Being the worst team in the NFL isn’t always about losing in a big way, but rather not winning when everything goes right. During the final game of Week 1, the Houston Texans put the game on a silver platter for the San Diego Chargers, only to see them snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Despite Houston playing arguably the worst 40 minutes of football of the weekend, they were able to overcome a 21 point deficit in the final 20 minutes, in what can only be described as a complete collapse by the home team. Statistically speaking, there were red flags all over the place for San Diego, hinting that the final third of this game showed the Bolts’ true colors.
Let’s start with Phillip Rivers and the Chargers’ offense. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes (14/29), and his lack of a top target proved evident (Antonio Gates led the team in receiving yards and he only had two catches). An amazing 28.6 percent of his completions resulted in six points, 3.5x his career rate entering this season. The run game was anemic, as Ryan Mathews managed only 33 yards on 13 carries. This offense is going to struggle to move the ball even if it has balance, but without it, San Diego isn’t going to sniff 28 points one more time this season.
On the defensive side, they allowed Matt Schaub to pile up 346 yards while completing 75.6 percent of his passes. If you can’t stop an offense that runs to set up the run (only one of three non-read option teams to record 500 plus rush attempts in 2012) from passing, who can you stop?
While all games are created equal, there is something to be said from the momentum, or lack thereof, that is gained in the early going, and with the new look of the Philadelphia Eagles next up on the schedule, the mental state of this team could tank before October. If you glance at their remaining schedule, there appear to be four winnable games, Oakland Raiders twice, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars, three of which are on the road. Terrelle Pryor has provided the Black Hole with some hope, and the Titans have a player in Chris Johnson, who is more capable of taking over a game than any single player on the Chargers. The title of “Worst Team in the NFL” could be decided early in the season when San Diego visits Jacksonville in Week 7, a game in which the Jags will have Justin Blackmon at their disposal. I’m not saying they go winless, but I’m having an awfully difficult time projecting more than a few wins for the Chargers this season.