Chargers vs. Bears 2013: Protecting Philip Rivers still an issue in San Diego

Philip Rivers is in there somewhere. Trust me. - Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Spor

The star quarterback was sacked three times during the Chargers' preseason loss to the Bears, continuing a concerning trend in San Diego.

Losing by five points in a preseason game isn't much cause for concern. Having your starters fall behind by 20 points in the first half is.

That was Thursday night's story for the San Diego Chargers, who lost to the Chicago Bears, 33-28, and were down 20-0 just 14 minutes into the second quarter.

Their first-half dumpster fire was filled with several disturbing trends that Chargers fans have become accustomed to over the last few seasons, including the inability to keep Philip Rivers off the turf. Three sacks of the star quarterback in Thursday night's game didn't do much to reassure the team's followers, writes Richard Wade of Bolts from the Blue:

The Chargers still have a problem protecting Philip Rivers. The team's No. 1 flaw of 2012 reared its ugly head Thursday night when the Bears sacked Rivers twice in the first quarter at Soldier Field. The Bears sacked Rivers again in the second quarter.

Rivers was sacked 49 times last season, second only behind Aaron Rodgers, and has been in the top five on that list in two of the last three years.

Rivers finished 5-of-9 for just 50 yards (still more than the Bears' passing numbers -- they finished with just 42 yards through the air as a team), but Brad Sorenson and Charlie Whitehurst were able to get things going after his departure. The pair combined for 223 yards and three touchdowns.

Backup quarterback play wasn't the only bright spot on offense, as Ryan Mathews and the ground game looked solid in the loss.

Writes Wade:

While the Chargers struggled under center and on special teams, the running game was a bright spot. Behind a retooled offensive line, Ryan Mathews led the Chargers with 45 yards rushing on nine carries. Edwin Baker gained 36 yards on five carries, and Fozzy Whitaker scored the team's only rushing touchdown on a 3-yard plunge near the end of the first half.

After Mathews recorded just 707 yards and a lone touchdown on the ground in yet-another injury-shortened season in 2012, the Chargers will take any good news they can in regards to the former first-round pick. Now they'll have to discuss the option of bundling him in bubble wrap and putting him in a corner until the regular season.

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