Trends of the disturbing variety have been the forte of the San Diego Chargers in recent years. No matter the guys out on the field or the coaches on the sidelines this team seems to just find a way to condemn itself to close losses. And on Sunday the Bolts managed to continue this unfortunate tendency of losing games they should win in yet another mind-numbing red zone performance by the team.
Sunday against the Miami Dolphins would have been just another road game flying across country for the Bolts had it not been for the ongoing fiasco involving suspended guard Richie Incognito and AWOL tackle Jonathan Martin in their so-called “BullyGate” scandal. This ordeal was enough to cause the Fins to lose to a previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers just one week prior so it seemed like the Bolts were getting the Fish at just the right time.
Not so fast, my friend.
Despite out-gaining the Fins 435 to 343, San Diego still failed to finish on the winning side of the scoreboard in a tough 20-16 defeat. Last week against the Denver Broncos two trips into the red zone resulting in field goals instead of touchdowns cost the team a critical win, and the script didn’t change much in this week’s episode. Two Nick Novak field goals after driving deep into Miami territory are what separated the Bolts from becoming serious AFC playoff contenders.
Instead, this team is now officially relegated to pretender status as far as ending their three-year playoff drought is concerned. Even though quarterback Philip Rivers continues to play solid football, as he found nine different receivers on the after noon in Week 11, this team just can’t put it all together to earn a victory. The running game even perked up against the Fish with Ryan Mathews carrying the ball 19 times for 127 yards on the day. It’s a shame red zone inefficiency is keeping this Chargers team from being a legitimate threat in the AFC this season.
Don’t believe me?
Well, the numbers prove my case with the Bolts as they ranked fifth in the NFL with an average of 3.7 trips to the red zone per game on the season coming into Week 11. Unfortunately those red zone attempts have yielded a touchdown scoring percentage of just 51.52 percent, ranking 22nd in the league, and that’s just not good enough to be considered a legit threat this season.
Though the offense has shown serious signs improvement by moving the ball up and down that field at impressive rates this season under new head coach Mike McCoy’s direction, he and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt must devise some better schemes to come away with seven instead of three inside of an opponents’ 20-yard line. Until this alarming statistic takes a turn in the right direction, the Chargers will be left to wonder what might have been.