Source: USA Today
Here the Chargers go again.
For the third consecutive year, the team has stumbled out of the gate. San Diego sits at a familiar 2-3 after losing Sunday to the Raiders.
The defeat in Oakland was the Chargers' third straight road loss, this after they lost only one road game last year.
The Chargers had the same old problems: horrible special teams, too many turnovers and a defense that couldn't deliver when its best was asked.
Coach Norv Turner danced and weaved and bobbed during his press conference Monday, not really giving a clear reason why the Chargers are — again — a game under .500 in mid-October.
"I look at our football team, and when we started the year, there were so many questions, and a lot of you had the questions," he said. "How were we going to run the ball? Could we run the ball? How are we going to get the ball to (Antonio) Gates without being able to spread the field? Who was going to be our deep threat with Vincent (Jackson) gone? How were we going to manage at left tackle? Defensively, could (Antoine) Cason play? I can go down the list. Defensive line, are we going to be physical enough?
"Those things certainly are not the issues in terms of why we're where we are. We know what it is. Obviously, we need to address it. We need to improve dramatically right now. Again, you have an issue, you think it's fixed, and in the case of turning the football over in the red zone, that one, we had the same problem (Sunday) that we've had."
Yes, the Chargers have answered some preseason questions, but what about the mess they've gotten into?
It's the same old refrain: We know what the problems are, and we will fix them.
But what's the deal with those fixes being for just one week? The Chargers put the equivalent of glue on the bumper of their car, and it lasts one week before falling off again.
"It's easy to generalize (about) the kicking game or special teams, but (Sunday) was certainly a totally different circumstance than what we've had," Turner said. "Sometimes it comes down to a player or two players understanding exactly their responsibility, and the things we had in the kicking game, we will fix. Our guys understand our situation.
"I felt we were physically ready to play, and it's a shame because you look at this group and there's so many guys playing the best football really of their careers on both sides of the ball, and we're not having the production we should have. I do believe they understand that, and I think some of our younger guys are going to figure it out and we'll get it fixed."
The Chargers' next chance to test their repairs will come Sunday in St. Louis.
—Former NFL coach Tony Dungy got under Norv Turner's skin when commenting on television Sunday night that the head coach is ultimately responsible when a team commits as many errors as the Chargers have.
"You make a comment and you see a team from afar and I understand his comment and I can relate to him," Turner said, setting up his zinger. "It's probably how he felt when his players let Darren Sproles return a punt and a kick for a touchdown here on a Sunday night game or when Peyton (Manning) threw six interceptions against us. I understand we have work to do, and it's like any head coach would feel after a game like that."
—RB Ryan Mathews looked good Sunday — when he got a chance. For some reason — Turner said Mathews' ankle is fine — he was limited to nine carries. Mathews averaged 6.6 yards and had a long of 17.
"How is he physically? He's a little bit sore but not to the point where I think he gets on an injury report or anything," Turner said. "I think he made it through the soreness he had Friday, and I think he's ready to go. I hope he's ready to go and carry the load or carry more of the load. When he gets an opportunity, he plays awfully well.
—Turner doesn't think the Chargers' slow starts on the road are related to a lack of focus. "I think we've had great focus," he said. "This is an emotional game. There's great emotion, and when you go on the road, there's going to be ups and downs, and there are in every game. You're going to go play four quarters. Our guys know how to go get ready to play, and they've gotten ready."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
—LT Marcus McNeill, a two-time Pro Bowler, has been added to the active roster, and he could start Sunday in St. Louis. McNeill had to sit out three games after being placed on the roster exempt list after signing his tender once the season started.
—WR Legedu Naanee tweaked his hamstring Sunday, and he might be unavailable this week.
—OLB Shawne Merriman got through Sunday's game OK with his tender calf, but the team will know more Wednesday about his availability for the St. Louis game.
—WR Buster Davis, who has been a disappointment since the Chargers drafted him in the first round, had a big chance to make a key catch on the Chargers' late drive Sunday but dropped the ball.
—RG Louis Vasquez could return Sunday after missing two weeks with a knee injury.
—S C.J. Spillman was released.
—CB Fred Bennett was cut.
REPORT CARD VS. RAIDERS
PASSING OFFENSE: B — Philip Rivers continues to amass amazing numbers — but they usually come in a loss. He cranked it up for 431 more yards and two touchdowns for a gaudy 114.3 rating, but one can't ignore two more turnovers. Malcom Floyd had the game of his life with a career-high 213 yards and a score. The pass protection was OK — Rivers usually had enough time, but he did get sacked three times. He was stripped of the ball, and the fumble was turned into a score.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C — There were some decent holes, and why Ryan Mathews continues to be babied is a mystery. When he got a chance he produced. But the Chargers leaned more on Mike Tolbert, and the result was 11 yards on 12 carries — and a fumble at the Oakland 1.
PASS DEFENSE: C —— At first glance, 173 passing yards seems like a respectable total for a defense to allow. But when the game was hanging in the balance, the Raiders consistently picked up critical yardage through the air, allowing them to stay in the game and win. The pass rush produced three sacks, but there was far too much time when it mattered, as Jason Campbell was able to go through his reads and find the right target time and time again. Finding a consistent pass rush continues to be a problem.
RUSH DEFENSE: C — Michael Bush went for 104 yards — not bad for a backup, as the Chargers were spotty here. Early in the game, it was clear the Raiders would be hard-pressed to run the ball. But as the game matured, the holes — especially up the middle — were more than enough for the Raiders to exploit. Kevin Burnett and Stephen Cooper played well inside.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F — Two blocked punts to start the game — which led to 12 points — would have been shocking if the team hadn't played so poorly on special teams for most of the year. Antwan Applewhite was the guilty party on letting the pressure come through on the blocks — at least he manned up for them. But there was also a killer 46-yard punt return that was almost a touchdown. San Diego's special teams were horrible, and no one really sees it getting better if it can't be fixed by now.
COACHING: F — Terrible special teams play, bonehead penalties, three more turnovers — should we go on? Norv Turner isn't directly responsible for all the miscues, but as head coach, he gets the blame. So after the boatload of errors his team made, the first play he mentions in his postgame press conference is a blown call for the Raiders having 12 men in the huddle? Turner needs to say it's on me, men, something that no one can remember him ever doing. The Chargers played down to the Raiders' level and that is just what the head coach has to avoid. Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera was apparently kidnapped at halftime because after dialing up various packages that had the Raiders dead in the water in the first two quarters, Oakland roared back to steal the win.