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Five Lessons from the Dolphins Game

Posted Nov 18, 2013

Here are your weekly five lessons from the past week's game.

Here are five lessons we learned from Sunday’s 20-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

1. Too Many Inexcusable Penalties – It’s nearly impossible for a team to go through an NFL game and not commit a penalty, something any head coach understands.  But 10 penalties are far too many for a team to be successful, especially with the type of transgressions the Bolts committed.  First, a roughing the passer call on Corey Liuget overturned a fumble that the defense forced at the goal line.  Then a taunting call on Keenan Allen stalled a drive by forcing a 2nd-and-22. And to top it off, the team jumped offsides not once but four times.  After the game, McCoy said those types of penalties were utterly inexcusable:

“There are certain penalties in the game where you accept, you understand certain things. And then there are dumb penalties. What, did we jump off sides three times in the first half? I mean, come on. Give me a break. And then Keenan got the one penalty for chirping. Those are all avoidable. There’s certain plays in the heat of the battle … there’s going to be a holding call. I understand that. I mean, you can’t have them but those ones you can somewhat live with. On an aggression penalty … it’s a physical game. We understand that. And sometimes it is so close … you know, they’re penalties. You’ve got to eliminate the ones you can eliminate just by not jumping off sides and no unsportsmanlike penalties for chirping.”

2.  Need to Fix Poor Tackling – The Chargers left too many tackles out on the field on Sunday.  This was never more evident than on Charles Clay’s 39-yard touchdown when he ran through and around would-be tacklers.  The Bolts expect more of themselves when it comes to bringing down the ball carrier, and Eric Weddle explained how the team must fix this issue:

“We need to tackle better.  Even if you’re a smaller guy, take his legs and then he cannot really run….It’s frustrating.  Why does it happen sometimes?  You don’t really know. Our guys are just trying our hardest.  Those guys are good players.  When you don’t take the feet, you don’t take their legs and you don’t wrap up, those guys are big and they’ll keep running.  I’ll just keep telling the guys to do those things.  We all have to rally to the ball.


3. Ladarius Green is Blossoming – Ladarius Green has made a number of standout plays this season, but he had a career day on Sunday.  Given more opportunities, the second year tight end led the team in both catches (four) and yards (81).  The Chargers are very high on last year’s fourth-round pick, and with good reason.  At just 23 years old, he has the talent to be a top-notch tight end for years to come.  One of his best qualities is how he remains humble, always striving to be better as indicated by what he had to say following his career game:

“I’m a little more comfortable, but I’ve still got a long way to go.  I’ve especially got a lot more to learn from (Antonio Gates)….I still have to get more comfortable.  I still have to get better route running.  Like I said, I’ve still got a long way to go. I’ve got a lot more to learn.”


4. Mathews is Making a Difference Ryan Mathews is running so hard and strong right now that you’d be hard pressed to name a more physical, punishing running back in the NFL through Week 11.  Mathews had a terrific day against the Dolphins, rushing for 127 yards (10 shy of his career high) on 19 attempts, averaging 6.7 yards per carry.  That includes a career-long 51-yard sprint up the left sideline late in the third quarter.  After the game, McCoy lauded his performance:

“On a positive side, I think Ryan Matthews ran extremely well today.  He ran hard. He was fighting in there… From day one when we got here, I always thought that Ryan was a very physical runner. He’s really bought into the system and the changes.  Football is football, really. We might call some things differently or have him (run) more attempts at certain things but it’s the whole entire offensive that deserves credit for that when someone rushes for 127 (yards), the way the line blocked up front. I’m very happy with the way he’s running the football.”


5. Mistakes too Big to Overcome –This isn’t to say that the Chargers don’t believe in themselves. They staunchly believe they are a better team than their 4-6 record, but in the end, they admit that they are what their record indicates.  We’ve stated numerous times  the number of mistakes the team has made in regards to penalties, tackling, red zone issues, etc.  It’s hard for a team to overcome that, and as many veterans, including Antonio Gates, pointed out,  the Bolts unfortunately haven’t been good enough to overcome those errors:

“Based on where we stand now at 4-6, I do (believe our margin of error is too thin).  Despite what we believe, we’re a 4-6 team. When I think of every game we lost this season, we made errors and we weren’t good enough to overcome them. So now we understand as a team that we’re not the caliber of a team that can make these kinds of mistakes and overcome them. It’s just too tough to overcome them.”


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