Bolts Offense Must Keep Pace With Eagles
By Andrew Burer
Last Monday night, an evening as important as any in the Chargers last few seasons, was a polarizing reminder of how great this team can be, but yet another reality-check of its many limitations.
And what a way to make it happen.
Philip Rivers and Co. showed up ready to play from the start. On the Texans’ first possession, Matt Schaub's pass was deflected by Jarret Johnson and intercepted by Cam Thomas. The next play, Philip Rivers found Ryan Mathews on a fade route in the end zone. The team was jacked, the crowd was revved, and victory seemed inevitable.
Until, yet again, another second-half collapse.
After building a commanding 28-7 lead in the third quarter, the Texans began to claw their way back. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, a questionable penalty was called on Cam Thomas on a Texans’ field goal attempt. Houston received a first down and never looked back, scoring on the next play en route to a 31-28 come-from-behind victory.
“You’ve got to finish,” said head coach Mike McCoy. “We played a very good Houston Texans team. And they deserve a lot of credit for what they did being down 28-7 and coming back, but we’ve got to finish. We had every opportunity in the world to finish that game. We didn’t do it... We’re learning from it and moving on.”
We’ve heard this before.
The loss, particularly because of how it played out, is another reminder that this team still has a long way to go. If you didn’t know any better, you’d have thought this was Norv Turner’s team. You know, the same team that blew five halftime leads just a season ago.
But this reality is it’s not and it’s too early to throw in the towel on the Bolts.
The Chargers have another difficult test Sunday when they take on the Eagles in Philadelphia. The early start time (10 a.m. PST) and travel will likely make it even more difficult for McCoy to achieve his first regular season victory as the Chargers head coach.
But that’s the least of McCoy’s worries. New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has installed his fast-paced offense, and has the perfect trio in Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, and DeSean Jackson to run it.
“It’s going to take all 11,” said defensive coordinator John Pagano when asked about the Eagles’ offense. “You can’t sleep on them. They might go run, run, run and then hit those big plays with their vertical passing game. They are so explosive on the offensive personnel side that it makes it a challenge for us.”
The real challenge actually lies with the Chargers offense. As evident from the Texans game, without the offense moving the ball and eating the clock, the defense wore down in the second half. San Diego’s offense managed just 13 snaps in its last five possessions, a trend they must reverse in order to keep pace with the Eagles up-tempo offense.
“We finished last week with four three-and-outs and a pick for a touchdown,” said Philip Rivers. “If we do that this week it won’t be good. It’s never good. It’s key that if we don’t end the drive with points that we at least get a few first downs before we punt… but I don’t know if there will be a time in this game where you don’t want to go out there, score and keep scoring because of how fast they play offensively. No lead is ever safe.”