Chargers vs. Browns: Leadership in San Diego on Notice After 7-6 Loss

Christopher Hansen@ChrisHansenNFLNFL AnalystOctober 28, 2012

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 28: Head coach Norv Turner of the San Diego Chargers talks with quarterback Philip Rivers #17 against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 28, 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

The San Diego Chargers were hoping to rebound from a historic collapse two weeks ago and get a win against the struggling Cleveland Browns. The Chargers were coming off a bye week and had time to make adjustments and get extra rest. Instead of a rebound, the Chargers crumbled in Cleveland and failed to score a touchdown in a 7-6 loss.

The loss drops the Chargers to 3-4 on the season and general manager A.J. Smith, head coach Norv Turner and quarterback Philip Rivers are now squarely on the hot seat.  The Chargers had a playoffs-or-bust mentality and are now below .500 after seven games.

The Chargers were expected to take fewer risks and the result was 24 carries for Ryan Mathews, but he also fumbled away good field position. When Rivers did go deep his receivers either dropped the ball or had no chance to win jump-ball situations.

The Browns held Antonio Gates to just two catches on 14 yards and Robert Meachem continues to be a disappointing free-agent acquisition. Meachem had no catches and dropped a long pass that had potential to turn into a big play. Ronnie Brown was San Diego’s best receiver; he caught seven short passes and turned them into 85 yards.

The only thing that kept the Chargers in the game was a defense that held the Browns to seven points. The Chargers allowed a Trent Richardson touchdown on the first drive, but would force nine consecutive punts thereafter. The defense did everything it could to give Rivers and the offense a chance to win the game by allowing the Browns to covert just four third downs.

Teams from the West coast don’t have a good track record of success traveling east and playing in the early game, but that’s hardly an excuse coming off a bye week. The Chargers continue to make their path to the playoffs more difficult by losing games they should win.

The decline of Rivers has certainly been a big problem for San Diego, and Turner has been unable or unwilling to adjust. The roster was built around the passing game in a passing league and it’s not getting the job done on a consistent basis. San Diego’s season has largely hinged on the play of Rivers.

The Chargers don’t have much time to figure out what went wrong as they have to turn around and play the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday. Thankfully the Chiefs are one of the worst teams in football, and the Chargers won the first game between the two teams this season in convincing fashion.