In the midst of a five-game losing streak that has sunk them from first to worst in the AFC West, the Chargers are in a position no team wants to be in. Over the past month, San Diego has been defeated in some of the toughest ways possible, falling apart at the end of games week after week because of both excellent play by their opponents and their own miscues. Several of their key players are hurt, and the pressure on head coach Norv Turner is rising with each passing day.
Inside their locker room, the Chargers' players are feeling that pressure too. Though there are still six games remaining and the team is only two games behind the first-place Raiders, the roster is well aware that changes need to happen soon to save the season.
"One thing I learned is, nobody outside this locker room can feel any worse than the people in the locker room. You feel like crap, it sucks," veteran TE Randy McMichael told PFW following the team's Week 11 loss to the Bears. "But you know, the only way you can cure these things is winning."
The PFW Spin
To get out of the losing column, the Chargers will need to eliminate the physical and mental mistakes that have plagued them over the past month of the season. Too often against Chicago, defenders were a step late getting to where they needed to be. Meanwhile, the Chargers' offensive players couldn't sustain momentum from drive to drive. A pair of interceptions kept San Diego without a single yard gained in the entire fourth quarter, and an early decision to punt to Devin Hester gave the Bears good field position when San Diego seemed to be in control of a sloppy game. In all three phases of the game, as well as in terms of coaching, the Chargers did not do what it took to win a game against a quality team.
The first chance the Chargers have to get back to their winning ways is next Sunday, when they host the Broncos. Against Denver, the Bolts will have a first-hand look at the last team they beat; QB Philip Rivers said that the biggest difference between the Chargers heading into Week 12 and the Chargers who beat the Broncos in Week Five is "our record."
The Broncos' defense has been playing well lately and it knows Turner's club well from their repeated battles in the division over the years. If the Chargers are to win, they'll need to take the pressure off Rivers, who has been the centerpiece of many of the close losses recently. RB Ryan Mathews ran wild in that first meeting between the two teams, but fumbling issues and injuries have limited his production since.
Veteran NT Antonio Garay told PFW that the errors the team is making are frustrating, and that's it's the Chargers who are beating themselves, not their opponents. If that can be corrected, Garay thinks the season could be turned around.
"We've been trying to do it, just the outcomes have not been in our favor," Garay said. "We're our own worst enemies at times, we've really got to limit some of the mistakes. Fortunately enough we've still got next week and we get another home game next week and we have to get a win out of it."
Beating the Broncos would be huge for the Chargers. It would help them climb back up the standings, give the team some confidence and, maybe most importantly, cool all the pressure surrounding the club.
Another loss, and it will be time to write the obituary for the Chargers' 2011 season and Turner's tenure as head coach.
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