Norv Turner slowly sauntered up to the podium at the post game press conference, his body slouched over, his being reeking of defeat. He stood in the crowded room, visibly shaken, looking as though he might break down and cry.
He pushed through his mandated speech and question and answer routine, making sure to note multiple times that the San Diego Chargers are unable to play a full game right now.
Great coaching analysis, Norv. Glad you're here.
For the second straight week, the Chargers blew a second half lead, this time in magnificently pathetic fashion. After building a commanding 24-0 lead by halftime, the Chargers imploded in the second half, allowing the Denver Broncos to score 35 unanswered points.
It was the fourth time in history that a team has lost after holding a 24-0 lead at the half, but the first time ever to happen at home.
There could not have been a worse time for this to happen.
They get to play the Broncos twice. Once at home, and once in Denver. This was the one at home. Check.
They could have gained an early stranglehold on the division, jumping out to a two game lead, and owning a win against each of the other three teams. Check.
The Chargers still are tied with the Broncos at 3-3, but it sure feels like they lost control of the division on Monday night. And I don't mean just for this season.
The Chargers have been division favorites since the mid 2000's. They don't always win it, but they always head into the season with that expectation. This year, the Broncos were given the slight edge, but that came with a million grains of salt due to the uncertainty surrounding Peyton Manning's neck.
It certainly seems to me like that window has closed. The train has left the station, and the Chargers are not on it.
It is time to admit that this team is not the 2006 team. The Chargers have become a middling team that beats up on the bad teams and falls short against good ones. They are the epitome of .500. Under current circumstances, they would finish 8-8 every season for the rest of time.
That is why I am proposing different circumstances.
Please note that I have had more than enough time to process the travesty that was Monday night. These aren't knee-jerk reactions This isn't anger and bitterness. This is just me facing reality.
First, Philip Rivers needs to go. There is absolutely no way, barring injury, that Rivers won't be starting the rest of the 2012 season. I can come to terms with that. And Charlie Whitehurst would be no better. But Rivers has completely lost his form. I have several theories as to why.
Maybe it is as simple as a declination in talent. He is thirty, after all.
Maybe it is more complex. Maybe he's been scarred by his offensive line's porous play in recent seasons, and now feels imaginary pressure when it's not really there; causing early and ill-advised pass attempts.
Maybe the team around him is just bad. Who knows?
But I will tell you something: For the first time since 2004, I can honestly say that the Chargers got a raw deal. Eli Manning is the better quarterback. Eli Manning has two rings. That's two more than Philip Rivers will end his career with.
Second, they need a coaching overhaul.
I am not going to go into detail about why Norv Turner is an awful coach, I'm sure you all know. But he has instilled in this team a crippling passivity.
They are not ready for games. They are not ready for opposition. They fold when it matters most. At a basic level, you have to blame the players on the field because they make the plays, but the overall mindset of this team has been demolished by poor coaching.
Lastly, they need to reach rock bottom.
This is the only way to guarantee any kind of change. If the Chargers could go 3-13 this season, I don't think that would be the worst thing ever for the development of the organization.
There has to come a point when not only do the Chargers play below expectations, but they play so poorly that the expectations start to diminish.The only thing worse than a team dropping a 24-point half time lead, is that team having a fan base as temperamental and reactionary as San Diego's.
This is the big flaw in my plan, however. The Chargers won't go 3-13. They don't do that. The Chargers are going to rebound from their bye week and demolish the Browns, Chiefs, and Buccaneers (trust me, I've seen this play before).
They will be 6-3, and everyone will forget about Week 6. But then they will spiral downwards to 6-7, dropping out of the AFC West race entirely. They will then rally back to finish 8-8.
The worst part about it is that 8-8 may result in an wild card this year. Seriously, look at the AFC.
There are currently two teams in the entire conference over .500. Unless you like the injury-ridden 2-3 Steelers, the 3-3 Bengals (who have dropped games to Miami and Cleveland the last two weeks), or one of the many mediocre contenders from the AFC East, who is finishing better than 8-8?
I miss the playoffs. It has been years since the Chargers have won a playoff game. But does an 8-8 playoff berth mean another year of this garbage? I would almost rather not go.
The main message here is not to be fooled when the Chargers get hot for their arbitrary annual win streak. Don't forget what this team really is. You can rest assured that I won't.