In 2011, the Chargers started 4 and 1, but it was what you could call an "ugly" 4 and 1. The wins came over teams that were struggling, outright bad or not starting Tim Tebow yet. The margin of victory for all 4 wins combined was 25 points. This year's season opener was more of the same.
Head Coach Norv Turner said, "I thought the Raider game was a lot like 2 or 3 of the wins we had early in the year." Translation: Another slug-it-out, not terribly convincing win. Then came Sunday's home opener. "I thought this was different," said Turner. It was extremely different. The Chargers blasted Tennessee, winning by 28 points.
"I thought the game went, yesterday, if you were to lay it out, it couldn't have gone much better. We are playing better at this point in the year than maybe we have in years passed," stated quarterback Philip Rivers.
It's just the 2nd time under Norv Turner that the Chargers have won a September game by 20 or more points. In December, they've won by 20 or more, 10 times.
But, just when you think the frantic finishers have stopped being slow starters, they throw up a reality check. Rivers said, "We still have a number of issues that we have to handle. You watch the tape, you still see a lot of areas we can keep getting better. That game wasn't anywhere near as clean as I'd like it to be."
For example, Robert Meachem would have caught a long touchdown pass, if only one little thing had not gone awry. "On about the 4th play of the game, he's running about as open as you can be, and Tyronne Green pulled and overshot his guy. He was surprised at how flat the defensive end was, and Philip had to run out. If the protection's clean I think Robert would have had a 50-yard touchdown there," stated Turner.
Historically, the Chargers have cleaned up those problems by mid-November. If they truly are ahead of schedule this season the playoffs are all but guaranteed.