For all of the hope and optimism surrounding the San Diego Chargers now that they have made the playoffs for the first time since 2009, there has to be an equal amount of pessimism about head coach Mike McCoy’s team.
Playing against a crew of second-teamers from the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bolts had a serious lack of execution in some very fundamental areas this past Sunday. Clearly that can still allow teams to skate by for a narrow victory against a bunch of second-string guys, but once the playoffs get started that type of performance isn’t going to cut it.
The most glaring deficiencies on this team can still be found on defense where the guys up front were just engulfed by a mish-mash group of offensive linemen for Kansas City on Sunday. Kendall Reyes was the lone exception to this as both Corey Liuget and Cam Thomas were nearly invisible in stopping the run while the linebackers behind them struggled to fill holes as well. Knile Davis did his best Jamaal Charles impression, and against regulars that will only be further exposed as a serious issue.
But the worst problem still resides in a secondary that is susceptible to being beaten routinely by even the likes of Chase Daniel. The deep ball remains a big concern, especially going up against the Cincinnati Bengals and A.J. Green in the Wild Card round. Band-aids like Richard Marshall, Derek Cox, and even homegrown Shareece Wright look destined to be replaced come the offseason. This secondary needs a complete overhaul, and unfortunately that really isn’t an exaggeration.
Dexter McCluster was able to have a field day on the Bolts, and Giovani Bernard is an even more versatile version of the speedy guy for the Chiefs. Bernard and the Bengals are sure to give the Chargers troubles as they did back when the two sides met in early December and it looked like San Diego saw its playoff hopes disappear.
Though the offense for the Chargers makes them a legitimate threat to do some serious damage and make a run through the playoffs the defense makes them just as likely to be a one-and-done. It’s difficult to ignore just how one-sided the previous meeting between these two teams was and that was even in San Diego. The Bolts surrendered 164 yards on the ground in that contest but only gained 91 themselves. They will need to be much more balanced this time around if they want to take down the favored Bengals on their home turf.
Given their recent lackluster showing and less than stellar performance in the first meeting back in Week 13, the Chargers clearly have some issues to correct in this week of preparation. Hopefully defensive coordinator John Pagano can get the guys on the same page as they gear up for their first taste of the postseason in four long years.