This season has been a learning experience for a young San Diego Chargers team with loads of potential just waiting to be fully realized. These Bolts have experienced gut-wrenching come from ahead losses as well as hard to swallow comeback attempts falling short. The team has given away leads and shown valiant effort on the road in adverse circumstances on several occasions. Despite all of this, the Chargers learned a very important lesson against the Denver Broncos on Sunday: They still have a ways to go.
A slow start doomed the Bolts in Week 10 as the Broncos compiled a 28-6 lead with San Diego settling for field goals and missing out on huge red zone opportunities early. The inability to cash in for touchdowns has been a recurring theme for the Chargers which goes back to a lack of running game and effectiveness from the offensive line. Even though the Bolts mounted a furious comeback fueled by their defense stifling Peyton Manning and company in the second half, the effort ultimately fell short.
But that won’t deter this young team with self-belief thanks to first-year head coach Mike McCoy. His attitude is reflected in nearly all of the youth on this squad as rookie receiver Keenan Allen basically offered the same thoughts emanating from the entire locker room as he told ESPN:
“We can play with those guys any day of the week. It just came down to not executing in the first half. But we came out, corrected our stuff and made the game a game.”
That confidence will come in handy as the Bolts face daunting schedule in the upcoming weeks and remain a part of the AFC playoff picture. A trip to the east coast to face the Miami Dolphins is on tap next week with a journey to the Midwest to battle the currently still undefeated Kansas City Chiefs following that. The Bolts will still face these Broncos once more on the road and will also square off with Kansas City again in the season’s final week. This upcoming slate will allow this Chargers team to really show what it’s made of and if the confidence is just false bravado or genuine reason for optimism.
Right now the playoffs are still a real possibility for the Bolts with only the New York Jets currently holding a better record in the chase for the AFC wild card spot. At 4-5 this season could still go in multiple directions for the Chargers, and it remains to be seen just which one will prevail. With the defense struggling to prevent big plays – the Bolts allowed five passing plays of 18 or more yards to the Broncos, including two for touchdowns just a week after giving up eight plays of 20 yards or more to the Washington Redskins – the climb to a playoff berth is bound to be a steep one. Here’s to hoping that young confidence bleeds over to better tackling and sound fundamental defense for the stretch run.