Ben on the Bolts: Mike McCoy v. Norv Turner

SAN DIEGO - There have been some bumps in the road to 4-4, but we’d all like to think the Chargers are headed in the right direction under Mike McCoy. Philip Rivers is playing well, the new offense seems well-suited for the personnel, and the defense…well, a couple of talented players are trying to hide the shortcomings of a below-average unit.

One thing’s for certain. Life is much better with Mike McCoy as head coach compared to the final, depressing days of Norv Turner. Or is it?

This might come as a surprise to those who have blocked Norv from their memories, but through eight games last season, the Chargers were also 4-4. Even with an abysmal offensive line, which contributed to an abundance of Philip  Rivers turnovers, the Chargers managed to scratch out 4 wins.

Fast-forward 12 months. Despite a vastly more effective Philip Rivers, aided by the acquisition of Danny Woodhead, and protected by a surprisingly solid offensive line, the Chargers have still only managed to win 4 games.

If you’re so inclined, you can give Mike McCoy and his new coaching staff the credit for the revival of Rivers. But that still doesn’t explain why the Chargers haven’t been more productive in the win column.

The defense has taken a step back, to be sure, and injuries have played a part in the decline. Still, the coaching miracles on the offensive side of the ball don’t seem to carry over to a unit giving up more yards than any other team in the NFL.

Maybe the late-game failures are simply masking this team’s improvement. After all, the Chargers could easily be 7-1 had they avoided a second half collapse vs. Houston, a defensive lapse in Tennessee, and a goal line gack in Washington.

Of course, last year’s team also coughed up a gigantic lead on Monday Night Football and were a questionable Melvin Ingram roughing-the-passer penalty away from taking control of their game in New Orleans. Had Robert Meachem made a wide-open catch in Cleveland, the 2012 Chargers could also have laid claim to a 7-1 record through 8 games.

The 2012 Chargers started the second half of their season by dropping four straight games, including matchups against Denver and Cincinnati. The 2013 Chargers begin the second half of their season with four tough games, including matchups against Denver and Cincinnati. Is history about to repeat itself?

I’m left to ask the question: What, exactly, is the difference between Norv Turner’s Chargers and Mike McCoy’s Chargers?

At this point, your guess is as good as mine.

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