Why The San Diego Chargers Don’t Look Good In Bikinis
“Statistics are like bikinis,” a pundit once remarked. “What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” Take the San Diego Chargers for instance. They have the No. 1 offense and the No. 2 defense in the NFL. Or maybe it’s the No. 1 defense and the No. 2 offense.
When you are sitting at 8-7, bounced out of the playoffs after getting torched by a 3-11 team, does it really matter?
I mean, does it?
Because that’s the suggestive part of it—the statistics I mean.
If the offense is that good, and the defense is that good, then what is the problem?
Well, for half of the season, we were told it was the special teams' fault. Like, who else could you really blame?
And when the special teams started playing better, the team did too. They won four in a row. They put a whooping on KC and San Francisco. Everyone said, “Here come the Chargers.”
But then, there was yesterday. I did something yesterday during a Chargers game that I haven’t done in ages. In years. I got up and left the room when the score was 34-13. And I wasn’t angry or even sad. I just left.
There was December 5 too, where the Chargers got their heads handed to them in a hand basket by rival Oakland, and finished up on the wrong end of an old fashion pistol whipping.
You couldn’t blame the special teams for that? And, if you still have those big statistics for the offense and defense, who do you blame?
The coaches? But if you blame the coaches, Norv Turner and Ron Rivera principally, what exactly are you blaming them for? For having the No. 2 offense and the No. 1 defense?
Ah, that’s the tricky part of the statistics, the bikini part of them.
So, maybe, just maybe, we need to look at the numbers differently, or maybe, look at some different numbers.
Like what, for instance?
Well, here’s a number for you. The Chargers defense might have given up the fewest yards, but they have not given up the fewest points. In fact, they are ninth or 10th in the league in allowing points. Which is still good, don’t get me wrong. But it’s far from tops.
And the defense has been vulnerable too. Specifically, they failed the team big time in at least three critical games—both games against the Raiders, and yesterday too.
Yesterday, they looked horrible. How horrible?
When Marvin Lewis gets called up on the carpet to discuss his job in a week or two, what do you think he’s going to say on his own behalf?
How about: “Did you see the Charger game, where we walloped the No. 1 defense and No. 2 offense in the league?”
What I wonder about the defense, specifically, is this: Why does the defense look better when Stephen Cooper is out there quarterbacking than when he is hurt and not playing? Who exactly is calling the shots out on the field then? Is it Weddle? Is he even tall enough to see what’s going on?
There are the turnover numbers too. What do they tell us? Well, for one thing, they tell us that in all seven of the Charger losses, they also lost the turnover battle. So basically, if you lose the turnover battle, you lose the game, right?
Wrong. The Chargers lost the turnover battle in the Tennessee, Houston and second Chiefs game and still won. They destroyed the Broncos in a game that was without turnovers.
Oh, those darn statistics. See what I mean about bikinis?
And here’s another statistic: The Chargers are 1-7 in games where they were trailing either at or near the beginning of the fourth quarter. Put another way, the only game that the Chargers actually won in the fourth quarter was against Houston. In every other instance where they trailed, AND HAD A CHANCE TO WIN, they failed.
Is there a stat for that? A stat for fourth quarter non-comebacks? And too, a dropped pass in the Tennessee game, where the Titans were marching to steal that game back, and the Chargers just might have been 1-8 during the fourth quarter teeter-totters.
But what does that tell us anyway? Does it speak to stamina issues? Running out of gas in the fourth quarter? Too much partying on Friday nights? Are the Chargers just that beaten down by the fourth quarter? Or does it speak to character issues? The ability to dig down deep and drive down the field for a game winning score? Or making a sack on a key third and ten? Or both?
Is that what it is? Are the Chargers 8-7 because they don’t enough heart? They can’t just dig down deep enough and find that one bit of something it takes make a spectacular catch or play late in the game?
How many of those Kodachrome fourth quarter moments do you remember from this year?
So, maybe that’s it then. That undefined thing—that je ne sais quoi. The Chargers have egg all over their faces because they didn’t want it bad enough. They did not huddle up and say,” Okay. Whatever it takes.”
They didn’t. Or maybe they didn’t.
I don’t know.
But one thing I do know for sure is that I am tired of hearing about the number one defense and the number two offense. That’s a bikini I’m sick of looking at.