The Chargers have problems.
Their biggest problem is, they can't identify their biggest problem.
Which is not a good way to start looking for solutions.
On Sunday the Chargers lost at home to the Ravens 16-13 in overtime, falling to 4-7 on the season. As Yogi Berra said, it's deja-vu all over again. In 2011, in the game after Thanksgiving, the Chargers lost at home to the Broncos 16-13 in overtime, falling to 4-7 on the season.
The latest setback was the third time this season the Chargers have let a double-digit, second-half lead slip away.
For the Chargers, effort is not an issue. The work ethic of the roster and the coaches has never been questioned. It's not just the people who cover the team who see this. Folks around the NFL have taken notice. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, who's won a playoff game every year he's been in Baltimore (making two AFC Championship Game appearances) sees San Diego as a sleeping giant.
"I was talking to coach Harbaugh after the game," said Chargers linebacker Jarret Johnson, who spent the first 9 years of his career in Baltimore, "and he was just so complementary of our guys and our staff and how hard everybody plays. Our front seven and how physical they are and all the weapons we have on offense. Then he just kind of looked at me and the said, 'Man, I just don't know how you all are in this spot.' And I was like, hey, you ought to be in our locker room. It's very frustrating."
Chargers coach Norv Turner seems to believe his team's effort is what's keeping them in games in the first place.
"Right now we're not quite good enough to get over the hump and win them," said Turner Monday. "That's an excellent football team we played. In a number of areas, we were out manned in that game, and when we started losing players in the second half, we were considerably out manned. The activity and the energy and the enthusiasm and the competitiveness gave us a chance to win the game at the end."
The Chargers lost Eric Weddle (head), Atari Bigby (groin) and Donald Butler (groin) to injury. That means their three leading tacklers were not on the field when the Ravens drove for the game-tying and game-winning field goals.
Although he says he doesn't remember a small part of Sunday's game, Weddle's prognosis is good. On Monday he reported no lingering effects of the hit Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin laid on him (a hit coach Turner thought was a clip, and a helmet-to-helmet shot on a defenseless player). Bigby and Butler will need to be re-evaluated during the week.
Instead of their steady starters, the Chargers relied on backups Corey Lynch and Andrew Gachkar, with cornerback Marcus Gilchrist moving to safety for the first time since college.
While the Chargers are still not sure why they're not finishing games, they may have offered an inadvertent explanation when Johnson talked about his former team.
"They're not a pretty team, but they find ways to win games."
The Chargers, on the other hand, find ways to lose them. Now they just need to find out why.