Since we’re only discussing sub .500 teams at this point in the NFL, my guess would have to be the San Diego Chargers. From a talent standpoint, they rank 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Too bad they don’t hand out Lombardi trophies for talent. If they did, we’d have the San Diego Chargers vs. the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl 43. Of course, since the game would have to be played, there’d probably be 25 fouls committed between both teams, at least 4 turnovers, poor defense and inconsistent offensive play. But back to my main topic, here are some reasons why I think San Diego will make a late season playoff push even if they lose this weekend to the New Orleans Saints in London.
1st off, 80% of the league is average. This is what parity has done to the game. 2nd, as amazing as this sounds, 75% of head coaches out there are actually on equal footing with Norv Turner, which is not a strong endorsement for league coaching. 3rd, the Bolts have one of the easiest remaining schedules left of any team. In division play alone, they still have two games against Kansas City and one vs Oakland and Denver, both in San Diego, so right there are four you can chalk up in the ‘W’ column.
For San Diego to get back on track however, they need to get the running game corrected. No, Tomlinson has not aged to the point where he’s no longer an effective runner; Turner’s scheme isn’t getting the job done. Without being able to run, San Diego will continue to be put into poor 3rd down passing situations against good teams and this will keep the offense underachieving.
Defensively, they need to fire their coordinator, Ted Cottrell. In fact, what they’re waiting for is anyone’s guess. This man is afraid to bring pressure at opposing quarterbacks and this makes the secondary vulnerable against the pass. Quarterbacks who have all day to throw = high completion %-ages, which = sustained drives that result in a lot of scores. For the Bolts to get back to being one of the best defenses in football, they need to bring pressure; otherwise, all the money they’ve spent on that side of the ball will go to waste.
So as you watch the rest of the season play out, look for two things: whether Tomlinson is able to run the ball consistently (4 yards/carry) and if the defense gets to the QB – either by way of quarterback hurries or sacks. If this happens, instead of going down as one of the biggest busts of 2008, they’ll have a good shot at becoming one of the major contenders in January. Only time will tell.