Utterly Offensive

It's beyond explanation -- why does the Chargers' offense stink? It has the NFL's reigning MVP in running back LaDainian Tomlinson. It has a Pro Bowl fullback in Lorenzo Neal. It has a Pro Bowl quarterback in Philip Rivers. It has a so-called offensive genius calling the plays in Norv Turner. And yet, the unit is rated No. 25 in the NFL.

Nowhere is the stench worse than at quarterback, where Philip Rivers is in the full throes of a sophomore slump.

Or did you think his 30.6 rating in Sunday's win over the Colts was a misprint?

"You can win games with inconsistent play, but ultimately I understand that I have to play better for us to get where we want to go," Rivers said.

Rivers was shaky again on Sunday, completing 13-of-24 passes for 104 yards and two interceptions. He was sacked twice and also lost a fumble in the end zone which the Colts recovered for a touchdown.

On the year, Rivers has 10 interceptions and five lost fumbles; two were recovered for touchdowns.

"I by no means have lost any confidence whatsoever, because I feel like I'm doing some positive things," Rivers said. "I'm not consistent enough, and our team is not consistent enough offensively."

That has to change quickly if the Chargers want to remain in first place in the AFC West. Especially with the schedule continuing to be stiff.

On-deck are games at Jacksonville, home against the Ravens, then back out on the road against the Chiefs and Titans.


--Rivers needs to bounce back in a big way against a tough Jaguars defense which plays well at home. Not only are Rivers' numbers bad of late, but he has been drawing criticism for his pouty manner on the sidelines as well. The Chargers need their offensive leader to put up numbers and show better poise when the wheels start coming off, which has happened way too frequently this season.

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson is one frustrated player. It seems odd to many Chargers watchers that when a team is backed up inside its 10 yard-line, holding a lead and looking to milk the clock, and Tomlinson's name isn't called to carry the ball once. Tomlinson rushed for 76 yards on 21 carries and added 21 yards through the air.

--TE Antonio Gates was slightly more involved this week after having but one catch for 10 yards in Minnesota. Gates had three catches for 26 yards. That's not enough touches for the NFL's best tight end.

--WR Chris Chambers continues to be eased into the offense at a pace which is too slow for some. Rivers, though, is having trouble with the deep throws. Chambers had two catches for 17 yards and no touchdowns. After surrendering a second-round pick, some expected more.

--WR Vincent Jackson had two catches for 28 yards and no drops -- which is good. The Chargers still want Jackson to be more aggressive in going after passes.

--C Cory Withrow held his own against the Colts' undersized line and it looks like he will be asked to contribute more than originally thought. Whatever progress Pro Bowl C Nick Hardwick has made isn't enough for the team to be encouraged -- his return isn't determined. So it's imperative Withrow stays on his game, like he did Sunday.

--WR Craig Davis was finally active as a sprained ankle has kept him down. But Davis' name was nowhere to be found on the stats sheet -- not the kind of results the Chargers expected from their No. 1 pick.

--WR Legedu Naanee is winning over the coaches of late. He was inserted into two critical situations when the Chargers were going for first downs on a fourth- and a third-down. Naanee came through on both occasions, getting the first downs and collecting 12 yards as well. Look for him to be more involved.

--DT Jamal Williams played better as he continues to ease back into action after two knee surgeries during the bye week. He was a clog in the middle and finished with six tackles.

--CB Antonio Cromartie was sensational in picking off three of Peyton Manning's passes. One was an unbelievable, one-handed catch which displayed his athletic ability. Cromartie, despite leading the NFL with six interceptions, probably goes back to his nickel role this week.

--CB Quentin Jammer was somewhat optimistic he could go this week after missing the Colts game with a hamstring injury. Jammer will test his leg probably on Thursday.

--OLB Shaun Phillips showed his skills when deflecting then catching a Manning pass for an interception. Phillips also added three tackles and a pass defensed.

--ILB Matt Wilhelm has the ball mark to prove he intercepted a Manning pass when he stepped in front of one of his high-speed offerings. Wilhelm was also a force in the running game as he had 11 tackles.

--ILB Stephen Cooper got burned for one touchdown reception as he turned the wrong way -- a mistake he owned up to. He finished with eight tackles and a pass defensed.

--DE Jacques Cesaire had a pretty solid game in being half of the rotation replacing Luis Castillo (ankle). Cesaire, who rotated with Ryon Bingham, had three tackles and a pass defensed.

--KR/PR Darren Sproles gave the team a huge lift when returning a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns. His returns are becoming even more critical with the offense struggling so much. It's a unit in need of good field position, and Sproles can supply that.

--P Mike Scifres has been performing at a Pro Bowl level the last couple of weeks and Sunday was no exception. Of his five punts, three were downed inside the Indy 20. He had a 46-yard net average and a long of 61.

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