The biggest reason for the San Diego Chargers recent playoff failures is from a lack of poise and it all starts with the head coach. With Norv Turner, it seems that it is only a matter of time before the Chargers are able to bring their regular season swagger into the post season. While the fan base was losing their minds (including me) and calling for Norv and Ted Cottrell's head, Norv never panicked and the team responded.
Right before the start of the second half a fired up (Titans coach) Jeff Fisher told his team the Chargers were panicking on their sideline and there was nothing but an (butt) kicking waiting for the Bolts on the Titans sideline. He was a year too late on that assessment, because the Chargers stormed out and easily disposed of the Titans. The even keeled Norv led the Chargers in a mistake free way that the sometimes reckless Schottenheimer (but beloved) never did.
Yes, the Chargers held together pretty well against the Tennessee Titans, but the Titans are not the established/absolute force that the Indianapolis Colts are.
San Diego imploded while staring a victory in the face against a completely overmatched New England Patriots team that had no business being within 14 points of the Bolts in last season’s Divisional Round debacle. From Marty Schottenheimer going for it on 4th and 11 in a scoreless first quarter (leading directly to 3 New England points), to Eric Parkers numerous/uncharacteristic bungles, on to Marlon McCree’s fourth quarter fumble, and back to Marty’s ridiculous challenge of McCree’s fumble, the Chargers lost the concentration and focus. Completely and utterly, it was just a debacle. Debacle is the only word for it.
The game was too big for the Chargers last season and that is the bottom line. The Chargers may have had far superior talent, but they weren’t championship caliber talent like the Colts and Patriots.
The Indianapolis Colts showed tremendous poise the following week in coming back from 21 – 3 disastrous beginning to defeat the, once again, overmatched Patriots. When that happens, you know you can forget the Colts beating themselves again. Their core players have years of playoff experience.
The Chargers once again have far superior talent to any team in the league, but they sure as hell aren’t championship caliber like the Colts and Patriots. The Chargers basically have an all-star team, but that is NOT enough. Back in the day, the NFL All-Stars would take on the NFL Championship Team and ALWAYS get their butts kicked. The Chargers have to show the same poise as they did when they took apart the Titans in the second half of last Sunday’s Wild Card battle. That’s going to be tough, but they have already come close to winning in the Division Round once. It can be done.
Teams that win in the playoffs make the same plays that they did during the regular season and don’t make uncharacteristic mistakes. The Chargers turned the ball over four times in last year’s battle against the Patriots, almost a third of their season total! Some teams enter the playoffs and get it done one their first try, most take a couple of years.
It took the Colts years to achieve that success after several Peyton Manning meltdowns. Hell, Manning melted down last in last season’s playoffs, but the talent gap between themselves, the Ravens, and the Patriots was so great that it didn’t matter. They’ve won the championship now, so fat chance of Manning melting down again. The gorilla is off his back and the elephant has left the room. It’s going to be a loose, poised Manning in this one.
Regardless of how this game turns out, the winner may be in trouble. The Patriots have now combined championship poise with ludicrous talent at the wide receiver position. If the Chargers can get by the Colts and have to play the Patriots… Whoa Nellie… They’re going to have to take it to another level to win.
The Jaguars present a completely different problem.