New head coach Mike McCoy worked some magic with the rebuilding San Diego Chargers in the opening two months of the season. His presence in revamping the offense helped quarterback Philip Rivers return to his old form even without many proven targets in his arsenal. Some were whispering Rivers’ name as a potential dark horse for the MVP and others were loudly considering the Bolts as a threat to make the AFC playoffs as a wild card.
Well, it was fun while it lasted.
A three-game losing streak coming out of the bye week has really dampened expectations as these Chargers are looking eerily similar to the teams of years past who just couldn’t finish. The defense has been exposed for shoddy tackling, the offense has lacked the ability to turn red zone trips into seven points instead of three, and the overall on-field product has rapidly declined back into mediocrity.
Of the many great decisions this new regime has made while in power, one of the more puzzling ones remains the lack of attention paid to finding a pass rusher. Obviously the team tried to replace Melvin Ingram when he went down with an injury in minicamp by signing Dwight Freeney, but with him now out for the year as well the sack artists are nonexistent. It makes one wonder why Shaun Phillips, who signed for just $1.4 million in total cap hit on a one-year deal with the division rival Denver Broncos, was not re-signed despite the team still having enough wiggle room to bring the Bolt for life back. All he has done this season is have nine sacks so far to rank 6th in the NFL in that department.
Another issue has been the play-calling of the new coaching staff in critical situations. That was the main gripe for fans under the previous numbskull Norv Turner who continuously called the same predictable play sequences and allowed defenses to key in on these tendencies. Those tactics may be gone, but the conservatism is still very much present as has been proven in four come-from-ahead losses this season. Even swap half of those dropped games out for wins and these Bolts are sitting pretty in the sixth and final wild card spot currently.
But all of this conjecture will really do the team no good at this point as they gear up for another stiff task with the Kansas City Chiefs on tap this weekend. The free fall velocity threatens to only intensify with this game and those that follow as the easiest opponents left on the schedule are the suddenly hot New York Giants and similarly improved Oakland Raiders.
Having already lost in Oakland earlier this season, the Bolts are technically in the basement of the AFC West currently thanks to their recent doldrums. If we trust in Newton’s law of inertia that an object in motion tends to stay in motion, the depths to which these Chargers are about to sink could provide a new all-time low.