Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/19/12
Before Week 15, there were 8 victims of the NFL grind, and with arguable exceptions, they were all declared 'dead men walking' quite some time ago.After Week 15's slate of games, there would be another quartet of lifeless masses heaped upon the Football Nation Morgue, all with just a smidgen more optimism than that original group of tagged-and-bagged cases.As these final weeks play out, the air of frustration surrounding the final batch of departed souls will be thick enough to cut with a Ginsu knife, as that group will have collapsed at a critical pass. Quite a stark contrast to the first few to get wheeled in here.As for this week's collection of cadavers, they fell somewhere in the middle: optimistic at times, but never with blinders.And speaking of blind, maybe a few of em checked off the 'eyes' box on their organ donor cards....Subject: San Diego ChargersDate of Death: December 16, 2012Record at Time of Death: 5-9Contributing Factors to Death:1. Trouble RunningOver the past decade, the Chargers have had an in-flux backfield that boasted a who's who of superstars.From Darren Sproles to Mike Tolbert, Michael Turner to future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson, there's no doubt Philip Rivers (and at one time, Drew Brees) had a plethora of attractive weapons at their disposal.What happened?All four backs left the Chargers without San Diego getting anything in return (LT was outright released), and the dice has seen been rolled with 2010 first-rounder Ryan Mathews.The Chargers have the sixth-worst rushing offense in the NFL, averaging just 93.1 yards a game.Part of that is on the offensive line, who's been plagued with injuries and general ineptitude throughout the season. Another big part of the problem has been Ryan Mathews, averaging a career 3.8 YPC, with only one TD. He averages 58.9 YPG.Mathews battled injuries himself through the year, and a case of fumblitis even saw him benched in favor of Jackie Battle, an extreme emergency option in Kansas City a year ago.2. Rivers Under AttackThat same offensive line that has been a malfunction in the running junction has also been a pain in the neck of Philip Rivers, perhaps literally.The best example of the breaches in security Rivers has had to deal with can be seen in Week 5, when the Saints scored their first victory of the season. A hobbled Jared Gaither, San Diego's left tackle, was badly beaten by New Orleans' Martez Wilson, who strip-sacked Rivers and ended the game.Gaither was so badly limping (it was later revealed to be a groin injury) that Cris Collinsworth virtually called the forthcoming sack before the ball was even snapped.Rivers has been sacked 43 times in 4 games, the second highest total in the league behind Aaron Rodgers (45). Difference is, Rodgers is noted for his snap release, and has a cast of characters around him that has rotated less than what Rivers deals with.Other than Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd, and maybe the emerging Danario Alexander, there isn't a whole lot of reliability around him.And how's this for eye-opening: from 2008-2010, Rivers led the NFL in yards-per-pass attempt in those 3 straight years (8.4, 8.8, and 8.7 YPA respectively).In 2012, his total has dropped to 6.7 YPA. He also has 3290 yards, meaning he'll probably miss throwing 4000 yards for the first time since 2007.3. Give Up the Big PlaysThe Chargers defense has proven skilled at stopping the run (3.84 YPA, fifth best in the league), but other areas of their D have helped contribute to their ruin.Great as their run defense is, they can't make the stops when they matter. San Diego has the fourth worst defensive third down percentage, a 42.6 make-rate. 80 of 188 attempts have been made by opponents on third down.The Chargers are tied for the seventh worst amount of sacks in the NFL with 27 as a team. Those third-and-long situations are much more makeable when your quarterback has more time to throw.It's not as if the Chargers are a bottom-of-the-barrel team that gets crushed week to week. Six of their nine losses are by 10 points or less, and they even beat the Steelers in a meaningful game.It's just when it's time to come up with a stop, the defense simply can't do it.(For all previously written autopsies, including the Eagles, Browns, Bills, and others, click here)
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Isaiah Thomas led charge against Kevin Love

Baker Mayfield addresses Johnny Manziel comparisons

2018 NBA All-Star Game reserves announced

Report: Rob Gronkowski in good spirits, Patriots optimistic he'll play in Super Bowl LII

Astros' Jon Singleton receives 100-game suspension

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jalen Rose: ‘Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio’

WWE fires Enzo Amore in wake of rape accusation

Report: NFL wants Raiders to sign Kaepernick after Rooney ruling

Jay Feely: Gisele tried to get me to convince Tom Brady to retire

Raiders to make a run at Le’Veon Bell if he becomes free agent?

Jerry Jones: Jason Garrett is not on the hot seat

The 'OK, so it's not always good to be The King' quiz

How to stop a Pats comeback: Never think you're ahead

How the Philadelphia Eagles arrived at Super Bowl LII

How the New England Patriots arrived at Super Bowl LII

Close calls: 20 MLB greats who came closest to Cooperstown but never made it

Nine reasons why the Eagles will beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII

The surprising failure of Jason Kidd

How things have changed since last Eagles-Pats Super Bowl

The Chicago Bulls' future is on the clock

Position-by-position breakdown of Super Bowl LII teams

The 'More things change...' quiz

Greatest surprise Super Bowl stars

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Close calls: 20 MLB greats who came closest to Cooperstown but never made it

The 'OK, so it's not always good to be The King' quiz

How to stop a Pats comeback: Never think you're ahead

How the Philadelphia Eagles arrived at Super Bowl LII

Greatest surprise Super Bowl stars

Position-by-position breakdown of Super Bowl LII teams

Oldest players to ever be on Super Bowl rosters

The 'More things change...' quiz

How the New England Patriots arrived at Super Bowl LII

Players with the most Super Bowl appearances

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker