Chargers need to rediscover that winning feeling

Frustration high in San Diego

ESPN NFL Insider Louis Riddick discusses whether a public heated exchange between Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates is cause for concern, and whether the Chargers will be able to right the ship in 2015.

SAN DIEGO -- It might seem long ago, but at one point during the Mike McCoy era the San Diego Chargers won 10 out of 12 games and were sitting at 5-1 in the AFC West.

The Chargers finished the 2013 regular season by winning four straight games, including an improbable 27-24 overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the final game to reach the playoffs.

Once in, San Diego easily dispatched of the Cincinnati Bengals 27-10 on the road before falling to the Denver Broncos 24-17 in the AFC divisional playoff round.

The Chargers then started the 2014 regular season by winning five out of their first six games to take the AFC West lead.

Since then, the Chargers have lost 14 out of their last 20 games. At 2-8 this season, the Chargers have the longest losing streak in the NFL, currently on a six-game skid.

Chargers tight end Antonio Gates said his team has to get the confidence back that it can win games.

“We just have to continue to believe in the blueprint that’s set out for us offensively and defensively in what we try and do in every game,” Gates said. “I don’t think there’s so many things I would like to change.

“The coaching staff is phenomenal in putting us in situations to maximize our ability. We just have to find a way to execute it in the game, and sometimes that’s easier said than done. That’s really the challenge for us: Find a way to take the game plan and the blueprint that’s set out for us every single week, and find a way to execute it in the game.”

The blueprint for San Diego during that winning stretch was a simple. The Chargers had balance on offense, rushing for more than 100 yards in eight out of those 12 games. They controlled tempo by grabbing a first-quarter lead in seven out of those 12 contests, and they won the turnover battle, with a plus-14 turnover differential during that stretch.

Despite the fact the Chargers lost 33-3 to the Chiefs last week, safety Eric Weddle says effort is not an issue.

“For the outside to think we were quitting and not playing hard is ridiculous,” Weddle said. “The people that say that don’t know what’s really going on. We’re fighting right now. I’ve never been in this position at any level. I’ve very rarely been on a losing team.”

Gates says the solution to ending San Diego’s six-game skid is simple, yet hard to accomplish: Focus on doing your job.

“I’m a firm believer in coaches and coach, and players have to go out there and play,” Gates said. “The coaches get a lot of blame for certain things when things aren’t going right. As a guy that’s been around, I understand -- and I’m quite sure the older guys that have been around understand -- we have to be the one that go out and execute.

“And it starts in believing in what we’re doing. And we do believe in what we’re doing. Somehow, we just have to find a way to make that transition from the practice field and the meetings to the games. That’s the obstacle that we have to try and overcome at this point.”