By Dave Thomas
For the Los Angeles Chargers, the ship is taking on more water.
While the Bolts may not be the Titanic, they are moving closer and closer to drowning in a bad season that is but three weeks old.
With three Philip Rivers turnovers on Sunday, Los Angeles (0-3) dropped a 24-10 decision in Carson, California to AFC West rival Kansas City (3-0). As such, the Chargers are but one of five winless teams (Giants, Bengals, Browns, Niners) heading into the fourth week of the season.
On this early fall afternoon, it was the veteran Rivers who looked like a rookie, tossing three interceptions when all was said and done. Throw in the fact that running back Melvin Gordon is far from healthy with a bad knee, and you have a team that is reeling in front of its “home” fans in the greater Los Angeles area.
So, what’s the solution to getting this team righted and avoiding going down as a sinking ship? With Philadelphia (2-1) coming to town next Sunday, things do not get any easier for the Chargers. If Los Angeles can’t put together a full 60-minute performance of error-free football soon, look for the Bolts to be fighting for the No. 1 draft pick in next spring’s NFL Draft.
On paper, the Chargers’ offense looked pretty decent coming into the season. With a healthy Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon, there were hopes that the offense would click on all cylinders. Add in Rivers and his experience, and this is a team that is certainly capable of putting up points.
Through three games, Los Angeles has scored 21, 17 and 10 points, respectively. No, 48 points through three games is not going to win you a ton of victories. Rivers finished his day 20-of-40 for 237 yards and the trio of turnovers. On the ground, Los Angeles once again failed to establish itself. Before leaving with his knee injury, Gordon rushed for 79 yards on 17 carries and a score. Those are not the worse stats in the world, but they’re not good enough to give the Chiefs a lot to worry about.
The best offensive performance for the Bolts came from wide receiver Travis Benjamin, catching five balls for 105 yards.
Going against a Kansas City squad that had scored 42 and 27 points, respectively, in its first two wins, the Chargers knew they’d have their hands full with this squad. In hindsight, Los Angeles did a respectable job against Alex Smith and his different weapons. For the afternoon, Korey Toomer and Jatavis Brown each recorded 10 total stops, respectively. Linebacker Melvin Ingram was a thorn in the sides of the Chiefs, tallying three sacks on the day. Through the first three games, the Los Angeles defense has been good enough to keep the Bolts in the games. Now, it will come down to the offense putting together a solid four quarters of play to get that first win on the board.
Special Teams: C
For the first time in three weeks, rookie kicker Younghoe Koo did not have the game on his foot at the end. After heartbreaking missed kicks against Denver and Miami, Koo did not factor in the game. In retrospect, that may have been a good thing. A third straight missed field goal at the end of the game may have been the breaking point for the young kicker.
For rookie head coach Anthony Lynn, the learning curve continues to expand. As Lynn is discovering, things can get out of control before too long. Although the season is not in the tank yet, there needs to be marked improvement in the coming weeks or matters could get rather ugly. Much of any hopes for improvement will depend on whether Gordon can get his knee healthy. The bottom line is that the Bolts can’t rely on Rivers to win games week after week like he could have in the past.
Up Next: Los Angeles finishes its three-game home slate in Carson by hosting Philadelphia. The Eagles raised their record to 2-1 with an exciting 27-24 win over the rival New York Giants. Jake Elliott nailed a team-record 61-yard field goal on the game’s final play for the win.