Sitting back listening to ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer talk about Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers during the first half of their 31-28 collapse to the Houston Texans last night on Monday Night Football, one would think the Bolts had moved away from the woes of the past two seasons living up to the so-called “re-tooling” quote.
The offense moved the football consistently through a combination of runs and short passes. They had the Texans defense confused and off balance through the first 35 minutes. Though the offensive line looked shaky, they gave Rivers just enough time to find his receivers and open holes for Ryan Mathews and Ronnie Brown. Rivers spread the ball around finding multiple receivers from Eddie Royal’s two touchdowns to Vincent Brown’s superb effort reaching for the pylons just before the half.
On defense, they made the big play when they needed too. Whether it was the fourth down stop on running-back Arian Foster or the interception on first play of the game, the Charger defense bent but did not break.
However, as this team has repeatedly shown the last two years, they have become a parody of Charles Dickens Tales of Two Cities. Instead, the start of the San Diego Chargers 2013 campaign should be entitled a Tale of Two Teams. What happened to the Chargers in the second half of the game? How can an offense, so dominant in the first half, disappear so quickly?
To take nothing away from the Houston Texans, Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips made the necessary adjustments in that second half that slowed down the Charger’s offense. He moved Pro Bowler defensive tackle J.J Watt all over the line and used different blitz packages that finally broke the offensive line. Rivers rushed his throws and the running game became a phantom from a Scooby-Doo cartoon.
Outside of the costly penalty by defensive lineman Cam Thomas and the secondary’s inability to stop the Texans on third and infinity, the defense provided a gutty performance. With the offense going three and out for almost the entire second half, they spent the entire time on the field. Yet, they proved they lacked a consistent pass rusher outside of Dwight Freeney and cannot cover a receiver past three seconds.
But the biggest problem was the Charger coaching staff. Head Coach Mike McCoy looked lost in the second half. It appeared McCoy and Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt did not make any adjustments to counter the ones by the Texans. Rivers returned to his old form Charger fans have grown familiar with the past couple of seasons. Linebacker Brian Cushing’s pick six to tie the game up in the fourth quarter has become a staple of Rivers inconsistencies and the continue digression of this Chargers team.
Though it is only the first game, it appears it is going to a long season for fans. The Chargers do not have a favorable schedule, and with team traveling to Philadelphia to play a revamped Eagles team in Week 2, the defense is in for a long day. The team needs to find a way to play the full sixty minute because their antics on the field are starting to resemble a bad rerun.
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