5 Things We Learned from San Diego's 16-13 Loss to Denver

Michael CallahamContributor IINovember 28, 2011

5 Things We Learned from San Diego's 16-13 Loss to Denver

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    San Diego lost their sixth game in a row this week against the red-hot Broncos, who've now won four straight. Led by fan-favorite Tim Tebow, Denver played just well enough to squeak out a win, on the road, in overtime against what looked like a frustrated and beleaguered Chargers team.

    Broncos' head coach, John Fox, has done an exceptional job of making use of the talent he has and keeping opposing defenses guessing.

    Norv Turner, on the other hand, was as predictably predictable, and as usual, seemed  more concerned with not losing than he was with winning. 

    And while there were few positives to take out of the game for San Diego, Chargers fans take comfort in one thing—Turner can be no more than one more loss away from being asked to clear out his desk.

Fox > Turner

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    Forget about tossing away the final minutes of both halves—again—are you really trying to win when you run off tackle on 2nd-and-23?

    Turner would argue that the penalty called on the play in question gave the Chargers a first down. If not for this fundamental flaw in Turner's logic, he might have been a decent NFL head coach. In any case, we'll never know, because Turner's stubborn adherence to an ineffective system has sealed his fate in San Diego.  

    His refusal to accept any responsibility for the team's struggles, consistently throwing his players under the bus after each and every loss is all anyone needs to know about the man's ability to lead.

    Why Turner can't learn from what coaches like John Fox have been able to accomplish with far, far less to work with, talent-wise, defies explanation. Fox has Denver on a tear with what is effectively a running back starting at quarterback, and no more than two or three players on either side of the football worth even mentioning.

    That's because instead of deflecting blame and making excuses, rather than resigning himself to the idea that “were just not that good,” Fox is focused on finding creative ways to win games with the players he has. Denver is a bad team right now, and anyone that thinks differently is either a Broncos fan—or simply delusional.

    The Chargers have the personnel, even with all of the injuries, what they don't have is a head coach.

Manusky Also Out-Foxed

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    Sooner or later, the league is going to adjust to Denver's option offense at which point it will be shelved, forcing Fox to devise other ways of putting his team in position to win games.

    Even 180 minutes of game film was not enough to help Manusky and company devise a method of shutting Fox's option offense down, though.

    The Chargers were able to do little more than slow Tebow down by stacking the line of scrimmage and daring the rookie quarterback beat them through the air. Problem is, the worst quarterbacks in the league will tear you apart given that much time in the pocket.

    Manusky, though, failed to adjust after it was clear that a four-man rush was not getting the job done. And while the return of Shaun Philips clearly helped the defense, in the end, it wasn't enough when it counted.

Jackson Takes the Day Off—Brown Continues To Show Promise

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    Rookie receiver Vincent Brown continued to show flashes of why the Chargers drafted him on Sunday against the Broncos. Brown showed excellent route-running skills, soft hands and looked much bigger on the field than his 5'11", 190lb-frame suggests. Patrick Crayton's days as a Charger are officially numbered as Brown looks as though he could start in the slot or on the outside opposite Jackson.

    After a huge game last week, the other Vincent demonstrated why the Chargers might be reluctant to make him one of the highest-paid receivers in the league next year. Jackson is a great player but still takes too much time off to be considered elite at this stage in his career.

    The fact that he's kept his mouth shut and his nose clean all season long bodes well for Jackson, though. The Chargers may be inclined to give him a long-term deal, provided Jackson comes down from the $100 million contract he wants.

Ryan Mathews Proves He Can Tote the Rock

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    Any questions left about whether or not second-year running back Ryan Mathews was worth the price of admission were answered against the Broncos on Sunday. The second-year pro had a career day turning out 137 yards on 22 carries averaging over six yards per carry.

    Mathews represents the fifth star-caliber running back in a row selected by San Diego behind LaDainian Tomlinson, Michael Turner, Darren Sproles and Mike Tolbert.

    He has 1,100 all-purpose yards so far this season and is well on pace to go for 1000 yards for the Chargers this season.

Tebow's Legs Can Only Take Denver So Far

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    The idea of a quarterback with the legs of Barry Sanders and the arm of Dan Marino is an awesome proposition—one that has captivated the imagination of NFL fans for years. If we've learned anything by now, though, it's that it takes more than a strong arm and quick feet to play quarterback in the NFL.

    Through the years, players like Mike Vick, Vince Young, Randall Cunningham and others have promised to revolutionize the NFL game with their freakish physical ability and untapped potential.

    Despite this fact, though, the NFL's best quarterbacks have proven to be the pure pocket passers like Tom Brady, Payton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, time and again. 

    Not that a good pocket presence and quick feet aren't a terrific advantage, but when your first completion of the day doesn't come until the four-minute mark of the second quarter, you're not a true NFL quarterback. Without the ability to read the defense, set your feet in the pocket, go through the reads and deliver the football accurately and consistently, you're just a running back playing QB.

    Great quarterbacks would be dime a dozen if all it took was a strong arm. But the reason there never seem to be more than 10-12 great quarterbacks in the league at any given time is because it takes much more than physical talent to be successful in the NFL.

    Sooner or later, quite possibly next week, Tebow will be asked to play quarterback, and from the looks of it, he's got a ways to go before he can be expected to pull it off.