The Chargers Are Who We Thought They Were

John C. PearsonContributor IOctober 7, 2009

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 4:  Running back Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs the ball in the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Heinz Field on October 4, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)


“They are who they thought they were!!!”  - Arizona’s Dennis Green’s tirade describing the Bears following his team’s fourth quarter collapse to them on MNF in 2006.

In order for NFL teams to be successful, they must be strong in the trenches and up the middle.  When the Chargers lost center Nick Hardwick on one side of the interior line, and their all pro mountain of a NT Jamaal Williams on the defensive side of the ball, I thought the Chargers may be in for a long season. With no defensive line to stop the run, with a battered offensive line to run offensively, this team just does not have the horses to compete. We all sort of knew it, but it was ultimately proven Sunday night against the Steelers.  

The Sunday night game in Pittsburgh, where the Chargers are now 0-14 in regular season, was an old fashioned country “butt whuppin”.  Disregard that comeback effort by the Chargers.  Pittsburgh could have scored anytime they wanted to against the Chargers.  The Steelers looked vulnerable going into the game at 1-2, having some key injuries, and not being able to finish games. But they took that assessment as a questioning of their manhood and they took it out on the Chargers on Sunday night.  Pittsburgh did what championship teams do – they stepped up.

It was proven again on Sunday Night that the Chargers cannot stop the run.  Like in baseball, if you can’t hit a curve that is all you will see until you can hit it.  Teams are going to rush the ball down the Chargers throats until they prove they can stop the run.

In terms of rushing the ball themselves, the Chargers rushed for 16 total yards all night long.  LT use to get that in the opening series of a game. I understand they were down 28 to 0 at one point. But they were only down 14 – 0 with 2 minutes to go in the first half.  The Chargers had time to establish the run – they just never did. And now teams will start to play back for the pass and make the Chargers prove they can run the ball.  It is looking like the Chargers can’t hit the curve or the slider. 

It was fun watching Ron Rivera rip into the defense, to show some emotion we have not seen from this coaching staff over the past three years. But as my friend Don said, it was like yelling at a bunch of 7th graders for getting their butts whipped by the varsity high school team.  The Chargers are just not talented enough to be successful in the NFL.  And this was exasperated on Sunday night as players, who are getting beaten bad, start to take chances and not playing their position to try to make a play.  In the NFL, if you do not stay in your scheme, you are going to get murdered.  It was a double whammy for the Chargers.  They were out manned by the Steelers and they played an extremely poor mental game on the defensive side of the ball.  The result was almost 500 yards by the Steelers.

Back in August nobody would be surprised that the Chargers would be 2-2 at this point losing to Baltimore and to Pittsburgh.  What is disturbing is how they are losing (and barely beating some lesser teams).  I know some of the San Diego media pundits are telling us not to panic, that this was just one game, to remember how we felt the past three seasons when the Chargers got off to a slow start and ended strong.  But this feels different this time.  The Chargers are missing the talent and strength they need in the middle of both lines and, Denver is for real with that defense.

The tough part of the schedule is behind the Chargers, the 5 of the next 7 games are against the AFC West, and Denver has a murderous schedule over the next month.  Somehow the Chargers might be able to find a way to still win the AFC West.  But the goal is to win the Lombardy trophy and this Charger team is not talented enough to compete with the elite teams in the NFL.

For the past three years the talk was about the Chargers having the most talent in the NFL and that AJ Smith had done a fantastic job of locking them up for a number of years.  However, we all knew that the window for this set of players on this team would be closing soon.  Guess what?