The sky is falling! The sky is falling! And to some degree that may in fact be true, but I continue to maintain that these are not your Chargers that have rendered you completely helpless in the face of challenging football for the last six years. Have we all forgotten so quickly the lasting damage that a Norv Turner can do to a franchise? Don't believe me? Starting with the Dallas Cowboys, then to the Washington Redskins, then the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, San Diego Chargers and now Cleveland Browns. Yes you can argue that only the 49ers have "recovered" by going to and losing a Super Bowl. The Norv Turner legacy of losing can take a generation to undue apparently. Hopefully we've got the proper cleansing material to get past this prior to my death. Hey, hope got a president elected in this country. Anything is possible...
The game Sunday was yes, disappointing to say the least. But aside the crushing blow of defeat we've become so used to, there were still some positives to take away from this game. First, one worry of this squad has been the depth as we've barely managed to scrap together enough pieces we'd consider starters after the dismantling of the damage that was done by the previous regime. There were at least four starters who missed kickoff depending on how you view the whole Donald Butler active/inactive debacle, and during the game an additional handful of starters dropped out of action on the offensive line. Testing the depth of the offensive line is not something I'd recommend we do on the regular, but dammit if the backups didn't step up and even move all over the place to keep Laserface's uniform relatively clean. An admirable job to say the least. This week we'll get Fluker back which should help the running game, while we'll likely be without Clary and Dunlap. Sunday becomes test day for some unproven commodities wearing our unis.
Let's talk about the elephant. I'd like for this not to become a weekly feature, but now exists a trend as Max pointed out graphically below and those trends number two. First, the Pagano insistence on playing not to fail is not working out so well in his favor to date. To the point that today I read an article that he is on the hot seat. While I won't go that far, dare I say there needs to be a philosophical and physical improvement or that talk will gain some momentum. He is in fact the only holdover from the previous regime so I'd imagine in the Spani's infinite wisdom he's the next to fall. I'm willing to give him a bit more time to sort things out for one reason. There is no one on this defense you actually know. No really. There's no one left that you actually know, you know, people who have been impact players here for a while. None. Half the jerseys on Sunday had names of guys you've never heard of. Let's give them a moment to understand life in the NFL before we fire anyone. Let's not forget, most of the pre-season power rankings had us between 24-28th in the league. Last week we were as high as 14. Let's not get crazy, we are already beating expectations and we are just two plays from being 3-0. Kevin Acee was quick to point out none our guys thought there was offensive pass interference on the Titans scoring pass with 15 seconds left. Justin Patrick, the man in coverage certainly thought so on the field in the moment and it was. But again, not putting ourselves in that position in the first place is the important part. Don't forget, Norv is gone. Write it on your bathroom mirror. NORV IS GONE.
Our second elephant is Ken Whisenhunt. While pinning the Titans deep on their six yard line with no timeouts seems on the surface as a pretty excellent decision, our play calling prevented us gaining the one additional first down that would have had the game ending with Philip getting a grass stain on his knee in victory formation. I know, I understand, an incomplete pass in any of those situations stops the clock and blah blah blah, blah, blahblahblahblahblah. Philip Rivers is completing exactly 70% of his passes. I'm not saying we have to revert to the Norv Turner playbook of executing pre-pass play action on strategies that take four days to develop, but a swing pass to Woodhead or utilizing Gates who is looking more like the 2005 version of himself that was uncoverable isn't the worst idea around. But, we did pin them back on the six yard line with no timeouts and as Max mentioned, we're a Gilchrist dropped interception from awesometown.
Is there room for improvement? Yes. Are we dealing with a lot of variables that will make the routine more difficult? Yes. We are lean on personnel, injuries are not helping, but make no mistake we are on the right road to recovery. Will it be pretty? Likely not at times. But like I told Max, we could go 0-16, (thankfully we won't), and I'd be happy because I'm on board with our changes and that's a start. My expectations are low and we're already exceeding them. It's impossible to ignore that the improvements are already in place. There is still a very good chance we finish above .500 with this team gelling and improving every week. This will be a successful season. I'm even willing to wager on it. Calm down Charger faithful. We are fine. We need a little fine tuning, and we'll need a little tweaking each week to make it work. I wish I had more poignant and funny things to say, but this one makes me happy to stand behind.
Cowgirls next. Reauxmeaux and the Cowgirls. Blackout lifted. Te'o to make his debut. I'm not worried. Nor should you be.
Weekly Power Rankings start after week 4. Let's have some fun.