Sometimes it’s difficult to understand just what makes the San Diego Chargers tick.
This team loses games it should win throughout the first half of every season only to put together a late push for the playoffs during the closing weeks each and every year. Unfortunately those pushes have all come up empty in recent history, but in 2013 the Bolts will carry some hopes into the season’s final weekend for the franchise’s first trip to the playoffs in four years.
There are plenty of reasons why this time could be different from seasons past, however, with a new coaching staff headed by Mike McCoy and several new faces all over the field. Some common themes also give hope as well with guys like Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates fully familiar with these situations and what it takes to succeed.
It’s just too bad the team didn’t take care of business earlier in the year when the opportunity was right in front of them. Rivers lamented that fact to ESPN following Sunday’s victory over the Oakland Raiders as he said:
“That’s our own fault. We should have clinched a spot today. But those are all what ifs. We didn’t.”
That reality is still a difficult one to understand given the losses that should have been wins from the Bolts earlier in the year. There were tight games that looked like wins late against non-contenders like the Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins that turned into losses, and lately there have been very winnable games that also ended in favor of the opponents against playoff caliber teams like the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins.
But perhaps we all should have seen this coming it we go back to the first game of the year against the Houston Texans. That contest itself was the perfect microcosm of the last three seasons in San Diego. The Bolts would show promise and look destined for big things only to crash down to earth in a spectacularly underwhelming meltdown.
Now’s not a time to dwell in the past, however, as these Chargers have grown into a team with young players thriving in key positions like rookie wide receiver Keenan Allen and rookie offensive tackle D.J. Fluker. This team has grown together throughout the wins and the losses to become a playoff-worthy squad. Some luck in Week 16 helped keep them alive in their quest to fulfill that destiny as well, but even more will be needed if they hope to complete the journey with a spot in the postseason.
Losses by the Dolphins – who were shutout by the Buffalo Bills this past weekend – at home against the New York Jets and the Baltimore Ravens – who looked awful from start to finish in Week 16 against the New England Patriots – on the road at the Bengals will be needed in the early games this coming Sunday to keep the Bolts in the hunt, but by the time they kickoff with the Kansas City Chiefs they will know if they are playing for it all or if they’re going after absolutely nothing. Here’s hoping that the team’s hard work over the past few weeks get one last shot of luck in Week 17.