The San Diego Chargers are at a crossroads in their season.
“We knew when the schedule came out the combination of the Monday night game and then the next two games being on Sunday and Thursday night was going to be demanding and challenging, and our guys understand they have to do everything they can to get rested and take care of themselves and get ready to play,” Chargers Coach Norv Turner said in a conference call with Packers media on Wednesday.
The Chargers are coming off a gut-wrenching, AFC West loss on Monday night in Kansas City, and now find themselves having to deal with the stigma of that loss in a short week and against the NFL’s lone undefeated team, the Packers. Making matters worse, following this game the Chargers will face the quickest turnaround in pro football, a four-day preparation for a Thursday nighter against AFC West rival Oakland.
Wow! Talk about being challenged by the schedule-maker. By the way, the Chargers will be playing on their home turf, Qualcomm Stadium, for the first time in over a month.
“You gotta let that one go,” quarterback Philip Rivers said of the loss in Kansas City. “You gotta move on. This is another big game. We’ve lost two in a row and these are the defending champs coming in here, that haven’t lost all the way back to December.”
Rivers accepted full blame for the loss in Kansas City. He had the Chargers jockeying for a game-winning field goal in the final seconds of Monday’s game when he fumbled the snap from center and the Chiefs recovered.
Instead of being 5-2, coming off a big win and preparing for a game that could catapult them to the head of the AFC class, the Chargers are desperate to stay above .500. Recovery must be immediate.
“We’ve started that process today. The coaches got back to work. We got in at four in the morning on Tuesday and got going,” Turner said.
Rivers is one of the game’s elite quarterbacks, but he’s in the midst of an atypically down year. He’s thrown 11 interceptions against just seven touchdown passes, and his passer rating is a lowly 80.7, far beneath his standards.
“He’s made some unbelievable plays, some big-time throws. The difference between great and being good is 3-4 plays. There are some plays that he’s trying to make something happen when it’s not there,” Turner said of Rivers.
A healthy Antonio Gates and big-body wide receiver Vincent Jackson give Rivers the kind of star power Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has at his command. The Packers hope Rivers and company don’t come to life this Sunday.
“It’s huge to a have a tight end that can run and catch like a wide receiver,” Rivers said of Gates. “You see teams play you differently.
“The film shows why they haven’t lost a game. It’s going to be a heckuva challenge,” Rivers said of Sunday’s game.
San Diego is famous for its late-season charges. Rivers acknowledges that the Chargers better begin this year’s charge soon, or it might be too late.
“This three-game stretch, it’s certainly a challenge,” he said. “We have a lot of challenges ahead of us and it’s going to start this week with the Super Bowl champs and the best team in football right now.
“I’m going to fight through it, we’re going to fight through it and it can make us better in the end. It’s going to be key that we get going pretty soon.” Additional coverage - Nov. 2