San Diego QB Philip Rivers and RB Ronnie Brown put their heads down in the Chargers' Week 6 loss to the Denver Broncos.
In Week 7 of the 2012 NFL season, some teams are thankful to have their bye week.
The San Diego Chargers are one of those teams.
The Chargers are coming off an embarrassing loss to Denver in which they allowed the Broncos to score 35 unanswered points in the second half.
With the loss, San Diego blew its chance to get a little separation from Denver in the AFC West. Had they won, the Chargers would be 4-2 and up two games over their division rivals. Instead, the team is 3-3 and in a tie for first place.
This time out for the Chargers will give them a chance to think about what they’ve done wrong and address some major problems before it’s too late.
Chargers watch from the sideline as Denver WR Eric Decker runs the ball against San Diego's defense
The Chargers have had a tough time closing out games for the past two weeks.
In the Chargers' Monday night game against Denver, San Diego gave up 35 unanswered points in the second half after leading 24-0.
In Week 5 the team blew a 10-point lead in the third quarter against the Saints to hand a winless team its first victory of the season.
The Chargers fell apart in the second half of Monday’s game. The team committed five turnovers in the second half, including four in the fourth quarter.
The same was true of San Diego in the fourth quarter of its game against the Saints.
San Diego gave up a touchdown on New Orleans’s first possession of the quarter. After his team retook possession, Philip Rivers threw an interception. And in the Chargers’ next possession, Rivers was sacked and fumbled the ball for yet another turnover.
This stuff won’t get the Chargers far in the playoffs. This team needs to tighten up in the second half of games if it wants to be better in the second half of the season.
Charger defenders block Saints' WR Marques Colston from catching the ball in Week 5
The Chargers are ranked 24th in the league in passing yards allowed with almost 270 per game.
In Monday’s game, the Chargers let Peyton Manning go 13-of-14 for 167 yards in the second half. They allowed 309 total passing yards for the game.
The team is ranked third in defending rushing offenses, allowing just over 70 yards a game. But in a league full of elite QBs who like to throw the ball, San Diego will need to work harder on their pass defense if they want to win games.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers readies to throw in Week 5 against the Saints
Philip Rivers hasn’t been the best decision maker for his team over the last two seasons, especially late in the game.
In their last game against Denver, Rivers threw a couple of very poor passes to his receivers that resulted in interceptions.
In one play Rivers threw the ball downfield, intending to connect with Robert Meachem, but Denver corner Tony Carter read Meachem’s route easily and intercepted.
Later in the quarter, Rivers dropped back in the pocket and threw short to Eddie Royal, but that too was easily intercepted and run in for a TD by Chris Harris.
Rivers had six turnovers in the game. He threw four interceptions, three of which came in the fourth quarter, and lost two fumbles.
He’s thrown nine interceptions this season and just 10 touchdown passes. And only two of those 10 TD passes have come in the second half of games this season.
His nine season interceptions ties him for second with four other NFL quarterbacks for most interceptions this season.
But this, like so many of the Chargers’ problems, is nothing new. Rivers had 20 interceptions last year, which was third-worst in the league.
If he wants his team to win, Rivers needs to be a better decision maker and a better overall leader. That includes being able to take over at the end of games, which he has not been able to do as of late.
Philip Rivers gets sacked by Saints defense in Week 5
In Monday’s game, there was one play that was particularly memorable in reference to San Diego’s offensive line.
When the Broncos were making their comeback in the third quarter, Denver DE Elvis Dumervil pretty much walked around Charger OT Jeromey Clary to sack Philip Rivers and strip the ball, leading to a Denver TD.
In that game, Rivers was sacked four times for losses totaling 24 yards. And don’t think that that was some kind of fluke. The Chargers’ O-line has allowed Rivers to be sacked 18 times already this season.
O-line struggles aren’t new for the Chargers. They had the same problems last season until they got Jared Gaither.
Offensive tackle Gaither was an important addition to the Chargers late last year.
San Diego was sacked just twice in the final five games of the season in which Gaither played. That’s compared to the 14 sacks in the five games prior to the Chargers acquiring him. All five of those games were losses, by the way.
But the success of San Diego’s offensive line can’t depend on one player alone. What if that one player gets injured?
Oh, that’s right. He is injured.
Jared Gaither has only played two games this season. He was out with a back injury for the first three weeks and is now dealing with a groin injury.
The O-line is one of the most important elements in a team’s success. The Chargers just don’t have it.
If they want to get anywhere in this season or the next, they need to make it a priority to develop that offensive line.