The lingering question around the San Diego Chargers is whether or not the team is destined to fail.
Now that’s not to say the Bolts themselves don’t have any choice in the matter, but the fact is that up until their Week 2 triumph against the Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego had lost 11 of its last 12 contests decided by seven points or less according to SI. That’s a staggering statistical roadblock to try and over come, but the breakthrough in Philly had many believing the winning ways were back again.
Unfortunately the Chargers couldn’t even sustain that feeling for more than a week as they blew a seven-point cushion in the final quarter this past week to the Tennessee Titans to ultimately fall by a field goal margin. The glass half-empty folks (like me) saw this as the same old Bolts coming back again, but what if it’s something more?
Many believed that former head coach Norv Turner was the reason for all of the late-game collapses in seasons past, but with Mike McCoy now in charge that excuse goes out the window. The fact that the team has been close enough to blow to leads in the closing quarter of its three games this season could be seen as an encouraging sign, but the fact remains that 60 minutes must be played to determine a winner. Whether or not that fact has sunken in for this group is yet to be determined.
An overhauled coaching staff and front office certainly don’t think the problem is attributable to an inherent issue with the team itself, but what is the reason for the Chargers’ late-game woes? General manager Tom Telesco is still trying to figure that out as he told SI:
“If someone had the answer to that they’d make a lot of money. It comes down to execution in critical times, and execution is physical and mental. I don’t think it’s cultural.”
So I suppose the next logical question would be whether or not the players on the field are capable of executing at critical junctures both mentally and physically. One of the main constants throughout these struggles has been quarterback Philip Rivers, and it’s his late-game mistakes that have caused many of the difficult to swallow losses over the past few seasons. In fact, it was Rivers’ pick-six that cost the Chargers their season opener against the Houston Texans after holding a three touchdown lead in the fourth quarter.
Picking on the team leader would be a disservice to the Bolts as a whole, however, as Rivers has been very willing to own up to his miscues. He hasn’t lost the faith, and the quarterback thinks there is an easy solution to these late-game gaffes as he said:
“It’s important for us to continue to trust and believe in what we’re doing. We’re doing a lot of good. No, we’re not satisfied with how we’ve lost. But keep believing and keep trusting and we’re going to get it going.”
Belief is certainly an important factor. This team can’t get discourage by the perpetual struggles and allow them to become something that festers. If the Chargers want to get over the stigma of being the team that chokes, the only way to do so is with the age old cliché of ‘one game at a time.’