San Diego Chargers: Norv Turner

QB Watch: Chargers' Philip Rivers

September, 11, 2013
A weekly analysis of the San Diego Chargers' quarterback play.

Rewind: Philip Rivers threw a game-tying interception in the fourth quarter of a 31-28 home loss to Houston on Monday night. The Chargers had a 28-7 lead in the third quarter, and Rivers and the Chargers’ offense had only 10 yards on their final five drives. But this was far from a bad overall game for Rivers. He threw four touchdown passes and was brilliant before the huge momentum shift. He was poised, and he was far from the mistake machine he had been the past two years.

Fast-forward: Rivers is seeing an unfamiliar foe. The Chargers are going to Philadelphia on Sunday; it is the first time the Chargers have faced the Eagles in four years. Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III gutted the Eagles in the second half on Monday night. There are passing yards to be had against Philadelphia.

McCoy effect: Even though it was a defeat, it seems like Rivers is getting a lot out of playing for new head coach Mike McCoy. Rivers looked more poised and comfortable. He wasn’t pressing Monday night as he often did in the final two years of the Norv Turner regime. It was a promising start to the Rivers-McCoy pairing.

Prediction: Rivers will go 21-of-36 with 273 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Power Rankings: No. 26 San Diego

September, 10, 2013
A weekly examination of the Chargers’ Power Ranking:

Preseason: 23 | Last Week: 24 | Power Ranking since 2002

A slip of two spots in the Power Rankings are the least of the San Diego Chargers’ problems.

This may have been the most disappointing outcome of Week 1. The Chargers were fantastic for most of their 31-28 home loss to Houston on Monday night. The Chargers led 28-7 in the third quarter. Then the Chargers did what they do -- they fell apart. It was the Norv Tuner Chargers all over again in Mike McCoy’s debut.

It was a punishing defeat. The truth is, the Chargers looked much better than the 26th-ranked team Monday night. But the truth is, they blew another one, and that’s all the voters have to work with.

Upon Further Review: Chargers Week 1

September, 10, 2013
An examination of four hot issues from the San Diego Chargers' 31-28 loss to the Houston Texans:

Another collapse: Norv Turner is no longer the Chargers’ coach, but a similar thing happened. The Chargers blew a huge lead again in the first game of the Mike McCoy era. San Diego had a 28-7 lead with less than 11 minutes remaining in the third quarter Monday, only to be outscored 24-0 the rest of the game. Last October, on a Monday night, the Denver Broncos came back from a 24-0 halftime deficit to beat the Chargers 35-24. McCoy was Denver’s offensive coordinator in that game. Seeing such a promising start end a familiar way to begin the McCoy era is difficult for San Diego to digest.

[+] EnlargePhilip Rivers
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesPhilip Rivers threw four touchdown passes, but struggled in the fourth quarter Monday night.
Rivers’ fourth-quarter failures: San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers was terrific for the first 34 minutes of the game as he threw four touchdown passes. But as the Texans came back, Rivers was unable to spark his team. Rivers was 1-for-7 in the fourth quarter, including an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown by Houston linebacker Brian Cushing to tie the game at 28-28. According to ESPN Stats & Information, since the start of last season Rivers has an NFL-worst 7.7 fourth-quarter Total QBR and a league-high 13 turnovers.

Great start: The Chargers squandered a dynamic start to the game. After a great stop on special teams, the San Diego defensive came on the field and forced Houston quarterback Matt Schaub into an interception on the first offensive play of the season. Defensive tackle Cam Thomas intercepted the ball at the Houston 14. On the next play, the San Diego offense punched in a touchdown on a pass from Rivers to Ryan Mathews. It was a stunning turn of events. In the end, it meant little.

Get better on third-down defense: The Chargers improved on third down defensively some last year after finishing dead last in the NFL in 2011. But the Texans came back fueled on third-down success Monday night. The Texans converted on third-and-18 and third-and-13 during the comeback. This is a good, solid defense. But destructing on third-and-long is no way to build a winner. There are many reasons Houston came back. But it all started on third down.

Chargers 'sick' following tough loss

September, 10, 2013
Philip RiversRobert Hanashiro/USA TODAY SportsPhilip Rivers and the Chargers fell flat in the second half, surrendering a 21-point lead.

SAN DIEGO -- Maybe it’s the stadium.

It has to be something. Neither coach Norv Turner nor general manager A.J. Smith can be blamed this time. They are both gone.

The San Diego Chargers began a new era Monday night, and if it weren’t for another second-half meltdown, it seemed like a pretty promising start. New coach Mike McCoy’s team was improved in many areas. And quarterback Philip Rivers was mostly surprisingly good.

