San Diego Chargers: 3 Things We Learned from the Falcons Game

Mike Walkusky@mwalkuskyContributor ISeptember 24, 2012

San Diego Chargers: 3 Things We Learned from the Falcons Game

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    The San Diego Chargers were on the embarrassing end of a 27-3 shellacking by the Atlanta Falcons, and it has many people wondering exactly how good the Chargers are this year.

    The Chargers won their first two games of the season, but their victories came against teams that most likely won't make the playoffs.

    The Falcons were the Chargers' first test of the season, and the Chargers failed miserably.

    Let's take a look at three things that we learned about the Chargers during their disappointing performance.

Ryan Mathews Still Can't Hold onto the Ball

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    During the offseason, there was talk that Ryan Mathews was working tirelessly to end his reputation as a fumbler.

    Michael Gehlken of the U-T San Diego wrote an article that explained how Mathews was carrying a football everywhere he went—even while lifting weights.

    In Mathews' first game of the 2012 season, he fumbled the ball.

    To make matters even worse, Mathews fumbled the ball when the Chargers were in the red zone. His fumble completely took away any momentum the Chargers had, and it was the turning point in the game.

    Mathews must get much better at holding onto the ball moving forward. He cannot continue to hurt the Chargers with his propensity to turn the ball over.

Philip Rivers Is Mistake-Prone

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    Just a few years ago, Philip Rivers routinely took big risks by throwing the ball deep while under pressure, and most of his risks ended up in big plays for the Chargers.

    Last year, Rivers' risks started to bite him. He began to make terrible throws that were picked off by defenders. Many of the throws could be attributed to poor pass protection, but Rivers still could have made adjustments.

    Going into 2012, the Chargers were hopeful that Rivers' interception problem was behind him.

    However, Rivers showed against the Falcons that he still makes ill-advised throws.

    Both of Rivers' interceptions against the Falcons were inexcusable throws that should have never been made.

    For the Chargers to succeed this year, Rivers needs to start making the smart throw rather than constantly trying to make big plays against fantastic coverage. 

The New Chargers Defense Can't Defend Tight Ends

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    The Chargers have long had trouble defending opposing tight ends. It seems like 2012 will be no different than the past.

    Tony Gonzalez absolutely dominated the Chargers to a tune of nine receptions for 91 yards and one touchdown. The Chargers rarely jammed Gonzalez at the line of scrimmage, which allowed him to cleanly release off of the line and get open downfield.

    When a talented tight end is given a free release, you can almost guarantee that he will be wide open.

    A defense has to be physical against tight ends, and the Chargers weren't physical with Gonzalez at all.

    The Chargers need to evaluate how they currently defend tight ends and figure out a much better strategy against tight ends moving forward.