By Curtis M. Egan
BoltTalk Staff Writer
The fans of the San Diego Chargers have that strange sinking feeling again. Another season and another dreaded ‘slow start’. The Chargers came into Seattle and looked down right discombobulated, out of sync and uninspired in a losing effort.
The Chargers had sparks. The Chargers Defense for one is playing at a higher level than arguably they did all last season. I know, I know, you will ask ‘How can they be playing better if they are losing 2 out of 3 games?’ It is a decent question, the answer may be debated by some, but I think it is clear that they are not losing on Defense. They are losing games on Special Teams.
In Seattle, against their one time divisional rival Seahawks the Chargers suffered some setbacks early in the game. They lost Linebacker Shawne Merriman and Guard Luis Vasquez. It was the loss of Vasquez which had an immediate impact as his replacement Guard Tyronne Green gave up a big sack on one play, then came off the line early giving the team a false start. Green was playing in relief of Vasquez, and was obviously nervous in front of this very vocal crowd.
In the second half Chargers Corner Back Quentin Jammer intercepted Seahawks Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in the end zone giving the Chargers a slight spark. However the Chargers drive ended in front of the end zone as a Seattle Defender put his helmet on the ball, causing Chargers Running Back Mike Tolbert to fumble the ball, which Seattle recovered.
This was a physical game, at one point Rivers was on the bench having a cut on the bridge of his nose worked on. Before the second half there were a total of 5 injuries, 2 Chargers and 3 Seahawks. The game was a 3 point game when in the second quarter Jammer got called for a pass interference which moved the Sehawks down into scoring range. On the next play Seattle went up 10-0. That was the score at halftime.
At the begging of the half the Seahawks took the ensuing kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown, as the special teams had another breakdown in coverage. So 13 seconds into the third quarter the Chargers were down 17-0.
The Chargers Offense and Defense scratched and clawed their way back into the game, offensively with a Touchdown to Wide Receiver Malcom Floyd, and Kicker Nate Kaeding field goal. Defensively with the defensive play of the young year Linebacker Brandon Siler bull rushed through the Seahawks offensive line to sack Hasselbeck in the end zone for a safety.
The Chargers offensively got back in the game with a late touchdown and 2 point conversion to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Then it happened again. The Chargers special teams once again allowed a kick of return, this one for 99 yards and again the Chargers trailed by 7, which is how the game ended.
Of the 61 points the Chargers have given up in the first 3 games, 21 of those have come from Special Teams touchdowns. I won’t get into the ‘If not this, then that’ game, but in both losses the Special teams have a dire impact on the team. Arguably the Chargers played well enough to win both games, but did not.
Antonio Gates: Antonio you are amazing. At one point Gates caught a pass with one hand against his leg and kept it off the ground for one of the most amazing catches I have seen. Gates gives the Chargers a spark every game, he is arguably the best player on the Chargers now. Yes I said THE BEST, not second best.
Philip Rivers: Another good game. A few off target passes but you were harried all day. You finished the day with a team record in passing yards in a single game; 29 of 53 for 455 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception.
Brandon Siler: You have been showing why you need to get more snaps since you joined the team. Your sack for a safety was a thing of bestial beauty! Add to that 5 solo tackles and it makes for a very good day.
Eric Weddle There are some fans who are not fond of Weddle, but I don’t know why. He has a nose for the ball and is an excellent defender. He had 6 solo tackles on the day and was always around the ball.
Defense: I hope it is not lost on Charger fans at the excellent defensive efforts you are giving the Chargers fans.
Tyronne Green: You were thrown at the frying pan, but they missed and you fell into the fire. You had a rough day and it showed. The play where you false started you were all the way into the side of Nick Hardwick at center before the flag hit the ground. Get your reps in practice; we need you playing better than we saw today. I give you a pass as it was your first game…
Special Teams: Words cannot express my anger at the fact that two losses can be laid at your collective feet. A strength of the team in years past, this year you look like you are not ready to play, not on the same page, and not able to make a tackle or catch a returner. I do not think your job is an easy one, but you have to improve over what you are showing us thus far.
Darren Sproles: A fumble, a pass bouncing off of your chest, and a lot of knees in the end zone. Not the ‘Lightning Bug[/i] of seasons past.