But these are the Chargers, so none of that meant much. In the end, McCoy suffered a Turner-esque defeat to start his head coaching career. After building a 21-point third-quarter lead, the Chargers suffered a 31-28 loss to the Houston Texans late Monday night to put a cap on Week 1 of the 2013 season.

“We're sick,” Rivers said. “I'm sick, that we're not 1-0."

A dominating first-half performance by the Chargers ushered in the Tom Telesco-McCoy era. But the game ended up smacking of the Smith-Turner regime.

The collapse seemed to be coming the entire second half. All the crazy things that don’t happen in normal games started happening to the Chargers. As Texans kicker Randy Bullock’s winning 41-yard field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired, there wasn’t much shock in Qualcomm Stadium. It just seemed like a typical ending.

They’ve come to expect it around here.

Turner’s six-season tenure in San Diego was riddled with unlikely losses. It all came to a head last season when the Chargers blew a 24-point halftime lead and lost 35-24 to Denver on a Monday night. It was one of the biggest comebacks in NFL history. The game helped McCoy, who was Denver’s offensive coordinator at the time, become one of the hottest head coaching candidates in the league.

After the Chargers hired McCoy, they were able to take some solace from the embarrassing loss. At least they got one of the guys responsible to come to their side. McCoy was brought in to change San Diego’s losing culture. He was supposed to put an end to colossal collapses like the one against Denver and the famous fourth-and-29 loss to visiting Baltimore last November.

As the Chargers soared to the huge lead by playing near-flawless football in the first half, many might have believed McCoy would indeed prevent a Turner-like finish.

Then all kinds of Turner-like things started to happen.

The Chargers gave up big plays on third-and-18 and third-and-13 to keep two Texans’ scoring drives alive. They were penalized on a field goal which Houston parlayed into a touchdown -- a gigantic four-point swing in the fourth quarter.

Then Rivers threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Houston linebacker Brian Cushing to tie the game at 28 with 9:30 to go. The San Diego offense stopped after taking a 21-point lead. Brilliant play-calling dried up. The Chargers had 10 yards in their final five drives.

It was just like the Turner era. Honestly, as I walked to the interview area, I half expected to see Turner’s familiar blank stare.

But this is on the new regime. These are the new Chargers, even though the results are all too familiar.

After reveling in a Monday night San Diego collapse 11 months ago, McCoy will live with the reality that his first night as the Chargers' coach ended similarly. To his credit, he handled it well.

“The effort was there,” McCoy said. “They did a nice job. We just didn’t finish it. It comes down to finishing a football game. We got to do a better job moving forward.”

That’s the thing about this night. The Chargers played well. Yes, they did some bad things at the worst possible times. But this easily could have been a big win for a team from which not much is expected.

Rivers showed he is fitting in well with McCoy’s scheme. He looked more poised and relaxed than in the past two years, over which he committed 47 turnovers. Yes, he threw an interception and yes, it was paramount to the loss. But Rivers wasn’t a mistake waiting to happen Monday night. His four touchdown passes were the reason why the Chargers jumped out on Houston.

Many young players on both sides stood tall for San Diego. A maligned offensive line put in strong work against Texans pass-rusher J.J. Watt. San Diego’s young receivers came up big. And the Chargers’ young defense made Houston fight for most of the night.

There were signs of a good team. But, in the end, the Chargers fell apart again.

NFL veteran and San Diego newcomer Dwight Freeney tried to put a positive spin on it by saying this team will learn a lesson from the devastating collapse. Freeney was trying to be positive. But what he doesn’t realize: San Diego can teach lessons on such defeats, regardless of who is leading the charge.

Chargers season prediction: 6-10

August, 28, 2013
For the long haul, I think the San Diego Chargers are heading in the right direction as they begin the Tom Telesco-Mike McCoy era. However, I am not convinced we will see immediate progress.

San Diego went 7-9 last season, the final one of the A.J. Smith-Norv Turner partnership. It was the first time the Chargers had a losing record with Philip Rivers as their starting quarterback, a stretch that dated to 2006.

I foresee the won-loss record getting slightly worse -- San Diego finishing this season 6-10 -- because the Chargers just aren’t very deep. Telesco and McCoy are the right men for the job. They will turn this team around.

But for the immediate future, I think the Chargers may struggle. They are dangerously thin at key spots.

The offensive line is not up to par and I think it will have a difficult time giving Rivers the necessary protection. The receivers group is injured and could suffer further damage as the season goes on.

I like the core of the defense, but there are pass-rush questions and depth issues in the secondary. This is what the Chargers are: a promising work in progress. But for the short term, that could mean a losing season in the first year of the new regime.

Predicted finish in AFC West: third