The Chargers showed tonight that they could not physically stand up to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The defense, for the fourth week in a row, came out flat and was easily pushed around by the Steelers. Even a first half sideline tongue lashing of the whole squad by Ron Rivera did little good.
The pass rush was absolutely pathetic. San Diego's guys are no match for a good offensive line. Rothlisberger had too much time all night. This defense absolutely needs the dominance of Shawne Merriman for it to work.
In the passing game, Burnett, Cromartie, Gregory and Hart often looked lost. Antonio Cromartie, just like last year, doesn't seem to have his head completely in the game. Perhaps the Chargers were out coached as well. Steelers' receivers we often open with a ten-yard cushion around them. They knew exactly how and where to attack this defense.
The offense wasn't very good either until the end, but with the Steelers controlling the ball at home, they weren't given much of a chance to get going. All that being said, the run game is still atrocious. San Diego just doesn't knock anyone off the ball.
I've been a supporter of Norv since he showed he could win playoff games in his first season with San Diego, however, one could argue that this team has steadily lost its toughness and fundamental football skills since Marty Shottenheimer left. One could argue that Norv is a chess player, an X and O guy, and not a leader of men. One could argue he should have stayed in the booth up top calling plays. If this team underperforms even more this season and continues to look like it can't compete with the elite teams, even AJ Smith will have to consider this possibility.
Despite the few lucky plays at the end of the game that kept the Chargers close in points, this game was not close. This team does not appear close to the top teams in the NFL.
If this team doesn't come out of the bye with more fire and aggressiveness, this season may be lost. Denver's defense is for real and they will not choke away a big lead in the standings for the second year in a row. This will be the challenge of Norv's career.