I think it’s safe to say that no one was pleased with how the Chargers played on Sunday. But at least we didn’t lose. I’m sure Kansas City would trade our performance for theirs last night if it resulted in a win. Like many Justice Leaguers, I ended up watching that game and having to root for Oakland. It sucks, I know. I also watched a fair amount of Monday’s game, which seemed to follow much the same script for the first 3.5 quarters. This is where we are at, FAITHFUL READER. We aren’t in as a deep hole as we’ve been before, but it will take a better record to get into the playoffs than it has in years past.
I read a comment on the U-T forum that there is no reason to hope for the postseason if we aren’t going to win the Super Bowl. Following that reasoning, we should hope for a better draft pick. I disagree, and not just because all of our high draft picks seem to get hurt. Obviously the offensive line is a problem and not Super Bowl caliber. But did you watch the 9-7 Giants a few years back and think they would win the Super Bowl? When we gave up the 4th and 29 to Baltimore, I would never have been able to imagine that team hoisting the Lombardi.
In both cases, the defenses and quarterback play were elevated significantly in January to propel those teams. But I’m just saying that we shouldn’t pack it in before Thanksgiving. There is no question that the Rams will be tough. I think their having beaten Denver at home the week before they face us at home is a good thing. I don’t think that we were going to take them lightly, but it really sends a message to the Bolts that they need to get this win before going on the road again. Guys like Rivers, Gates and Weddle are far too accustomed to scoreboard watching and I am sure the Queefs losing in Oakland light an additional fire under them.
Of course, it only matters how they perform on the field this Sunday. The Rams pass rush has been scary since last season. It would be nice to think that the protection will be better, but it’s more likely that Rivers will get the ball out quicker. It seems like the screen pass has been absent for a while. The quick hitter to Royal appears to be in the mix and hopefully Mathews getting more involved will help. Oliver is the closest we will have to Woodhead this season, but it seems like him coming on third down is a tip to the defense that he will get the ball. Unless you are Ronnie Harmon or Darren Sproles, you can’t beat an NFL defense with a play that they know is coming.
When the Bolts get into manageable third downs, they are forced to bring Donald Brown in to block and he’s shown zero explosiveness. When Rivers is under pressure, he usually flicks it with his wrist or throws a dangerous pass. That miracle grab by Gates on the Chargers’ final drive was almost intercepted. We’ve seen some of Rivers’ bad habits coming back of late, but an improved running game could help. I saw in Monday’s U-T chat a question about the Bolts not really having a receiver to stretch the field. It’s a good point, since the game I was at in Buffalo featured some of those long throws to Floyd that really kept Buffalo’s defense honest. They have a pretty good pass rush, although not as good as the Rams’. I guess I should be happy that the Bolts’ game in Western New York was scheduled when it was, huh?
The offense looked out of sync against Oakland. I don’t put much stock into Rivers yelling at Keenan Allen on the sideline. As for Chatty Phil’s ribs, I am sure that he has been playing hurt. However, he got banged up in last year’s game against the Giants as well. As you recall, that was when the Ryan Mathews renaissance truly began. It’s not as if McCoy voluntarily started using him more at first. Once the offense reaches the 10-yard line, it would be nice to see Reich give Mathews the ball. They don’t even need to use that two back set that they did against Arizona. What’s so frustrating about watching Mathews sit is that he can often fall forward for more yards than other back struggle so hard for. I know all about his fumbling and health. But he’s gone AWOL when he wasn’t returning from an injury as well. While it certainly doesn’t seem like it’s in the Bolts’ best interests to give him a new contract right now, there is no reason not to use the hell out of him.
The defense looked a lot better, albeit against Oakland. They still have trouble actually putting a quarterback on the ground, except for Jerry A. Acee wrote a bunch this week about how guys like Butler and Reyes were only in for the base packages, which allowed the role players to rotate in and out. While that’s not cost effective for what Butler is being paid or where Reyes was drafted, it’s better for the team right now. If either of those two guys could display some playmaking ability (although Butler did fall on that fumble), I’m sure they’d be in for more plays. The corners looked good in the first game since Verrett went on the IR. His surgery was reportedly successful but it sucks that he’s out for the year. But Wright and Flowers were actually the defensive backfield that we expected to start before the season began anyway.Rivers’ ribs took some of the attention away from McCoy’s mismanagement at the end of the first half and that awful short run call when the Bolts needed only a first down to pull away. Jay Posner has been all over “McNorv,” and I am sure his tight-lipped press conferences make him an even bigger target. As AJ Smith learned, you can’t use the “Patriot Model” without the wins and rings to back it up. To let the clock run down at the end of the half was stupid. It seemed like most fans were okay that Novak finally missed a kick if it reminded McCoy of why it was so stupid to settle for the attempt. I have written at length about how the Chargers historically miss kicks that they “back into.” The most recent example I can think of is Norv playing for a tie against the Tebows. Between the late (and soon to be enshrined) Junior Seau oddly screaming “Spanos” to confused fans during his ring of honor induction and Novak peeing in a jug, it was a low point for the Bolts all around. But when you coach like a loser, the results usually follow.
I don’t know if McCoy is going through growing pains, but I won’t compare anyone to Norv. I think that forces me at times to turn away from the knowledge that he’s fucking up. I just can’t admit to myself we are in a hopeless situation. I don’t think that we are, but I know many of the Legion Of The Lightning Bolt are already at their breaking point. I also know that he’s not going anywhere after his second year, so why waste time thinking about it. It’s more likely that a coordinator could be offered up as sacrifice. However, it doesn’t seem like The Organization has Pagano on the hot seat the way the fans do.
That’s all for now. I still think we can do this, beginning with tomorrow. I think that if the team can start playing well, the crowd will respond. The following week I will actually be in the air during the Baltimore game but should be able to listen to it. Hopefully we can win tomorrow so that the following game will feel so important that I can in the position of keeping myself from engaging in some airborne incident on November 30.
Be well out there. I have my “Rams Suck” shirt for tomorrow although the last time I wore it was the game where we blew a late lead in St. Louis. Remember this game? When you read the account of that 2002 contest, remind yourself about all the people who wonder why Marty or even Brees didn’t get to stay.
I still think it’s safe to wear the shirt tomorrow. If you are wondering why I even have an anti-Rams shirt, it’s because I needed to buy it in order to get the Raiders Suck shirt some Pats fan was selling from their 2001 playoff run.
Let It Begin. Again.