San Diego Chargers: Bye Week Means Relief for Fans, My Dad
My dad's a pretty old-fashioned guy.
Strong willed, doesn't say much, doesn't express much in the ways of emotion. What you see is what you get, and sometimes, things are better left unsaid. Which is why it's such a kick to watch him on Sunday afternoons.
Few things in life excite him as much as the National Football League does.
Sure, he always tells stories about how great it felt to watch his sons being born (I, of course, either wasn't there or don't remember), how great it is to reel in a marlin from the ocean that's twice your size (again, not there), but to me, the window into his true personality can be observed for a few faint hours on Sundays and sometimes Mondays or Thursdays.
Charger games bring out the best and worst in his emotional gamut every fall and winter.
Anyone following the Bolts this season even just a little bit might be able to guess where my father's gamut has been leaning this season.
The losses, predictably, have been worse.
"What makes Norv think the same play is going to work twice in two weeks? You can run Sproles up the middle against the Raiders, but Ray Lewis and the Ravens? (expletives deleted)," he said after a tough loss to Baltimore.
"I haven't seen the team play this bad since Mike Riley was coaching the team."
(Letting you know that expletives were deleted from the second quote is useless considering I basically had to restructure and rephrase that quote from a tirade of insults and terms that would make George Carlin blush.)
My father, like many Charger fans, were upset with Marty Schottenheimer's life-long trauma when it comes to coaching in the playoffs, in which he and his pupils would freeze up and be unable to perform in January.
So, when Marty was fired a few years back, he was understandably relieved.
When general manager A.J. Smith hired Norv Turner to get the Bolts over the hump, he was wary, but optimistic.
"It's unfair to judge a guy who's never had this much talent on his roster in the past as a head coach," my father said.
Fair enough. Turner was the architect for many explosive Dallas Cowboys teams in his days as an offensive coordinator, but had failed miserably in Washington and Oakland when it came down to running the whole show.
Well, it's also fair to judge him now, as many already have, asking for his head in the process.
For two years, Turner's teams have been the antithesis of Marty's teams.
Mediocre underachievers in the regular season, but effective in the postseason to a point.
In 2007, they struggled out of the gate, only to finish strong in the second half at 11-5.
Victories over Tennessee and Indianapolis set up an AFC title game with the undefeated Patriots, and sans the injured Antonio Gates and LaDainian Tomlinson; but with Philip Rivers (who played on one leg), gave them trouble well into the fourth quarter.
In 2008, it took a massive Denver collapse and a massive Charger uprising to make the playoffs at 8-8.
In 2009? Injuries have decimated both sides of the football, and in that regard, it could actually be considered admirable that San Diego's hanging tough through it all.
Jamal Williams, Shawne Merriman, Tomlinson, Nick Hardwick, Travis Johnson, and Ryon Bingham are among those who are either lost for the year or have missed time with injuries.
Any time you're missing four Pro Bowlers, of which one is the main run-stopping cog in a 3-4 defense, or a Hall-of-Fame running back, an explosive pass rusher and one of the best centers in football, you're going to suffer.
For the Chargers, this has translated to being dominated on both the offensive and the defensive lines, having a non-existent running game, and putting little to no pressure on the quarterback.
Sure, we're only barely wrapping up Week Five, but elsewhere in the division, those pesky Broncos who were supposedly too rattled with inner turmoil and led by a bratty, immature, glorified assistant, are now 5-0.
Oh, and they're coming into town next Monday night.
The Broncos revamped their defense with what were seemingly spare parts and burned-out veterans, but now dominate their opposition with two things the Chargers sorely need.
Brutal physicality and inner fire.
There's hunger in their eyes, an underdog mentality and a will to win every time they're on the field.
Can the same be said for the Chargers?
My dad is having his own bye week right now, spending some down time in Europe as part of his second honeymoon extravaganza, (including two trips to Vegas this year already) but I was able to extract a quote from him before he left:
"We better not lose to the (expletive) Broncos, or else we're (expletive) screwed."
The rest of San Diego County probably echoes that statement.
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