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Chargers are 4-1, with room for improvement

Miami Dolphins v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

The Chargers are up next in our “state of the franchise” series. We’re checking in with each team as they hit their bye week.

Last week, we tackled the CowboysRedskinsRavensDolphins, and Browns.

Winning ugly

The Chargers are 4-1, but they haven’t looked especially impressive.  They have just scraped by against some of the worst teams in the league. The combined record of the teams they beat: 4-16.  (Or 4-12 when San Diego isn’t playing them.)

Winning ugly is still major progress in San Diego. They’ll take that any day over losing with the top-ranked offense and defense.

Evolving offense

The offensive line is playing very well.  Ryan Mathews (fourth in yards from scrimmage) has evolved into the player the Chargers thought he would.  Only two teams have attempted more runs than the Chargers; they’ve vastly improved on the ground.

Surprisingly, the struggles have been more about the passing game. Philip Rivers has made more mistakes than usual. That MVP season will have to wait.

Vincent Jackson and Malcom Floyd have been nicked up or inconsistent. Antonio Gates has been hurt, but should return. The receiver depth is poor after that, but Rivers has made enough plays to win.  They have really missed Gates.

“It’s going to come together at some point,” Rivers said this week.

Inefficiencies

The Chargers gain a lot of yards and prevent yardage well, but it doesn’t show up on the scoreboard.  This is largely due to turnover margin (-5), which was a big problem last year. Their red zone offense has also been poor.

The biggest difference

San Diego’s special teams units aren’t even average overall, but at least they aren’t gagging games away for the Chargers.  That, in addition to the favorable schedule, has tipped the scales for this team.

Next stop, division title?

We anticipate a two-team AFC West race between the Chargers and Oakland.  The eye tests says the Raiders have played better thus far, but the eye test doesn’t mean much.

Because of San Diego’s schedule, we really aren’t sure how good the Chargers can be. We’ll find out soon.  The schedule gets much tougher, starting with a trip to the Jets after the bye.  (The last 4 games are particularly tough: Bills, Ravens, at Detroit, at Oakland.)

The Chargers have survived so-so play while winning games.

“Every year you have a little different personality, and we might just be a little bit of a different personality than we’ve been the past two or three years,” Norv Turner said via Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

That’s not a bad thing.  The Chargers have the personnel on both sides of the ball and the right quarterback to be Super Bowl contenders.

4-1 with a lot of room for improvement is a nice a place to be.

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26 Responses to “Chargers are 4-1, with room for improvement”
  1. edmazeing1 says: Oct 11, 2011 5:25 PM

    Damn I wish they where 1-4 …..go Raiders!!!

  2. fringetastic says: Oct 11, 2011 5:26 PM

    “(The last 4 games are particularly tough: Bills, Ravens, at Detroit, at Oakland.)”

    Imagine saying that a year ago!

  3. mrgroovesd says: Oct 11, 2011 5:28 PM

    “The offensive line is playing very well” Huh? What? Did you see how the pocket kept collasping on Rivers. I know there’s a difference in pass protection and run blocking but whatever they had out there got Rivers sacked like 5 times. They need to fix that cuz they will play harder teams with D Lines that are beast, like the Ravens and dare I say…the Lions! I’m a bolt fan but that statement made me SMH.

  4. waxthat says: Oct 11, 2011 5:31 PM

    will never win a super bowl with norv as head coach. end of story.

  5. pfii63 says: Oct 11, 2011 5:31 PM

    4-1 is a hell of a lot better than 1-4, to be sure, but this is not a great team at present.

  6. bigshirk says: Oct 11, 2011 5:33 PM

    Have you seen who they beat? Nuff Said… Horrible teams

  7. jbaxt says: Oct 11, 2011 5:36 PM

    Chargers suck, they barely beat an injured Chiefs team who still doesn’t know who they are without Berry and Charles. This is Oakland’s year to take it and with Al out of the way, RIP, they might actually have a chance.

    Phillip Rivers is a whiner and I hope the Oakland d-line makes him cry, of course he does plenty of that without pressure so maybe they will shut him up? The best part is the Charger will start 6-2 or so and pull and Denver and choke out.

  8. chiefspirate20 says: Oct 11, 2011 5:37 PM

    The AFC West is never decided in the first half of a season. We won’t know who takes this division until weeks 13-14.

  9. skinsfanwill says: Oct 11, 2011 5:39 PM

    Where is Marty Schott when they need him. It only took a little over 15 years for Norv Turner to realize that you can’t pass on every down to win games. AJ is an idiot as well. Give away Mike Turner because he can’t back up LT forever. And then turn around and give up LT. WTH is wrong with this guy.

