Monday, November 18, 2013
Upon Further Review: Chargers Week 11
By Eric D. Williams
MIAMI -- An examination of four hot issues from the San Diego Chargers' 20-16 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Playoffs?! You talking about playoffs?! Yes, it’s understood the Chargers, losers of their last three games, are one of six teams at 4-6 and on the outside looking in if the AFC playoffs were to start today. However, San Diego has four of its last six games at home, including four against AFC West opponents, and are just a game out for the final AFC wild-card berth. Either way, the Chargers have an uphill battle to get back into the playoff hunt.
Can poor tackling be fixed? Whether it’s taking better angles, wrapping up or just being more physical, San Diego has to do a better job defensively of getting guys on the ground than it did against Miami. A season-long issue looked the worst it has been against the Dolphins. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Miami tight end Charles Clay finished with a career-high 78 yards after the catch, including 35 on a third-quarter touchdown in which he broke at least four tackles. “It comes down to in the moment just the will to bring someone down,” outside linebacker Jarret Johnson said. “Especially when a guy is bigger than you, it’s tough. But you just have to get him down. It doesn’t matter if it’s ugly or not.”
Fluker hangs tough: Rookie first-round draft pick D.J. Fluker predictably struggled at times with speed edge-rushers while starting at left tackle for the first time in place of King Dunlap. Still, the Alabama product hung tough, and has proved versatile with his ability to move over and play left tackle for the Chargers in a pinch. However, San Diego likely will be looking for a left tackle at season’s end. “I wasn’t specifically watching him all the time, but he’s done a heck of a job all year,” San Diego coach Mike McCoy said. “I’m very pleased with the way he’s stepped up. The kid’s a competitor. You love the way he approaches every day of work. He shows up just to get better, that’s what he wants to do every day. And he’s going to do whatever we ask him to do.”
McCoy’s worst game as coach: This loss will hurt the most for McCoy when he looks back on his first season as a head coach, because San Diego played a team reeling from off-field issues and could not close the deal in a game the Chargers needed to win. Players said they had a good week of practice and felt prepared. Still, the Dolphins were without three of their five starting offensive linemen, and the Chargers did not play with enough urgency in the final minutes to emerge with a victory against a team that they matched up against talent-wise, scoring a season-low 16 points.