on Rivers and head coach Norv Turner. Rivers has been under scrutiny since being acquired in a 2004 draft day trade with the New York Giants for quarterback Eli Manning. Turner had losing records in two other head coaching stints with the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders. Both are easy targets for criticism, Turner rightfully so.
The Chargers have played poorly on offense, defense and special teams. The offense has not been the same since running halfback LaDainian Tomlinson into the ground and losing him to the Jets in 2010. The defense was never great. San Diego has had one of the worst special teams units in football and it has cost them some games.
When a team finishes .500 it is not a good team. When a team loses close game after close game it is not a good team. When a team loses games that they have all but sewn up at home it is not a good team. The Chargers have done all of these things.
Maybe the problem is not Rivers. Maybe it is not Turner.
Maybe San Diego just isn’t that good.