Sunday, January 11, 2009

Game Day

In postseason play the home team is always favored, as the higher-seeded team gets the home field advantage. So far this weekend the Arizona Cardinals beat the Panthers in North Carolina, the Baltimore Ravens beat the Titans in Tennessee, and the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Giants in, well, New Jersey (their home field).

Can the San Diego Chargers, playing the Steelers in Pittsburgh in a few minutes, make it four for four? It's game time.

Sunday, 5:30pm: That was embarrasing
Do not let the 35-24 score fool you; the game was nowhere nearly that close. In the third quarter the Chargers ran one offensive play. One play for zero yards. (It was a pass which was intercepted.) They committed two turnovers in that quarter. I have never seen anything like that in a regular season game between badly mismatched teams; but to see it in a postseason, playoff game between two division champions...

This was another massive coaching failure. The coaching staff was terrified of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They, not they players I think, but the coaches, were pretty much wetting their pants at the prospect of having to face this team. The defense played a very effective aggressive attacking style, holding the Steelers to zero points, until late in the first half when Big Ben completed a long pass. At that point the defense went to sitting back deep and using its "we're not going to let you complete a fifty-yard pass" mode. The game was effectively over when that coaching decision was made.

Update 2: Monday, 7:10am
From Tim Sullivan, of the San Diego Union-Tribune,
The Chargers don't like to dwell on their missing parts, but it was impossible to watch the Steelers driving with impunity without imagining how different things might have been with Merriman.

And yet the Chargers defense, without the sainted Merriman, held Pittsburgh to zero points and were pretty much in control for almost the entire first half. The coaching staff, for reasons known only to them (if, in fact, the reason is actually known to them) decided to revert to the ever-failing four man vanilla pash rush and set the secondary in a deep zone.

Even with Merriman, complete with his batman hood and superman cape, when the Chargers rush the same four people in entirely predictible patterns against a playoff caliber team, they are going to put no pressure on the quarterback. The return of Superman Merriman is not going to make any real difference when the Chargers' coaching staff continues to use a "prevent" defense for an entire game.

Opponents do not need to complete the fifty-yard pass that the Chargers are preventing, when they can complete an infinite number of eight-yard passes and twelve-yard runs for five touchdowns per game, staying on the field and keeping our offense on the bench for up to an entire quarter.

"The Chargers don't like to dwell on their missing parts" Sullivan says, but that is pretty much all they have done all year. Instead of looking at why they have actually lost games they have come up with platitudes about "close games" and bad calls by the refs, and have continued with the same bad coaching and player attitude.

"Close" only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. Champions don't lose close games and they don't win close games, because champion teams don't play close games. Champion teams play with attitude and they win games with margins that mean that bad calls by refs and bad bounces by the football don't matter.

Update 3: Monday, 8:00am
Who/what are the team and sportswriters going to blame next year when Merriman is back and the team is still losing? They don't seem to recall that we lost last year when he was playing.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:03 PM

    I thought that the game would have been closer. The Steelers rushing was not bad, low yardage but consistent. The Chargers defense was intermittent, but they did hold the Steelers on the 4 and inches plkay, where I expected them to score, and they did not. Unfortunately, they didn't play that well all the rest of the game. The Chargers were division champs, yes, but 8-8, wheras the Steelers were.. what? 12-4. I don't think that a equal comparison, even though SD has been playing better (luckier?) the last few games.