If ever a football team could have a recurring theme throughout the narrative, regardless of what year it is, the San Diego Chargers would be tabbed with the inability to finish. Last year’s struggles reached a crescendo with back-to-back come-from-ahead losses of epic proportions, but this year’s difficulties have been more subtle and even more befuddling given the change in coaching staff. So what can the Bolts do to overcome these late-game woes?
The cause or actual reason for coming up on the short end in tight contests has yet to be discovered for these enigmatic Chargers. Some have pointed the finger at quarterback Philip Rivers for turnovers, but the reality is he hasn’t always coughed the ball up when crunch time arrives. Others have claimed that the team is soft and just can’t finish games, but it seemed like they dispelled those concerns through the first half of the year with their stout defensive play.
It’s almost as if something supernatural is in play here causing mind-numbing decisions and lack of execution on the most crucial of plays. While we all know try to peg your troubles in life on a third party (and an invisible one nonetheless) is never a way to solve problems, there really is no other explanation.
Why would head coach Mike McCoy go with three straight conservative play calls from the one-yard line on a first-and-goal with two timeouts in the bank and 21 seconds on the clock against the Washington Redskins on Sunday? Was it Norv Turner’s ghost coming back to haunt the Chargers from his coaching coffin with the Cleveland Browns?
Lack of execution is the go-to excuse for players and coaches alike when a failure like this arises, but trying to explain why one running play from the one-yard line was called with the team’s smallest running back is a difficult task. No offense to Danny Woodhead, but he would be the last player to turn to at the goal-line in my opinion. Ryan Mathews deserves at least one shot to get the ball into the end zone, regardless of his previous fumble issues. Even a quarterback sneak with Rivers on one play would have been a more acceptable call than to try and pass your way to pay dirt from such a short distance away – just fall forward.
Now it’s time for the same inescapable questions to come up again about the Chargers’ lack of killer instinct in the clutch. From the failures to finish off the Houston Texans with a three-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter in Week 1 to the struggles to complete a similar task against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3, this team lacks a certain gravitas to come through when needed the most.
Until the Bolts can overcome this stigma as a team destined to fail and become one that is primed for success these questions will only continue to grow in volume. With both the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs and juggernaut Denver Broncos each still on the schedule twice down the stretch, a potential playoff berth could go up in smoke in a hurry.