Chargers Head Into Bye Looking For Consistent Play Down The Stretch
By Dave Thomas
Although it will take the San Diego Chargers playing one more game to officially reach the halfway point of their schedule, the Bolts head into their bye week on a high.
Following Sunday’s 24-6 dismantling of winless Jacksonville on the road, the Chargers can now rest some battered bodies as they prepare for the second half of their season. And if you ask most of the Chargers, including new 30,000-yard passer Philip Rivers, the majority would likely say that the break is coming at just the right time.
Awaiting the birth of his and his wife’s seventh child this past weekend, Rivers was taking care of other business some 3,000 miles away.
As part of his 22-for-26, 285-yard (one TD) passing day, the North Carolina State product moved into second place on San Diego’s all-time passing yardage list, trailing only the legendary Dan Fouts (43,040 yards). With the win, Rivers and company have firm control of third place in the AFC West at 4-3, looking up at unbeaten Kansas City (7-0) and Denver (6-1).
With that in mind, where do the Bolts go from here with nine games remaining in the regular season?
Consistency Will Be Key in Second Half
First and foremost, the Chargers will need to be more consistent in their play down the stretch.
If you look back at the first seven games, you could certainly make an argument that this team could be 7-0.
What? You think that is a bit of a stretch? If so, here’s some things to chew on regarding San Diego’s three losses:
Houston (Lost 31-28) – Anyone that has watched the Texans play over the last month knows that head coach Gary Kubiak is on borrowed time this season. The ineffective play of starting QB Matt Schaub, not to mention injuries to Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and some key members of the defense have left Houston scrambling at this point to even finish above .500. The Chargers opened the season at home versus Houston, blowing a 28-7 lead in the process.
Tennessee (Lost 20-17) – With under a minute to go, it looked like the Chargers were heading out of Music City with a victory, only to have their win snatched away. While Tennessee QB Jake Locker is not Brandon Weeden (Cleveland) or Mark Sanchez (N.Y. Jets), he is far from being the next Tom Brady or Drew Brees. Locker’s late game heroics gave the Titans the win in the game’s final seconds, the second of San Diego’s frustrating setbacks.
Oakland (Lost 27-17) - Yes, there is never a sure ‘W’ when playing the hated Raiders. Oakland could be 0-14 and still beat the Chargers twice during the season or vice-versa. That said, San Diego would dearly love to have this game again (not to mention they host the Raiders on Dec. 22). The Bolts basically slept walk through the first 30 minutes of play, finding themselves down 17-0 at one point. The Chargers pulled within 24-17, but a pair of interceptions from Rivers put the final nails in the coffin.
Chargers Could Be Even With the Chiefs
With consistent play through the first seven weeks of the season, yes, you can make a case that the Chargers could be right up there with the Chiefs.
While there were quality wins over good Dallas and Indianapolis teams, the three teams San Diego has lost to so far are a combined 7-13. Yes, not exactly the Seahawks, Patriots, Bengals or Saints.
Starting with the game November 3 at Washington, the Chargers will face a November slate (along with Denver, at Miami, at Kansas City) that sit at a combined 18-8 to date.
If the Bolts can play against those opponents and those in December like they did the last two weeks against Indy and Jacksonville, then don’t just hand the Chiefs or Broncos the AFC West title quite yet.
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.