The Chargers were minutes away from their second straight road win, one that would firmly establish…
Insider's Perspective: Bolts-Titans
--If Mike McCoy, Ken Whisenhunt and Frank Reich were hired to fix Philip Rivers, it seems they are doing a masterful job. Rivers completed 20-of-24 passes (83 percent) against the Titans, boosting his season completion rating to 70 percent. He has eight TDs (including one to Antonio Gates on Sunday) against one INT so far this year.
It is also hard to blame him for not being clutch. In the first loss, Eddie Royal dropped a perfect pass to stop San Diego's attempt at a game-winning drive. Versus the Titans, Rivers was not allowed a single pass attempt on the Chargers' last full possession as McCoy & Co. went conservative. So while a 1-2 start has caused fan unrest, Rivers' performance is reason for real excitement.
--One of the reasons Rivers has been so efficient is Danny Woodhead, who has emerged as an elite check-down option. Woodhead carried five times for 31 yards against the Titans (6.2 ypc) and also led the team with seven receptions for 55 yards. Woodhead's consistency has allowed San Diego to avoid third-and-long situations and keep the offense humming.
--With the Chargers banged up, it was nice to see some young players rise to the occasion. Ladarius Green made his first two catches of the season, good for 48 yards. Larry English picked up his first sack of 2013. Johnny Patrick, starting in place of Shareece Wright, had a pass breakup and a tackle for loss. Hopefully, these performances can be building blocks and signs of better things to come.
--San Diego's defensive line, led by Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes, was supposed to be dominant. Through three games, it has been anything but. Neither Liuget nor Reyes has a sack, tackle for loss, forced fumble or batted-down pass.
The Titans won up front, piling up 170 rushing yards. Jake Locker had 68 of those yards, averaging better than 13 yards per attempt. John Pagano's troops seemed ill-prepared for Locker's scrambling ability and that contributed as much to San Diego's loss as anything else.
--San Diego's starting receivers, Vincent Brown and Keenan Allen, combined to catch three passes for 7 yards. Allen's dud is somewhat understandable, as he is a rookie pressed into duty because of Malcom Floyd's neck injury. But Brown's buzz-less season is disturbing. He had an outstanding offseason and appeared primed to emerge as San Diego's No. 1 receiver. Instead, he has caught just over half of the passes thrown his way (eight of 14) and is averaging less than 17 yards per game.
--As we covered on Sunday, this was a bad game for Coach McCoy. He passed on several opportunities to put the game away and his conservatism cost San Diego a victory. This is especially damaging on a young team trying to create a winning environment. He needs to prove he is more than a great play-caller ... Chargers fans have been down that road before and don't feel like traversing it again.
The Chargers return home to face the Dallas Cowboys, who are coming off a dominant home win over the St. Louis Rams. Dallas is 2-1, its lone loss coming on the road against another AFC West foe, the Kansas City Chiefs. San Diego sorely needs its first home win of the McCoy era to win back some goodwill and even its record at 2-2.
Another loss would be devastating, as the Denver Broncos (home versus Eagles) and Chiefs (home versus Giants) appear to be on the fast-track to 4-0 starts.
What do you think of McCoy's performance so far? Discuss in the message boards.
Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.
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