RB Marshawn Lynch (Rick Stewart/Getty)
Sunday’s 23-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills reinforced a painful realization for Bolts Backers: the Chargers are simply average. The Chargers win one then lose one; they throw the ball all over the field but can’t run worth a lick; they stop the run but can’t get after the quarterback. Welcome to the age of mediocrity.
As the Chargers proved in Buffalo, it doesn’t take much to derail a contending team. Shawne Merriman’s absence -- combined with Jyles Tucker’s hamstring injury -- has left the defense without any bite. The Chargers failed to sack Trent Edwards despite the second-year quarterback dropping back to throw more than 30 times.
The lack of a pass rush exposed a secondary unable to hang with Buffalo’s middle-of-the-pack receiving corps. Quentin Jammer gave up a touchdown to Lee Evans; Antonio Cromartie failed to make an impact; and Antoine Cason suffered through his worst game as a professional, missing a pair of tackles on third downs.
Problems abound on offense, as well. LaDainian Tomlinson averaged less than 3 yards per carry for the fourth time in seven games and failed to get even halfway to the century mark for the third time this year. With only one game left before the bye, Norv Turner must seriously weigh the pros of giving his All Pro a two-week break.
Even the offense’s most proficient player, QB Philip Rivers, struggled through a tough outing. Rivers turned the ball over three times, losing a pair of fumbles and throwing an inexplicable interception with just over six minutes to play. The pick was thrown into double coverage -- on first down, no less -- in an attempt to force the ball to TE Antonio Gates.
The special teams even contributed to the lackluster outing. Darren Sproles averaged only 17 yards on four kickoff returns, despite coming in with an average of more than 30 yards.
Ironically, one of the few players who can hold his head high after Sunday’s loss is Malcom Floyd, who didn’t figure prominently into the team’s plans coming into the season. Floyd led the team with four catches for 65 yards and a score. He also teamed with Kassim Osgood to down a Mike Scifres punt at the 1-yard line.
Floyd was successful on Sunday because he outworked his opponents -- and most of his teammates, as well. It’s time San Diego's star-studded roster starts playing with the passion of this former undrafted free agent from Wyoming. Otherwise, the 2008 campaign is bound for a humbling finish.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and 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 15 years and covered the team since 2003.