Chargers Get Smacked In The Mouth By The Lowly Raiders

John C. PearsonContributor ISeptember 16, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers drops back to pass during their game against the Oakland Raiders on September 14, 2009 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. - Robert Burns

No truer statement can be made about the NFL

The Charger-Raider game was suppose to be a blow out; it was suppose to be a  complete domination by a team from So Cal with Super Bowl aspirations against a team from Nor Cal that is in total disarray.  And what happened?  The Super Bowl bound Chargers got smacked in the mouth by the lowly Raiders.  Though somehow, with a brilliant effort by Philip Rivers (more on this later), the Chargers stole the game and came away with a win.

Let’s just say my initial reaction during and right after the game was not positive.  But after thinking about it, a win is a win.  I firmly believe that the difference between the best guy in the NFL and the worst guy in the NFL is about ¼ step.  As they have said for 50 years – “On any given Sunday”.  Additionally, having lived in Northern California for most of my adult life, and attending many Raider Games, trust me when I say that the Oakland Coliseum is not an easy place to come into and play.   The crowd is hostile, it has the ghosts of the past great Oakland teams, and it is just plain intimidating.  So to win like they did, to persevere like they did with all the injuries, all in all, it turned out to be a good win. 

Now reality sinks in. 

The Chargers injuries that came from this game are very worrisome.  What is with LT? Suddenly he has turned into a piece of crystal.  The O-line was already thin (Kynan F – just kidding when we cut you, you can come back.  Ohhhhh that’s right, you signed with Jacksonville 2 minutes after the Chargers cut you – bummer.)  So now with Vasquez and Hardwick out, who is going to step in?  (Don’t believe the Turner BS – I believe they are hurt pretty bad.) I do have to say that Mruczkowski and Dombrowski did step in very nicely.  But this has to be a concern for the Chargers. 

I actually think the LT injury is not as bad as the O-line because of Michael Bennett.  I think MB will step up big time. 

On the defensive side, again the D-line was already thin. And now Castillo (another piece of crystal on the Chargers roster) and J Williams get hurt.  I hope Travis Johnson sure can step up.  And Vaugh Martin just went from a project to really needing him as well. 

I am still concerned about the pass rush. I will be until I see one.  Merriman is about 70% from what I can tell; it  looks like he is really dragging that leg.  The secondary was OK but they still cannot cover a tight end and the brain fart by Hart almost cost them the game.

Enough negativity.  I LOVE Philip Rivers.  I know, until he wins a Super Bowl, he can’t be mentioned in the same breath as Manning and Brady. But, all this guy does is win.  I am really pissed off at the East Coast press bias and how they wrote how wonderful Tom Brady was on Monday night.  Give me a break.  Sure Boy Wonder Brady took them down 80 yards to get within 4.  But he did not cause the fumble on the kick return. The New England Special Teams put it on a silver platter for him at the Buffalo 25.  Even Ryan Leaf could have taken them in from there.  But Rivers brought the Chargers from behind in the fourth quarter TWICE, in a hostile environment, (Brady’s “Miracle” was at home), two backup O-line men, and on drives of 77 and 89 yards.  Very impressive.

So what can we take from Week 1?

The Chargers are going to have to go find some more O-line men in the free agent market.

The pass rush needs to step it up - big time.

I think Hart is on thin ice and if Ellison can progress he might take over for Hart.

I think LT misses a few games, but I bet they don’t miss a beat (if the O-line can step up) with Bennett-Sproles combo.

Rivers is one of the top three QB’s in the league (with apologies to Rothlesberger, E Manning and yes even to Brees). Bring it on, but bring your data.

This week is going to be a very difficult game against the Ravens who have the same smash-mouth approach Oakland has adopted.  But hopefully the emotion of the Qualcomm crowd (me being one of them) the Chargers will find a way to pull this game out. 

If they do win on Sunday, it just may spring board them to the great season.

And those best laid plans may come to fruition for Charger Fans.