  10. go619chargers says: Oct 11, 2011 5:42 PM

    They will play better after the bye. I HATE Norv Turner! He plays down to bad teams and up to good teams. Their best game as a team was against New England. If they would play like they did against New England all the time, even against worse teams they will dominate. Rivers will eventually get tired of Norv cuz they’ve showed him yelling at him after every failed red zone attempt that hopefully they fire him. But after all the bad play, they are still 4-1! They didn’t make their schedule the league did. So they should be 4-1 right? Go Chargers!

  11. patsfiend says: Oct 11, 2011 5:59 PM

    Can these guys win three or four games in a row come playoff time? Can they beat the Pats or Jets once they get there? (Though, the Jets might not make it this year.)

    Those are the only questions that matter. See you guys in January.

  12. lacharger2112 says: Oct 11, 2011 5:59 PM

    It’s a long season, many things can happen. Gates coming back will hopefully help Rivers get his act together for the rest of the season. Raiders are looking tough this year. It’s a two team race not to choke!

  13. otistaylor89 says: Oct 11, 2011 6:05 PM

    I believe the Chargers will be the 1st team to know off the 2011 Packers. They get them at home, the Pack will probably have a hard time getting to Rivers, the SD fans will actually be jacked and pumped for the game.
    Having said that, the Pack will be coming off a bye week and I once when 1 for 10 on a football card in college…

  14. yaryers says: Oct 11, 2011 6:24 PM

    @patsfiend
    All legitimate questions, but don’t forget, the Chargers had all but wrapped up that playoff game in 06-07, when that idiot Marlon McCree decided to pick off a 4th and long instead of knocking it down. He then proceeded to dance around instead of hitting the ground, and of course, Troy Brown pops the ball loose and Brady gets a free first down.

    So to answer your question: yes, the Chargers can beat the Patriots in the playoffs, as long as Marlon McCree is not involved.

  15. eigglesnosuperbowls says: Oct 11, 2011 6:38 PM

    They only wish they were as good as the dream team !

  16. deepseabreeze says: Oct 11, 2011 6:56 PM

    i think this is the raiders year. the chargers have way too many questions and truthfully they play a bit soft. it may come down to the last game of the season but oakland should be able to take the west

  17. bwisnasky says: Oct 11, 2011 7:13 PM

    patsfiend says:
    Oct 11, 2011 5:59 PM
    Can these guys win three or four games in a row come playoff time? Can they beat the Pats or Jets once they get there? (Though, the Jets might not make it this year.)

    Those are the only questions that matter. See you guys in January.

    ——————————————-

    Unless it’s like last year, in which case the only way you’ll see them in January is if you are invited to their houses to watch the playoffs on TV…

  18. failcopter says: Oct 11, 2011 7:32 PM

    The Raiders are my team, but I like Matthews. As a Fresno State student myself, it’s nice to see him finally producing. I still want Seymour to flatten him when they play, though.

  19. icanspeel says: Oct 11, 2011 7:48 PM

    Chargers are notoriously bad in September and and early October and this year the only difference is they are actually winning the games they should early.

    Do they have a lot to work on? Yup, but it is much easier being 4-1 and working on things than 2-3, 1-4, etc

  20. backindasaddle says: Oct 11, 2011 7:52 PM

    patsfiend says:

    Can these guys win three or four games in a row come playoff time? Can they beat the Pats or Jets once they get there? (Though, the Jets might not make it this year.)

    Those are the only questions that matter. See you guys in January.
    ******************************************************************
    The Pats defense is going to have to improve in a major major way if they’re gonna go anywhere in the playoffs.

    I think the Ravens are the class of the AFC right now.

  21. nothimagain says: Oct 11, 2011 8:20 PM

    San Diego looked better in all of its slow starts than it does at this year’s 4-1 mark.

  22. jcdavey2011 says: Oct 11, 2011 8:31 PM

    they’re having their typical slow start without the bad record

    the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time

    if we keep playing like this vs the rest of our schedule though, oakland will be repping the afc west

  23. crazysandude says: Oct 11, 2011 8:53 PM

    What have the Chargers done in the past?

    What has changed to make you think the Chargers are going to do any different this year?

    Nobody in the AFC west is gonna make it out of the first round.

    So all you Cali fans just relax.. go take advantage of SB 215, and try again next year.

  24. vanderwerf says: Oct 11, 2011 8:58 PM

    The Chargers RB’s are both having great a years If Rivers gets his WR’s back heathly after the bye they have a chance to win 5 more games…yes we might split a game with Oakland in the end..but who knows..they could win the West this year.

  25. steviaquinn says: Oct 11, 2011 9:12 PM

    Phillip ” man Boy” Rivers loses composure when things dont go his way. He’s an interception machine in close, down to the wire, games.

    Phillip will never win the big one , let alone get there

  26. axespray says: Oct 12, 2011 11:07 AM

    can we quit calling cowboys/chargers superbowl contenders.

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