Chargers left tackle Jared Gaither gave up the game-sealing sack at the end of Sunday night’s loss to the Saints, and Chargers coach Norv Turner says Gaither shouldn’t have been on the field.
Turner said on Wednesday that Gaither strained his groin a couple plays before giving up that sack and was hurting to such an extent that he had no business continuing to play. According to Turner, it was Gaither’s responsibility to signal to the sideline that he needed to come out, rather than try to tough it out.
“He should have taken himself out,” Turner said, via U-T San Diego. “It was two plays. Something like that, you raise your hand and come out.”
NBC’s Cris Collinsworth said while calling the game that it was clear Gaither was hurting, and that he needed to either go to the sideline or — at the very least — make sure everyone knew he couldn’t get out of his stance quickly enough to stop the Saints’ Martez Wilson from speed rushing past him, so that the Chargers could line up a tight end or running back on the left side to help Gaither out.
Unfortunately, while Collinsworth noticed it, none of the Chargers’ coaches did.
“I heard that Cris Collinsworth said that, but he was looking down from up above,” Turner said. “In the third to last play [Gaither] strained his groin a little bit and I would rather have him come out in that situation. He got back in the huddle. Obviously there was no way that you could see it. I think that Cris [Collinsworth] saw it on the next play where Philip [Rivers] had to throw the ball away and the next play was a sack. You would like Jared to come out of the game and we could have put [Mike] Harris in. It would have helped us. I think that Jared is trying to fight through it and he felt that he could play. It wasn’t brought to my attention.”
If Collinsworth could see it from above, one of the coaches in the Chargers’ box should have seen it from above, too. But they didn’t. And with the Chargers driving down the field and trying to tie the game in the closing seconds, Wilson rushed right past Gaither, stripped the ball from Rivers, recovered the fumble, and ended the game.