The Chargers lost yet again this week, and in a strange fashion that has become fitting for the team.
Quarterback Philip Rivers threw for 359 yards and four touchdowns, completing 21-of-30 passes, and the Chargers still lost when a botched field goal hold took away their chances to tie the game with just minutes remaining. It was a flukey, ugly way to lose, and then wideout Travis Benjamin said this in his postgame interview:
“I came from Cleveland, so you know what that’s like, losing at the end and turning the ball over and just dumbfounded like, ‘How could it happen?’ … It gets frustrating. We feel like we can win, then the unbelievable happens for four or five weeks straight.”
And that pretty much sums up how poorly this year is going for San Diego. Being compared to the Browns isn’t something any team in the NFL wants.
When Benjamin was brought in, it was supposed to be a big addition for the Chargers and a big move up for him. He’d been the Browns’ No. 1 guy last year, putting up great personal stats in loss after loss – something Rivers is very used to doing in San Diego. He was finally going to get a chance to play with a good quarterback, on a team with other talented offensive weapons, and the Chargers hoped to at least get back to the playoffs. They were considered a team on the rise this offseason, getting their players – like wide receiver Keenan Allen – back from injury and getting ready to be a force in the AFC West.
Instead, it’s just more of the same for Benjamin. He had seven catches for 117 yards and still lost on a sloppy play at the end. Same old Browns…sorry, Chargers.
Granted, it’s not all on the special teams. The Chargers were still down by three in the fourth quarter, even with the show Rivers put on. They clearly have issues on defense, and they could not contain the Raiders – a team with one of the better offenses in the NFL. You can’t give up 34 points and then act like the only reason you lost is because you didn’t get to try a field goal to potentially tie the game. There are bigger issues, and injuries – Allen is back on IR – are once again a big part of it.
But it still really indicates how the wheels are coming off for the Chargers if Benjamin feels right at home. This is just what he’s used to. This is how pro ball goes for him. Because it’s what the only two teams he’s played for do week in and week out.
Even Rivers, who has guided the Chargers into the playoffs and remembers the days when the organization was setting offensive records, dominating the division, and looking nothing like the Browns, seems fed up with the change. Sick of the dysfunction and inability to get it together. He said:
“If I didn’t have my faith or my family, I don’t know how people do it. I would literally be a lunatic. I know I get crazy some, but I would be out of my mind. Because I was having these thoughts of coming in here and screaming and hollering and saying things I don’t say…Maybe we’re going to go on an unbelievable run, who knows? Maybe we’re getting all these out of the way, so we can, you know, what, win 10 in a row?”
That last bit can be taken as a positive spin on a terrible situation, but it’s more sarcastic than anything. All Rivers is really saying is that they’d have to be outlandishly good to end the season if they’re even going to compete. It’s not impossible – just ask the Chiefs – but it’s not going to happen.
So, is Benjamin right? Are the Chargers the new Browns? Not quite. Because the Browns often didn’t look competitive in their losses. The Chargers are still exciting to watch and look like they’re in the game until the end, when they choke it away.
But, if head coach Mike McCoy can’t find a way to actually finish games and get some wins, the Chargers are going to end the year with a very Browns-esque record. And with another top-five pick.