I must give Norv Turner and A.J. Smith credit. This week they finally took responsibility for their team's 2-4 start. Both men uncharacteristically said it was on them. But we're still struggling to figure out exactly what "it" is, and I don't think Zac Brown Band can explain it.
In the previous three the team played well in just about every area except one (special teams, ball security, etc.). But in St. Louis they played poorly in just about every area except ... well, OK, every area. Afterwards I asked a few players what they had to do to play better. The most common answer was "We need to look at the tape."
I could have told them what's on the tape, long before I looked at it. A complete inability to adjust to the Rams' blitz scheme. A complete inability to convert on 3rd down to sustain drives. A complete inability to get off the field on 3rd down, especially at the end of the game when Steven Jackson ran for 9 yards on 3rd and 7 to seal the win.
Philip Rivers even said the loss felt different than the others. After the previous defeats there was a sense of optimism because they really were the better team, they just failed to execute in a couple of areas. After this one they weren't the better team. Seeing as how St. Louis had 3 wins in the previous 2 seasons, that's downright scary.
This week the resurgent Patriots come to town. Antonio Gates is expected to play with a toe strain, but Malcom Floyd will be out and we don't know how Legedu Naanee's health is (although he said after Sunday's game he felt like he'd be back against New England). So, the Chargers' number one wideout could be Patrick Crayton. He's played well but has only been with the team for six weeks. So the Chargers are going to have to run the ball.
They keep saying they want to get Ryan Mathews more carries. In the few times he's touched the ball he's shown explosiveness. Problem is, in their four losses the Chargers have trailed by double digits before scoring a single point. When you're playing catchup it's very hard to take the time to commit to the run. Therefore, the secret for Sunday is : don't fall behind early, start grinding things out on the ground and knock Tom Brady down as often as you possibly can. Anything less will be a 2-5 record and unbridled panic in Charger Nation.