Chargers are ‘more talented’ than what they showed in collapse against Patriots

In a game where the talent across the roster for once tilted in favor of the team visiting Foxborough, it was another typical Patriots performance.

41-year-old Tom Brady dissected a defense consisting of three All-Pro players, while rookie running back Sony Michel diced through the line with ease.

The Los Angeles Chargers, who entered the playoffs with the second-best record in the AFC, were forced into one of the most difficult postseason tasks in recent memory for a 12-win team and it finally caught up to them.

A team that was 8-0 outside of Los Angeles, the Bolts entered Massachusetts with a deserved sense of confidence: they limited the league’s best rush attack to just 90 yards in the Wild Card Round; they had a healthy Melvin Gordon and activated tight end Hunter Henry for the first time all season; they were, as Colin Cowherd says, facing ‘the most vulnerable Patriots team we’ve seen.’

And then Sunday happened.

The Chargers first half went about as poorly as possible.

The Bolts mustered just 23 offensive snaps. In the same 30 minutes, the Patriots tallied 24 first downs. The Chargers were held scoreless after their first possession. The Patriots tied a franchise record with 35 points in the first half. The Blue and Gold completed just seven passes. Patriots running back James White alone caught 10.

It was a deficit that couldn’t be overcome, and it was far from what was expected.

“I was surprised how physically dominated they were,” Shannon Sharpe said on Undisputed. “I’m not surprised they lost… what was surprising was their inability to adapt.”

Sharpe’s co-host Skip Bayless echoed the Pro Football Hall of Famer’s sentiments.

“The Chargers defense is talented. There’s talent everywhere,” Bayless said. “They’re better than how they played yesterday.”

The same Chargers defense that allowed just 229 total yards of offense against the Ravens a week prior gave up 498 to the Patriots (343 by air, 155 by ground) after exercising a similar scheme. A week after defensive coordinator Gus Bradley received high praise for deploying a six and seven defensive back strategy to limit Baltimore, it was picked apart by the New England.

On the other side of the ball, Philip Rivers could not buy time to look downfield.

Rivers was sacked twice, hit seven times and pressured 28 times– far and away the most of any QB this season, according to Next Gen Stats.

It was a perfect storm of failed game planning and poor execution at the worst time possible for the franchise still looking for it’s first Super Bowl title.

And now, another year must go by. As fans wait to see how the team handles the free agency of notable players like Antonio Gates, Denzel Perryman, Brandon MebaneJason Verrett and Adrian Phillips, will the Chargers be able to learn from these mistakes and claim that elusive Lombardi Rivers deserves before leaving southern California?

Luckily, we’ll only have to wait eight months to find out.