Not Living Up to the Hype: Why Have the San Diego Chargers Stumbled in '08?

Sam WilsonContributor INovember 21, 2008

The beginning of this year promised so much for the San Diego Chargers and Bolts fans everywhere, after an 11-5 season and a strong showing in the '07/'08 playoffs, the team seemed certain for another trip to the playoffs and much more.

But at just past the midway point this season commentators and fans alike are scratching they're heads and wondering what the hell has gone wrong. The Chargers now stand at 5-6 and a momentous task to reach the playoffs.

So what has changed in the San Diego camp? Well for a start injuries. Every team suffers injuries during the season, it's an accepted part of American Football, but the Chargers have lost a very significant piece to their puzzle, Shawne Merriman.

When the Pro Bowl Outside Linebacker was originally placed on the IR back in September, it seemed like a set back, but one which a team with such a pool of talented players could beat.

It seems, however, that the loss of Merriman has proved to be more significant than most thought, the San Diego defence, which seemed formidable last season, now ranks 14th against the rush and dead last against the pass, which in turn led to the sacking of former Defensive Coordinator Ted Cottrell.

But Rome wasn't built in a day, and although the Chargers' defence has seen signs of improvement, it still isn't a shadow of its former self.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, things haven't been going too great either. QB Philip Rivers has continued to grow into a great player and has had glimmers of brilliance as the season has progressed, but you get the feeling the San Diego really need to go shopping for a talented WR in the offseason.

Dont get me wrong I have been incredibly impressed by Vincent Jackson so far this season (seeing him make that TD catch at Wembley was one of my sporting highlights this year, despite the loss), but Chris Chambers has been hammered by niggling injuries and has completely failed to be a viable option for Rivers.

Malcolm Floyd has impressed in recent weeks and is on-course for a career high season, but there needs to be greater consistency in the position to maximise the offence.

Perhaps one of the most concerning aspects of the San Diego Offence is the performance of one LaDainian Tomlinson. L.T. is struggling this season so far only achieving 686 yards on the ground, which is poor for the Pro Bowl RB who hasn't done so badly since his rookie season.

Something has to give.

The remainder of the season is one that could go either way for the Chargers, either they will put together a winning streak to make the playoffs or they will slump to one of the poorest records in recent history. Down the stretch they have a pretty good lineup with six games left, four at home, and several of those against struggling opposition such as Oakland, Kansas, and Denver.

But the winning has to start this week against Peyton Manning and the Colts, and unless we see a W in the column for this week, I don't see the Chargers going to the playoffs, and I definitely don't see Norv Turner at the helm next season.