By Dave Thomas
Blown opportunities will drive any NFL head coach nuts, especially when you are trying to set a new attitude following several years of losing.
Such is the case for new San Diego Charger Head Coach Mike McCoy, who must get his squad to put last Monday evening’s 31-28 home loss to Houston behind them. If they do not do that, they could be staring at an 0-2 record following this Sunday’s visit to NFC East leading (tied with Dallas) Philadelphia. The game in South Philly is set for 10 a.m. Pacific Time.
After essentially man-handling the Texans to the point where they held a 28-7 lead at one point, the Chargers sat by and watched the visitors run off 24 unanswered points in Week One’s final game Monday. When all was said and done, the Bolts had clearly let one slip away.
So, where does a franchise that has missed the playoffs for the last three seasons, go from here?
Loss to Texans Brought Back Bad Memories
It would be easy to have blamed the team’s inability to hold a lead on Norv Turner (something the Chargers did regularly the last few seasons), but Turner is now the offensive coordinator in Cleveland, this after being let go in San Diego following last season’s performance. Although McCoy was brought in to provide the team with a new attitude and more offensive punch, San Diego’s defense clearly looked like it had run out of gas in the fourth quarter against Houston.
Whether conditioning and/or injuries not made clear to the team’s medical staff contributed to the fourth quarter meltdown, the Chargers must put the loss behind them, focusing in on a Philadelphia squad that was flying under its new head coach against Washington Monday night.
The Eagles, the only NFC East team to never win a Super Bowl (San Diego is the only AFC West team to hold that dubious distinction too), scored 33 points and rolled up more than 400 yards of total offense in the win over the rival Redskins. In doing so, new head coach Chip Kelly (Oregon) showed that quarterback Michael Vick and Co. will more than likely be a threat for the division title this season.
As they prepare to meet the Eagles this weekend, the Chargers make the cross country trip with a few question marks regarding just who will take the field on Sunday.
Heading into Friday, linebacker Manti Te’o (Notre Dame) was still a major question mark as to whether or not he would see his first regular season action come Sunday.
Te’o, who may have been a surprise pick for some Charger fans, continues to be bothered by a foot injury suffered during pre-season. The former Fighting Irish star was held out of practice again this week, with the hope that staying off the foot will speed up his recovery time. As a result, reserve inside linebacker Bront Bird (10 solo tackles in loss to Texans) is expected to get the start once again in replacing Te’o.
Meantime, linebacker Dwight Freeney (acquired in the off-season from the Colts) did not participate in practice, though the team said that was due to a non-injury matter.
The Chargers go to Philadelphia as a 7.5 point underdog, hoping to even their season mark at 1-1. This contest precedes match ups at Tennessee (Sept. 22) and home to Dallas (Sept. 29).
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.