I have never been so dissatisfied with a team's performance as I was last night in the San Diego Chargers loss against the NY Jets. Granted, I live in NYC and have been a passive Jets fan for a few years now, I had the Chargers winning the Super Bowl this year and picked them to win yesterday 21-10.
Take back the third quarter Rivers' interception converted into a Jets touchdown and Kaeding making 2 out of his 3 missed field goals, Chargers win 20-10. So much for performing as expected.
I am not a fan of any team, however, I am a fan of the NFL in general and its overall competitiveness. I believed that Philip Rivers had what it took to be a champion. I wanted to believe Norv Turner could lead his team to a championship too, looking beyond previous end-of-game transgressions, smirks, and sideways grins in defeat.
Rivers always appeared to have that confidence and the ability to lead his team down the stretch. I even wrote an article preseason on the very subject . I predicted this would be THE year for the Chargers.
The line on the Chargers? Look no further than the penalties for a glimpse at this team's readiness to play.
Penalties: Four false starts, one delay of game, one unsportsmanlike, two unnecessary roughness.
Unacceptable Charger Observations (to name just a few)
- Why does/did it always seem as if the Chargers had difficulty getting the play in on time? Rivers constantly looking over to the sidelines in confusion as if he didn't know what was going on? Haven't the Chargers been doing this long enough to have a better sense of the play calls in advance?
- Vincent Jackson smirking and winking after kicking the challenge flag in the fourth quarter and being assessed a 15-yard penalty.
- Shaun Phillips head-butting late in the third quarter near his own goal line after Jets interception, putting Jets into a seven-yard pass play away from a go-ahead touchdown.
- Rivers passing underneath 3rd-and-5 in the fourth quarter, only to get three yards and a failed 40-yard field goal attempt by a kicker with the "yips."
- Turner electing to kicking it on-sides with two minutes remaining down by three. The final nail in the coffin. I understand that Turner had lost confidence in his kicker, hence the on-side kick, but the decision still makes no sense. The Chargers limited their options and gave the Jets the opportunity to close the game out because of field position.
- I won't get into the Kaeding situation because it's just too weird. I do object to Turner having Kaeding attempt a 57-yard field goal after missing the 36-yard attempt earlier in the game.
All said and done, the Chargers played poorly down the stretch, which points to overall team character, discipline, attitude, and coaching. I remember last season as Norv and Philip shared a good chuckle on the sideline as the Steelers were about to finish them off in the playoffs and finding it a bit odd. I said to myself, "These guys don't seem to mind losing the game that much, or they are just really even-keeled, or maybe they are just plain cocky."
Whatever the case may be, we saw more of the same yesterday. Jackson grinning and winking after a huge, stupid penalty against him, Norv simply stating that his team didn't play it's best game, and Philip standing at the podium confessing that his team "just didn't make enough plays."
Well, I guess that's it until next season. I don't sense much accountability on the Chargers' part in defeat. My guess is that a big attitude adjustment is in order.
No more Big Ben comparisons for you, Philip. A Drew Bledsoe comparison may be more appropriate at this time.