By Dave Thomas
With only seven games remaining in the regular season, the San Diego Chargers literally have their backs against the wall.
Given such high expectations coming into 2015, the Bolts have floundered for the most part through nine games, leaving them in last place in the AFC West with a 2-7 record (0-1 versus division foes). While San Diego is not mathematically eliminated from AFC playoff contention, the writing is all but on the wall at this point.
So, what has gone so wrong in a season of so many hopes?
Injuries Plaguing Chargers As Bad As Anyone Else
For starters, San Diego has literally been running out of starters through nine agonizing games.
Whether it is guys on the offensive line, the backfield, at the wide receiver position or on the defensive side of the pigskin, it seems like one or more players are dropping on a weekly basis. To make matters worse, the play of some of the starters not heavily injured and/or their replacements at times has not been anything to write home about.
Another problem this season has been some of the offensive play calling, some of which has been downright offensive at times.
There has been speculation that offensive coordinator Frank Reich may be on his way out at season's end, but that will not help the Chargers during their final seven regular season games. If you've watched a number of San Diego offensive drives late in games this season (Green Bay, Pittsburgh, Chicago etc.), you were likely left shaking your head. While it is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, some of the play selections just did not seem to fit the moment.
With injuries, of course, comes uncertainty in many instances as to how soon the injured party will return to play.
Whether it has been the absence of linebacker Manti Te'o (ankle) for a number of games this season or now the season-ending injury of star wide receiver Keenan Allen (lacerated kidney), the players who step into their roles on the team is critical.
Losing Allen Proves Major Blow
If you look specifically at the absence of Allen on the team (was on record-setting pace before his injury), you can see where San Diego will have trouble mustering yards - and points, for that matter - down the stretch.
In last Monday night's disappointing 22-19 loss to Chicago in front of a nationwide audience, veteran wide receiver Malcom Floyd went down with an injury as San Diego was looking to score. Floyd, who doesn't have the skill set or legs of the younger Allen, is still a viable threat each time he's on the field. When you lose both Allen and Floyd, the receiver ranks are certainly depleted.
The injuries San Diego has now at the receiver position are just one example (offensive line, defense) of where this season has gone wrong in so many ways.
With seven games remaining on the slate, will the Chargers phone it in or fight for what now seems the longest of playoff shots?
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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