Here are five lessons we learned from Sunday’s 28-20 loss to the Denver Broncos.
Red Zone Struggles Still Exist– The Bolts converted on their final two red zone appearances of the game as Danny Woodhead
and Ryan Mathews
both hit pay dirt but unfortunately, the Chargers failed to get into the end zone on their first two drives of the first half, settling instead for field goals. Heading into the game, the team hammered home the importance of getting seven points, not three, against the Denver Broncos. By coming away with six points instead of 14, the team found itself in a 28-6 hole in the second half that was too wide a margin to overcome. Head Coach Mike McCoy lamented this fact after the game:
“Unfortunately, offensively, early on there we weren’t able to get touchdowns. We had three field goal attempts there. But against a good team like this you have to finish drives with touchdowns in the red area. That was something we did not do a good job of early in the game… You look at the three opportunities, and you get six points. They scored 28. If you score three touchdowns, that’s 21. As you go along, that’s critical. You’ve got to finish for touchdowns. But there are certain situations where you wish you could go back.”
2. “We’re Going to Make Changes”– Yes, there were a number of positives, but losing two in a row is unacceptable for this Chargers team. There were too many mistakes on both offense and defense, especially early, including untimely penalties, missed assignments and missed field goals. The Chargers made in-game adjustments as the game went along that turned the tide to some degree, but it was too little too late. Thus, McCoy had this to say after the game:
"We’re going to do what we think is best. It’s the same thing we said last week. We’re going to do whatever we think is best as the game goes along. We’re going to make changes on offense. We’re going to make changes on defense. We’re going to make changes on the kicking game. And the coaches have a decision to make as we go along and that’s what we’re going to do.
3. Faster Start– The defense held the top offense in the NFL scoreless over the final 26:34 of the game. While that’s certainly a positive the team can build off of, the team spotted the Broncos 28 points due mainly to a lack of mental and physical mistakes. According to Shareece Wright, if the team starts the way they finished, they’re a completely different team:
“We’ve seen that we can beat them. We just can’t start the way we started. We’ve got to start better than that because it’s hard to come back and beat a good team like that. If we played like we played in the second half the whole game, it’s a whole different game.”
4. Injury Bug Hits Hard– We’ll find out more about their injuries this week, but after going a number of weeks with minimal injuries, four players exited the game and did not return. Those who went down included Le’Ron McClain, Larry English and a pair of offensive linemen in King Dunlap and Nick Hardwick. As a result, the Chargers played most of the second half with an offensive line that had just one player who started the game being Johnnie Troutman at left guard. While the Bolts were able to get by with a jumbled up line against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 7, McCoy said they got beat too many times against the Broncos:
“There are going to be some mistakes. At the end there was too much pressure a couple of times with those guys coming in. But we’ll watch the film, evaluate it and move on from there.”
5. “The Whole Season is Right There in Front of Us”
–Despite being in the midst of a two-game losing streak, the Chargers are in the thick of the playoff race and feel good about their chances. While upset about losing to the Broncos, the team realizes there are seven games remaining, and if they take care of business, they will be in good shape. Most important is what Eric Weddle
said, regarding how this team believes in itself:
“We’ve got seven games left. The whole season is right there in front of us. If you guys on the outside think the season is done then don’t come talk to me because we still have everything there… We go against a team like that and to fight, in my mind, it gives me some confidence of what we can become. I’m definitely looking forward to our next matchup with them.”