NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - INSIDE SLANT
The Chargers hope their visit to the Black Hole doesn't put them in one.
Whatever groovy sensation that was surrounding the Chargers after a 2-2 break from the gate got left behind in Oakland. The Raiders punched the Chargers around, taking a 27-17 verdict on Sunday night.
The Chargers not only lost a game, but a swagger they were building, which came from defeating the Cowboys the previous week. Feeling pretty good about themselves, the feeling around the Chargers was with the Raiders up next, the Colts at home and then a visit to Jacksonville, that the team was on the verge of an impressive roll.
But that scenario, and confidence, was lost somewhere en route to the East Bay as the Chargers were sleep-walking through the first half of this late-night affair, falling behind 17-0 and then spending the rest of the outing trying to catch up.
Five turnovers did the Chargers in, and coach Mike McCoy said the obvious.
"We have no excuses," he said.
No, instead it was lack of execution in ball security, containing Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor and shoddy tackling. Throw in a blocked field-goal attempt and a fumbled punt return and the Chargers, actually, were fortunate to be down by one score with five minutes to play.
"It was tough to go on the road and turn the ball over the way we did and win a football game on the road against a good team," McCoy said, as he was picking through the stats. "Too many big plays -- but it all starts with just executing the system that's in place. There was a lack of execution."
The Chargers, and maybe those tracking them, got ahead of themselves a tad. The expectations for this rebuilding team zoomed when it disposed of the Cowboys, a win that came with a dose of "just maybe."
As in, just maybe a team that is young on defense and void of many playmakers on the offensive side of the ball could make a run at a wild-card playoff berth.
Instead, reality arrived with a late-night, booty-kicking call by an AFC West rival, and don't forget, the Chargers next win against an AFC opponent will be their first.
They have bragging rights in the NFC East, with wins over the Eagles and Cowboys. But they've been bloodied by the Texans, Titans and now the Raiders.
"We've got a lot of work ahead of us," McCoy said, and for once he was being completely forthright. "But we just have to keep working."
They get an extra day to do just that with their next outing a week from Monday, against the surging Colts.
Just maybe, after getting bucked from their high horse by the Raiders, the Chargers will have their feet on the ground and their nose out of the air.
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - NOTES, QUOTES
--With the Raiders ahead 14-0, coach Mike McCoy decided to go for it with his team perched on the Oakland 1 on fourth down. QB Philip Rivers said the Raiders disguised a run blitz and were able to swarm Danny Woodhead on an inside handoff. "We had a run/pass check in there," McCoy said. "Unfortunately they went blitz zero on us, and they made a play. I'd do it again tomorrow."
--QB Philip Rivers threw for 411 yards and two scores, but with it coming in a loss, there weren't many smiles in the Chargers' locker room. But Rivers was upbeat about the play of two of his younger targets in Vincent Brown (eight catches for 117 yards) and Keenan Allen (six, 115, one touchdown) "Those two guys, it was great to see them play the way they played because we're going to need them to step up big like that the rest of the year," Rivers said.
--A black eye for the NFL and the Chargers could be on the horizon. The team has more than 10,000 tickets available for its next game, a "Monday Night Football" meeting against the Colts. The NFL isn't keen on having its Monday marquee game not shown in the local market, especially when that market includes Los Angeles. The Chargers had half of their eight home games blacked out last season. They needed an extension to sell enough tickets to show its opener against the Texans, which was also on Monday night.
NFL Team Report - San Diego Chargers - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--CB Derek Cox was to provide the Chargers' revamped secondary with a big heaping of experience. Instead he's been the poster child for buyer beware after coming to San Diego as a free agent in signing a $20 million, four-year deal. Cox continues to get beat, and that was true Sunday on two of the game's biggest plays. The first was a scoring strike to Rod Streater and the second was on a key first down in the fourth quarter, on which Brice Butler made his first NFL catch.
--OLB Larry English continues to be just a guy with the Chargers hoping for more. The former first-round pick is getting plenty of chances to erase his bust label, but he's not doing anything to warrant it. With Dwight Freeney out for the year and the team desperate for a pass rush, English had but two tackles against the Raiders and seldom, if ever, supplied decent pressure on the pocket.
--WR Keenan Allen had his best game of his career on Sunday with six catches for 115 yards, with a long of 30. Allen, a third-round pick, will see extended playing time going forward with Malcom Floyd on IR. Allen was uneven during the preseason, but has come on the last two weeks.
--CB Shareece Wright (hamstring) didn't play for the second straight game. He could try to practice this week.
--LG Chad Rinehart (foot) might have a chance of returning this week. But he has missed the last two games.
--LT King Dunlap (concussion) will be updated Wednesday.
--T Mike Harris (leg) will be updated Wednesday.
--OLB Jarret Johnson (hamstring) will be updated Wednesday.
--RB Ryan Mathews (concussion) will be updated Wednesday.
REPORT CARD VS. RAIDERS
PASSING OFFENSE: D- -- Philip Rivers proved he was human after a four-week stretch of games in which he played nearly flawless. But he turned the ball over with three interceptions that led to the Chargers defeat. The pass protection was spotty, not surprising with so many fresh faces along the line. There was a silver lining with WRs Vincent Brown and rookie Keenan Allen both speeding past the 100-yard receiving mark.
RUSHING OFFENSE: D-minus -- The running game was non-existent and that hurt the Chargers as they had to rely on the passing game, which led to turnovers. The Chargers had 32 rushing yards with Danny Woodhead leading the team with nine rushes for 13 yards. Ryan Mathews had but three carries for eight yards before leaving the game with a concussion.
PASS DEFENSE: D -- The secondary, which will enter Week 6 without an interception, continues to give up big plays at critical junctures. Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor threw for 221 yards, which isn't a huge amount but it was good for two touchdowns. And much of his passing yardage came at the end of scrambles as he continually broke containment. The Chargers got little consistent pressure on him; Jarret Johnson did have two sacks. But the back end is struggling and the front end doesn't have the horse power to lend a hand.
RUSH DEFENSE:D -- Rashad Jennings and Marcel Reese each averaged more than four yards a carry. But the guy doing the main damage was Pryor and he averaged but 2.8 yards a rush. Pryor extended many plays with his ability to rush around, and then occasionally, he tucked it for a key first down.
SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- A punt muffed, yet another field goal blocked -- second of the year. The showing wasn't keen from this group. The Chargers also gave up a 30-yard kickoff return. Eddie Royal had a 21-yard return, but he also fumbled. Danny Woodhead is now being asked to return kicks as well as be a big part of the running and passing game. His plate is getting a tad full.
COACHING: F - The Chargers weren't ready. Whatever that reason is almost isn't as important as that falls on the coaching staff to have them ready. But they were lackadaisical to start the game and never recovered. McCoy had some curious calls -- an inside handoff to Woodhead on a fourth-and-1 from the Oakland 1 is a good starting point. And defensive coordinator John Pagano continues to try and find the right mix for a defense that started the year long on promise but is being maddeningly inconsistent -- especially on pass defense. McCoy has to be careful not to lean too much on Woodhead, a change-of-pace weapon. But, to be fair, McCoy's options are dwindling with the numerous injuries hitting the Chargers.