It’s Sink or Swim for Chargers

Running back Ryan Mathews (24) will be counted on to shoulder the rushing load this season. Photo Credit: Michael Zito/News4usonline.com
Running back Ryan Mathews (24) needs to be counted on to shoulder the rushing load this season. Photo Credit: Michael Zito/News4usonline.com

In the National Football League, you are who you are. After nine games of the 2014 season, the San Diego Chargers are who they are. The Chargers looked like world beaters when busted up the Super Bowl Champs Seattle Seahawks with a 30-21 win in the second game of the season.

After posting a 5-1 mark, one could make a strong argument that the Chargers looked potentially like a possible Super Bowl contender. Then the bottom fell out. Three defeats in a row, including a 37-0 beatdown at the hands of the Miami Dolphins, left the Chargers staggering into their bye week with a whole of questions as they prepare for the half of the season.

The Chargers are now a lot more closer to mediocrity than they are to being the Alpha Dog in the rough and tough AFC West.

Kendall Reyes #91 of the Chargers during the game. The Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Diego Chargers by the final score of 31-10 in a preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego CA. Photo: Kevin Reece/News4usonline.com
Kendall Reyes #91 of the Chargers during the game. The Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Diego Chargers by the final score of 31-10 in a preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego CA. Photo: Kevin Reece/News4usonline.com

And that’s true talk. The path to the postseason won’t get any easier for the Chargers, now sitting in third place in the AFC, behind-you guessed it-Denver and Kansas City. After fiddling around with the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams, the Chargers then will have to mount up and play Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, Colin Kapernick and the San Francisco 49ers, before ending the season at Kansas City.

Good night, and good luck.

With that kind of schedule looming, the Chargers have very little room for error in order to make the playoffs. At the very least, the Chargers probably can only afford more two losses to have some say about the postseason. But in order to do that, they’ll need to be healthy and get more productivity on both sides of the ball. Getting plastered 37-0 on the road is not a positive note going into the bye week.

The good thing for the Chargers is that they had a bye week to regroup and re-focus on getting their act together. Despite the three-game losing streak, the Chargers have a couple things on their side that gives the team promise of a postseason dance. Tight end Antonio Gates continues to play like he is 25.

Quarterback Philip Rivers, despite passing for just 136 yards against Miami, is on pace to break his own franchise record in touchdown passes in a season. However, throwing for less than a buck 50 against the Broncos, Chiefs, 49ers and/or the Ravens won’t get it done for the Chargers and their postseason aspirations. The real concern, though, is running game. The Chargers are now ranked 28th out of 32 teams in rushing statistics at the midway point of the season.

If this area doesn’t get fixed real soon the postseason will just be another nice dream to have. Less yardage on the ground only means more pressure being amped up by Chargers’ opponents on Rivers. A healthy Ryan Mathews would help solve this issue.

For now the Chargers need to have a State of the Team address. If that doesn’t help, maybe getting at it against two other sub-par teams the first two games back might do the trick.  Sitting one game above .500 with a 5-4 record and extended a by week reprieve after being embarrassed by the Fins, San Diego will have a go at it against the Oakland Raiders the first week they are back in action.

It’s one thing to look awesome against a heavily undermanned New York Jets team, but it’s another story going up against the likes of a rugged Kansas City Chiefs squad and the Denver Broncos, both of whom racked up victories against the Chargers.

Eddie Royal (11) and the high-flying Chargers offensive core of wide receivers and tight ends could prove to be unstoppable come December and January. Photo Credit: Kevin Reece/News4usonline.com
Eddie Royal (11) and the high-flying Chargers offensive core of wide receivers and tight ends could prove to be unstoppable come December and January. Photo Credit: Kevin Reece/News4usonline.com

That’s not a gimme game, especially when you consider the rivalry between the two team, and the fact that the Chargers struggled to put the Silver & Black away in their meeting in Oakland.The Rams can rough you up, defensively. Then comes the Big Boys of the AFC. We’ll know in the next few weeks whether the Chargers can get through their abbreviated spiral of defeats to get into the playoff hunt. For now, it is sink or swim.

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1151 Articles

Dennis covers the NFL (Chargers), NBA (Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers), Major League Baseball (Los Angeles Dodgers) and NCAA sports (USC, UCLA, Long Beach State). Dennis has also covered and written on topics such as civil rights, politics and social justice. Dennis is a proud alum of Howard University.