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The NFL season is so long, teams can look bad for a stretch and still come back to win a Super Bowl title, but the Chargers’ defensive deficiencies are so glaring the Bolts may have reached the point they need to chart a new course for the offense.

Throw the ball. It’s becoming painfully apparent after San Diego’s

37-32 loss to New Orleans Sunday in London that the Chargers must outscore teams to win games. They can’t gain the tough yards on the ground consistently enough to control the clock and finish drives.

Conventional wisdom, of course, is you have to establish the run. But the 2008 Chargers, with no pass rush to help the defensive backs, are starting to remind of the 1981 and 1982 Chargers.

Once the late Gene Klein foolishly traded away Fred Dean, a future Hall-of-Famer, the Bolts’ defense went into decline without his pass rush. But the Chargers still won by outscoring teams to make the playoffs in the 1981 and 1982 seasons.

The 1981 team might have pulled off a Super Bowl season, but that was the year of the Ice Bowl at Cincinnati.

The Chargers’ record dropped to 3-5, but if anybody thinks the AFC West-leading Denver Broncos (4-3) aren’t going to lose at least six games this year, they aren’t paying attention. And don’t think the Oakland Raiders (2-5) or Kansas City Chiefs (1-6) are going to finish with 10 wins.

The Chargers should win their remaining four division games against the Broncos, Raiders and Chiefs (twice). That gets them to seven wins.

If they can outscore two or three of their other opponents (at Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Atlanta and at Tampa Bay), they can still win the division with nine or 10 wins.

I’m not going to blame the coaches, although the players are hinting they want to see more man-to-man press coverage of the wideouts. Most of time when a team struggles it’s a matter of the players just not being good enough.

This defense, without linebackers Shawne Merriman

(injured) or Donnie Edwards (let go after the 2006 season), don’t seem to have enough physical play to carry the the Chargers. They aren’t forcing turnovers or getting sacks as they have in the past.

The Bolts have to compensate by opening up their offense with more formations that spread the field. It’s not textbook football, but this team is missing too many pages to go by the book.


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