Forget the 11 game win streak, the Pro Bowl nominations, the home field advantage, and the number two seed in the AFC playoffs. When it counts, and the game is on the line, the Chargers choked, yet again, 17-14 against the upstart New York Jets.
This is typical of the Chargers. They were in the same situation in 2005 against the New England Patriots. They had a great opportunity to win at home and they lost. This year's team was different only in personnel.
They started off the year slowly, then went on a huge winning streak at the end of the regular season. But the Chargers choked in the post season yet again, and they have the New York Jets to thank for that.
As was the case at home against the Patriots in 2005, the offense stalled. The Chargers got to this point of the season throwing on first and second down. Yet they were running on those plays during their game against the Jets.
They played soft throughout the whole game. To be fair, so did the Jets. New York did not do anything other than what Head Coach Rex Ryan said they would do. They ran the ball and kept the Chargers offense of the field. The Jet defense kept them in the game just enough for the running game to get on track.
The first sign that things were going wrong for the Chargers was when its All-Pro kicker Nate Kaeding missed his first two field goals. The look on his face told the whole story. His confidence was gone right after he missed the first kick. You do not want that out of your All-Pro kicker.
Secondly, the offensive line was getting blown up at the snap. Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers had no time to pass in the second half as he did in the first half. The Jets blitzed almost every down in the second half and the Chargers were mediocre at picking up the blitz.
The lack of a running game finally caught up to the Chargers. Darren Sproles is a multi purpose scatback but does not put fear in an opposing defense. LaDainian Tomlinson gave an interview and stated," the team doesn't need me to run the ball like I used to." He should have said that he can't run like he used to because his body has been beat up from years of wear and tear.
But as a head coach, he is mediocre. He has proven that yet again with the Chargers.
He was brought in to get a team that was coming off a 14-2 season over the hump. Personally, I thought this was a bad move from A.J Spanos because of Turner's track record. His best season as a head coach was 8-8.
He proved his worth this game playing conservative football. He was a yard away from a first down and instead opted to kick a field goal with a shaken kicker. He asked his defense to protect a lead that they couldn't once the Jets running game got on track.
Turner is also responsible for the team not being disciplined. The Chargers had five personal fouls from head butting a player to kicking the challenge flag. Unnecessary penalties like those hurt the Bolts.
This in fact is the end of the Chargers as we know them. Expect changes to be made in the off season. Turner had the most talent he has ever had as a head coach and still can not get anything out of them. Merriman will not be around next season either. His production has dropped of considerably. Kaeding sealed his fate with another playoff choke.
The only familiar Chargers could be Rivers, Sproles, and Shaun Phillips.
The Chargers have a great regular season team but when they reach the post season, they turn into the San Diego Chokers.