Carolina now has a win streak – picking up second win in a row at San Diego. The game, much like the location, had to feel like a vacation, as San Diego trailed from the start and never caught up. A pair of quick Mike Tolbert TDs, the second of which came soon after the first due to a Chargers fumble, covered the game with ten minutes in. A third score by Deangelo Williams pulled in a 21-0 first quarter lead, and the game was already over. Steve Smith chipped in another TD for good measure.
It was a matchup of two downtrodden teams, one guaranteed a coach firing at the end of the year, and the other all but guaranteed. The Chargers will fire GM AJ Smith; Carolina has already fired GM Marty Hurney. Both teams face a rebuild of sorts, both know who their QB/RB situations will feature.
I’m a little surprised the Chargers are facing such hard times. While Norv Turner’s never struck me as the most amazing head coach, his offensive principles are top notch; Phillip Rivers has been the most efficient QB at times. Losing Vincent Jackson hurt, but Malcolm Floyd looked like he should’ve been good enough to replace him. They’ve willingly let so many good backs leave (Tolbert seemed to have a chip on his shoulder, odd for a guy who took less money to leave), but Ryan Matthews should be good enough to make the rest happen. Losing Ron Rivera and Rob Chudzinski has hurt Turner (followed by Steve Wilks), but after a year of Greg Manusky, I felt like John Pagano would be a solid DC there (and he’s been allright).
As for Tolbert, they were dead set on getting him the ball at the goal line, pulling Williams on the first drive near the end zone and setting up plays for Tolbert (the would-be touchdown pass was knocked away by Shawn Phillips, before the flying leap). There’s no doubting it, Tolbert deserves his touches, and he’s just fun to watch. He’s legitimately the third best back on staff right now, but he’s the most fun. He looks like a short Charles Johnson out there, but he bounces off guys. Watching him juke Brian Urlacher was just fun – I don’t care if he’s not what he used to be, that’s still Brian Urlacher. Either way, I look forward to Tolbert getting the ball next year, and I hope that (assuming Deangelo Williams does move on) Jonathan Stewart proves durable. Stew had a pretty good streak of health, but since being named starter, it’s been tough out there for him.