San Diego Chargers: Who's Really to Blame in San Diego?
Nobody wants to play the blame game, seeing as it's not just one player or coaches' fault for the meltdown on Monday Night Football. Half the people are blaming Norv Turner, while the other half are saying Philip Rivers must go.
Really? Philip Rivers must go? Didn't we learn our lesson with Drew Brees? A quarterback is only as good as what he has around him. Besides an aging Pro Bowl tight end and an elusive running back that never gets used, the Chargers offense is mediocre.
Rather than blame Philip Rivers or Norv Turner, let's go straight to the top. The complete reason San Diego has turned into an average team is a direct result of the way A.J. Smith controls the franchise. Same things goes with Alex Spanos for keeping A.J. Smith, who kept Norv Turner. This team is on the verge of being one of the worst team in the NFL, mainly because of how it's run.
San Diego's talent level is not as strong as it was a few years ago. Vincent Jackson and Darren Sproles are the biggest key losses for the offense in recent seasons. What Smith thinks is best for the team, is actually the complete opposite.
Eli Manning didn't want to play for the Chargers. That's not a surprise. LaDainian Tomlinson, at one point, questioned whether he'd retire a Charger if A.J. Smith still sat at the GM position. San Diego is not somewhere players want to be. The only ones who have stuck around, guys like Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, are getting thrashed for the team's play.
Watching the games, it seems as if only a few players are playing with heart out there: Antonio Gates, Eric Weddle, Philip Rivers, Donald Butler, Takeo Spikes and Shaun Phillips. Ryan Mathews would be on that list if he was actually treated the way he should be. Yes, Mathews carried the ball 22 times, but 16 of them were in the first half, when they had a 24-0 lead.
A.J. Smith cannot hold onto talent. He is stubborn, arrogant and will not give money to players who deserve it, like Vincent Jackson. It looked like a good decision bringing in Royal and Meachem for Jackson, but not so much now. Regardless of the talent, his biggest mistake is bringing Norv Turner back year after year.
In Monday Night's embarrassment, Chargers fans started getting Norvous, and then were Norv'ed. Listen, San Diego led 24-0 at halftime, and then came out and had an entire new game plan. Give credit to the way the Broncos offense played, although the Chargers defense was a mess, which isn't a surprise. The secondary, aside from Eric Weddle, is horrible.
Anyways, back to Norv. As mentioned above, Ryan Mathews ran the ball 16 times in the first half, helping give them the 24-0 lead. In the second half, Norv decided to "fix what wasn't broken" and only give him the ball six times. Ronnie Brown and Jackie Battle began subbing in more often, and Brown was the only running back seen in the closing minutes of the game, the most crucial aspect. Antonio Gates had five catches in the first half, including two touchdowns. In the second half, he only had one. Seeing this makes you wonder what plays were being called, and how they were different from the first half.
What did Norv tell his team in the locker room at halftime? Did he think the Broncos would just roll over and let San Diego cruise to victory? What did he tell them after the first Denver score? The second? Or every single one after that?
Philip Rivers had one of his worst games of his career without a doubt. His decisions have been costly, leading to a 3-3 record. I understand where people are coming from with they put the blame on Philip Rivers, but I strongly disagree. He's being protected by an undrafted rookie and a right tackle that shouldn't be starting for any team in the NFL. He isn't mobile and is strictly a pocket passer, yet he isn't getting the pocket needed. Rivers has almost no weapons, due to injuries keeping them from practice, and no time.
Back to Norv. When Mathews is in the game, defenses can't tell whether it's a pass or run. It's 50/50 with No. 24. With Ronnie Brown is in the game, defenses assume it's a pass, which it is almost 95% of the time. People say he's an offensive genius. Not sure as to why they think that, giving the fact his calls are predictable and uncreative.
Honestly, the only reason Norv has a winning record with the San Diego Chargers is because of Philip Rivers. His prior seasons with the Raiders and 49ers, before joining the Chargers, resulted in a record of 8-24.
As much as it seems Norv Turner and Philip Rivers get along off the field, whether it be in interviews or the offseason, they look like they hate each other during the game.
Look at the 49ers. They are a great example. Alex Smith was considered a bust, after being taken ahead of Aaron Rodgers, and San Francisco was a below average team. Jim Harbaugh comes in and they become a powerhouse in the league within one season.
Philip Rivers deserves some blame, but very little.
It's time Norv Turner goes, as well as A.J. Smith. It needs to happen now. There are still 10 games left, and the playoffs are not out of reach. With Norv and Smith still in the franchise, they are.
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