By Curtis Egan
BoltTalk Staff Writer
Last night the Chargers were the Bug. Sloppy conditions and at times sloppy play on offense and special teams combined to be the perfect storm in favor of the Kansas City Chiefs!
Credit where credit is due, the Chiefs and a gaggle of talented rookies came out and did what they could to win the game. Though their offense could not move the ball well, only getting their first, first down in the waning moments of the third quarter of play, their special teams and revitalized defense kept them in the game with a helping hand from Mother Nature.
Further, the 12th man was in full throat, and that helped their team greatly. A few false starts and miscommunications were caused by the Chief faithful shaking the stadium with their shouts. Chief fans enjoy this, your team won the game and you helped. Until next time…
The Chargers came out looking like they would take the game handily, with the Defense aggressively attacking the Chiefs and the Offense moving the ball well. Then there was two quarters of futility on offense. The most striking thing that occurred during this time period was the apparent miscommunications that were taking place between Quarterback Philip Rivers and Center Nick Hardwick. It was hard to watch frustration building, but in a way good to see Rivers asserting his will, as he clearly chewed a few of his linemen out at times.
I know it is hard to imagine it due to the loss, but the Chargers Defense played well on the evening. They held Chiefs QB Matt Cassel to only 68 yards passing, and with the exception of a 56 yard break out run by Chiefs Running Back Jamaal Charles they did a very respectable job against the run.
Where the Chargers failed to shine was by far on special teams. Specials teams was a dark spot for the Chargers last night, and it negatively impacted the game. On kickoff returns Darren Sproles averaged only 16 yards, with his long being only 19 yards, punt returns was even worse. Sproles on punt returns averaged only 6 yards. He appeared to be trying to take the title of ‘Human Dance Machine’ from Full Back Mike Tolbert. Sproles would catch the ball, shake it to the left, shake it to the right, do the hokey pokey and disappear from sight… as the Chiefs converged and smothered him.
There was no spark to special teams play, they looked lethargic and missed several tackles. Now it is the first game of the season, and the field was sloppy, but they have to play better in the future. They can’t count on the other units to make up for their poor play.
The Chiefs also won the turn over battle, though in this game there were not a lot of turnovers.
Now some Chargers fans have already began to pine for the players who do not want to be on the field and sat at home. But let me tell you this… Neither of these rich young men would have been making tackles on special teams or stopping a long run. The Offensive line did a very good job last night.
The Chiefs Defense showed speed it had not displayed in the last two seasons and their pressure on Rivers was decent. Even with that, Rivers was protected well, and hurried only a few times. Rookie Ryan Matthews ended his evening with 19 carries for 75 yards. On his one break out run, the ball was stripped from him by a tenacious defender, which I can’t fault Matthews for.
On the whole, I thought the Chargers played well. They lost, and that some times happens. Momentum and elements are part of the impacting forces that make the game of professional football so exciting.
Philip Rivers: This young man has to be considered one of the top five passers in the game. He showed last night that he is able to overcome elements, miscommunications and frustration and bring the team back. So long as Rivers is throwing the ball in San Diego, the Chargers have a chance to win every game.
Ryan Matthews: Now 75 yards and a fumble may not be something to crow about, but this young man showed some spark and indicated that he is only going to get better. What did I love about #24? He did not go down to the first defender than made contact with him very often. He gave some hits and kept his legs churning, at one point he pushed a pile of defenders about two yards for the first down. He will get his yards this season, and last night, in the elements he showed why.
Shaun Phillips: Boy howdy, I do not call out your name to often but man you played one hell of a game last night! Five solo tackles, a sack and being around the ball all night was great. Severall times he blew up blockers to clog a running lane, so even when he did not make a tackle he impacted the play. Continue playing at this level and you are pro bowl bound.
Darren Sproles: Lightning Bug, you got squashed last night. Your hesitation upon receiving the ball is frustrating to say the least. You seem to want to juke too much. Granted Chargers fans cheer you when the juke leaves the defender hugging air, but last night it left you staring into the grass. Use your speed. Move up field… GET THE YARDAGE!
Nick Hardwick: Nick! Whisky Tango Foxtrot over! You and Rivers need to take some extra time and get on the same page as far as getting the ball off. Making Rivers convulse behind you to get the ball makes the whole Offense look bad. Get on the same page!
The Defense played well, signs of good things to come.
The Offense shined at times, but now the dreaded ‘Fair Weather Team’ tag is back with good reason.
The Offensive Line can be proud of the job they did.
Charger fans, the season is not over, and we will meet the Chiefs again. First week of the season is always ugly for these Chargers, and it is now over. Time to skin some Jaguars! Welcome back Kassim Osgood, meet the Chargers D!