Dear Mr. Spanos,
This letter is coming from a person who has been an avid Charger fan since 1976. And I have not even lived in San Diego since 1981! I have stayed with the Chargers through thick and thin. The 2-14 seasons, the 1-15 seasons, the dark eras of Dan Henning and Ryan Leaf. So I am not writing this as a fickle fan.
I am also not trying to over react to to the 2-3 record. Sure, the Chargers could run off a string of victories and end up 11-5 – especially given the weak schedule they have in front of them. But it is not so much the record this year, as well as the way they are losing.
We can point to the slow starts in 2007 and 2008 and how the team came back to get in the playoffs. Last year they lost on a last second TD (Carolina) where all they needed one stop and on the Ed Hochuli game.
But this year is different. This year, they are being man handled and blown out. Coach Turner said the team needs to play better. What I am afraid of is that this team may be playing the best they can – given the players abilities. What I am seeing is a lack of credible talent on this team to be perfectly honest.
Let me reflect back on history.
The Chargers had arguably the best all around team in the NFL in the late 70’s early 80’s. However, due to the ownership unrest (Klein wanting out and your dad learning the business) the team floundered for 10 years.
Then your dad made a very smart move and brought in one of the best GM’s in the business in Bobby Beathard. Bobby, along with Coach Ross turned the team into a winner in the mid 90’s. But then again, by making some horrible draft choices, and not letting the football men run the team, the Chargers went into a 10 year dark period.
You got smart and brought in another great GM ( Butler and his right hand man AJ,) let them do the job and they rebuilt this current team. A fun, dynamic, and exciting team to watch. You brought in a great head coach in Marty Shottenheimer. The team was a success again!
The past 5 years have been exciting and fun for Chargers fans. But I am getting a feeling though, that the Chargers are heading into a new dark age if something radical is not done. Who is your future RB? If you stay with the 3-4 who is the stud NT? Where is the dominant offensive line that is the lynch pin to any successful NFL team?
I see the same pattern of a period of 3-5 years of success, then a long period of a below average team. If you do not do something about his now, if you make the same mistakes as the past and sit on your laurels, if you fall too in love with the people who are running your team, I am afraid this pattern is going to repeat itself.
Denver has raised the ante on you. Mr. Bowlen fired a legend, a man who won 2 Superbowls, who was the savior of the Denver franchise. He went out and hired a young and dynamic coach (Josh McDaniels) who has a plan, who brings in veteran coaches around him (Mike Nolan), and who brings in key free agents (Brian Dawkins) to act as leaders. You will now be facing a Broncos team led by McDaniels for the next 10-15 years. If you do not do something radical, you will see your team be an also ran for a very long time.
I know you have a ton of respect for AJ Smith and what he has done for this team – as do I. He built an awesome team that was fun to watch. But AJ has not put a competitive team on the field. He has not back filled key positions. He brought in a very good offensive coordinator as a head coach (who has done an awesome job with Rivers) mainly because he “was on the same page” as him. I am sorry, I am sure he is a very nice man, but Turner is not an NFL head coach. Look at Wade Philips, Mike Nolan, Dan Henning, among others who are great coordinators but have not had success as head coaches.
AJ’s time is up. I know you just signed him to a long term deal, and so politically it may not be an easy thing to do. But do you think it was easy for Bowlen to fire Shanahan?
Also keep in mind that you just signed Rivers for $92 Million for the next 6 years. If you do not build a team around Rivers, you will have wasted this money – a whole lot more then you are paying AJ.
You have an opportunity this off season to make sure history does not repeat itself. There are 4 very good ex head coaches (Holmgreen, Gruden, Cowher, Shanahan) out there that I bet would love to live in San Diego. I am getting the feeling they are all chomping at the bit to get back to coaching. However, it would need to be the right situation for any of them and they will all want control of the personnel side as well as the coaching side.
So you can either do the easy thing and sit tight with AJ and Norv and hope for the best. Or you can be bold, like Mr. Bowlen, and go out hire one of these four men to run the team for you.
I hope for the Chargers and its fans sake, you can be brave enough to make the right choice.