Norv and company had two weeks to prepare for Denver and they weren't prepared. Norv couldn't find a way to protect Rivers and Ron Rivera couldn't find a way to get to Kyle Orton. San Diego fans must now come to grips with the fact that the Patriot-style system is superior to the "Norv" system and now instead of waiting to lose against it in the playoffs year in and year out, they have to lose to it twice a year in their very own division.
Sometimes experience and success breeds wisdom and sometimes it breeds complacency. This San Diego team was simply not aggressive enough and not desperate enough last night. Denver was the team with all the fire out there. Denver was in the face of the Chargers and having fun at the same time. The Chargers looked like Madoff investors watching their riches evaporate all night. No joy. No fire. No passion. Just a dream coming to an end.
The San Diego defense simply can't consistently stop the run or (ever) bring pressure on the quarterback. Jamaal Williams is gone. Merriman can't run like he used to and no one else in the front seven is special enough to make a difference.
On offense, the running game does not scare, beat-up, or challenge defenses anymore, so teams can load up on the consistent 3rd and 7's and 3rds and 9's that result. The difference last night seemed to come down to 3rd down, where the Broncos were consistently in 3rd and 3 situations, which they would easily get first downs with short passes to Brandon Marshall or the tight end Scheffler, while the Chargers had 3rd and long and couldn't protect Rivers long enough for the down field passing plays to develop.
It just may be that the wave of divisional success for the Chargers has crested. The past few years, they had their chances in the playoffs, didn't capitalize, and the window is closing. How will the team respond to this new challenge from Denver? In-fighting? Accusations? Excuses? Giving up? Is there still a chance some of the great players on this team could reach back and find something they've lost? Yes, but the chances for this team seem dimmer and dimmer.