Monday, September 8

The AFC: now accepting applications

Patriot fans remain inconsolable, but the AFC fans who need to be the most concerned are in San Diego. Without a reset button, New England faithful can take solace in knowing this year is a throw away. The year can go one of two ways, the team can either come together and become a fan favorite, or they can go 53 different ways, and drive the fans mad. At this point, they aren't the number one seed, but they certainly aren't out of the playoff race. The Chargers on the other hand, have symptoms of a much bigger problem.

Being 0-1 should not be cause for alarm, but the record doesn't tell the story. Going into the fourth quarter of yesterday's game, San Diego wide receivers had a whopping one catch, and that was on a blown coverage. Rivers proved once again that tight end Antonio Gates serves as his security blanket. After the game, however, Gates admitted his toe was still causing him problems, “The judgment part of it is what makes it tough: whether I'm helping the team or hurting the team,” Gates said. “That's something that we'll still have to build on going through the season. I have to make the right judgment on whether I'm beneficial for the team or not.” After the game, Gates was wearing a protective boot on his foot. As if ineffective wide receivers and lingering injuries to one of the top TEs in the league wasn't enough, LaDainian Tomlinson didn't even rush for 100 yards. The offense was largely held in check until the Carolina defense started playing passively with lead (almost a BIG mistake).

The defense was solid for most of the game, but when it came to crunch time, they were unable to hold, both at the end of the first half and at the end of the game. The in-and-out activities of Shawne Merriman could also be problematic, especially if he continues to only get one tackle per game. Perhaps the most telling stat was four of the Chargers top five tacklers being DBs.

Fans and writers in San Diego will point to bad luck, and say that the pedestrian Panthers were just a little hungrier, but that wasn't the case. The Chargers have serious problems. Unfortunately, unlike Patriots the problem isn't conspicuous. It will eat away at their season, as they try to understand why their team is losing to teams they normally beat. The AFC top spots are officially up for grabs.

As a note, the MSM will continue to bypass the Panthers as just another team, but this team just outrushed the Chargers in total yards and y/c. Combine this with a passing game that featured seven receivers and an offensive line that has decided sieve is not an effective scheme. Their defense held on eight of twelve third downs, and Jon Beason and Chris Harris have combined to give the defense a swagger. Oh, and they've got Steve Smith coming back after next week.

1 comment:

Cleet said...