Ben on the Bolts: 3 questions after Chargers 20-16 loss to Dolphins

Time once again for my Chargers "3 Questions" blog...a question that was answered, a question that was left unresolved, and a new question that was created during the course of the game. Here's the Chargers vs. Dolphins edition:

QUESTION ANSWERED: Will the Chargers sneak into the playoffs in 2013?  Sadly, it appears the answer to this question will be no. Had the Chargers won yesterday's game, they would have moved into the 6th slot in the AFC playoff chase by virtue of a 5-5 record and a conference record tiebreaker over the Jets. The loss was costly, though, dropping the Chargers all the way to 13th in the AFC standings, losing every tiebreaker to other 4-6 teams like the Titans, Raiders, Ravens, Steelers, and Browns. To have any shot at the playoffs, the Chargers will now need to go 6-0, or at least 5-1 with a great deal of help. Bad news in Bolt town.

QUESTION UNRESOLVED: How do the Chargers solve their problems in the red zone?  Once again, settling for field goals instead of touchdowns likely cost the Chargers a win, but the problems extend beyond the 20-yard line. As solid as Nick Novak has been this season, the Chargers should expect at least 3 points every time they drive inside the opponent's 35-yard line. Well, that happened on 8 of 10 possessions against the Dolphins. Just kick a field goal every time, and the Bolts score 24 points, enough to win the game. Once again, however, the Chargers gave up too many negative plays (sacks and penalties) once they got within shouting distance of the endzone, converting just one touchdown and three field goals out of those 8 opportunities.

QUESTION CREATED: What area of weakness will be the Chargers' biggest concern in the offseason? While secondary play remains a huge problem, drafting one cornerback will hardly fix the team's defensive issues. Cam Thomas has struggled as an every down nose tackle, and the Chargers still need more help on the offensive line to protect Philip Rivers. Tom Telesco and his scouting department will be busy over the next few months.

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