Jay Paris: Chargers home for the playoffs with fade to the finish

Maybe the Chargers went to Kansas City and got them a crazy little woman.

What they didn’t snag was a win, and that my friend, drops the curtain on the season.

“This team gave it all they’ve got for 60 minutes for the last 17 weeks,’’ coach Mike McCoy said. “I can promise you that.’’

That’s great, Coach, and welcome to the pros. The players should give it their all because each week they get a fat paycheck.

Effort is fine — but this ain’t youth sports.

Results ring true, and on that front, the Chargers (9-7) got the back of a hand.

Was this Chargers season a disaster?

Far from it.

This is the entertainment business and that roller-coaster trek the Chargers led was a hoot: beating the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks, a five-game winning steak and those dramatic come-from-behind wins at Baltimore and San Francisco.

But every year has dips: getting shut out in Miami, being smoked at Denver and losing three of their past four, which includes Sunday’s face-plant in Kansas City.

The Chargers won as many games as last year, but they didn’t show progress by missing the playoffs.

That the Chargers didn’t advance — especially with their fate in their own mitts — is a failure.

But what about injuries? From center Nick Hardwick to running back Ryan Mathews to wide receiver Keenan Allen, the Chargers were decimated.

So what.

An NFL insider told me years ago that injuries are the first exit on the highway of excuses.

Everyone has them, or didn’t you notice the Chiefs were without quarterback Alex Smith, safety Eric Berry and linebacker Derrick Johnson?

That’s why when football folks brag about being part of the ultimate team sport, they’re not lying.

If you don’t possess the depth to replace starters, that’s on you.

What’s on McCoy and offensive coordinator Frank Reich is their offensive plan against the Chiefs. It looked as out of place as a vegan in a K.C. barbecue joint.

Philip Rivers was sacked seven times and good luck scoring more than one touchdown — the Chargers didn’t — with that pass protection.

Where were the adjustments to stymie the Chiefs meeting at the pocket? Where were the screens, the play-action, the backs staying in and the tight ends remaining on the tackles’ hips.

Why was tight end Antonio Gates ignored for large chunks of the game? Did Malcolm Floyd make the team bus? Why were the Chargers giving the ball to a third-string running back to squeeze behind a fifth-string center when a precious yard was required to keep the playoff hopes on life support?

I don’t know either and we’re sure McCoy will respond that it was in the best interest of the team before everyone dozes off.

McCoy promised a dynamic, innovative offense, even if Reich was breaking his seal as a coordinator.

Instead McCoy’s blueprint, with Reich’s calls, presented a dull, lackluster approach where the next trick play will be its first.

In five of the last eight games, the offense collected one or fewer touchdowns.

In three of the last four outings, the offense topped out at reaching the end zone once.

That’s OK with a punishing defense. That’s not true in San Diego, although that side of the ball was more efficient in the season’s second half.

In Kansas City, Rivers’ unit was two for 11 on third downs, turned the ball over three times — all by Rivers — and scored that glorious one touchdown.

That’s not good enough and the Chargers aren’t good enough for the playoffs.

It’s hard to argue you’re sixth-best in your conference when you’re third-best in your division.

The Chargers were swept by the Broncos and Chiefs and thank goodness for the hapless Raiders.

This year will be remembered for the Chargers not knowing what fork to grab while at the big-boy table.

While that win over Seattle was swell, the Chargers were 3-6 against teams with a winning record.

Beating up on the Raiders, Jaguars, Jets and Rams is grand because who doesn’t like cupcakes?

But the proof was in the pounding, and that’s happened when the Chargers went up a class.

The Chargers’ sky, though, isn’t cascading toward the earth. There is a core group of players to build around and it’s time for general manager Tom Telesco to get busy.

He must decide whether to bring back Mathews (no), King Dunlap (yes) and Eddie Royal (yes).

He must draft wisely, hoping his third class resembles his first in D.J. Fluker, Manti Te’o and Allen. Last year’s haul was average at best: Jason Verrett played in six games, Jerry Attaochu had two sacks and Chris Watt started five games.

Looking ahead can’t come soon enough for an organization that has missed the playoffs in four of the past five years and has two postseason wins since 2008.

The Chargers are eager to chat about building a stadium.

That’s fine, and we don’t blame them.

More importantly, though is the rebuilt team they put in those fresh digs.

Contact Jay Paris at jparis8@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports and at mighty1090.com

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