San Diego Chargers Loss Bolts Them into an Offseason Full of Questions

Carlos SandovalAnalyst IIIJanuary 18, 2010

SAN DIEGO - JANUARY 17:  Quarterback Philip Rivers #17 and running back LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers celebrate a play against the New York Jets during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Qualcomm Stadium on January 17, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Another great year wasted.

That is exactly how Chargers' fans will react when asked about Sunday afternoon's shocking playoff loss to the Jets.

But rather than Charger-nation looking back on the season, they will most likely look ahead to the future, which may be headlined by a gloomy offseason.

After Sunday's divisional round loss to Southern California native Mark Sanchez and the Jets, all who follow the NFL began to speculate on who will stay in San Diego, and who will leave.

Among the names mentioned in such a discussion is future hall-of-fame running-back LaDainian Tomlinson, who's productivity has hit a career-low, averaging 3.3 yards per carry this season, and just 2 yards per carry against the Jets.

When asked about his future by a reporter, Tomlinson replied, "I've heard all the speculation...But I'll tell you what: I've had a heck of a time here. And if it is (the end), I've enjoyed the ride.''

Tomlinson, who has compiled 138 total touchdowns over his nine-year career, is expected to be released at the hands of Chargers' General Manager A.J. Smith.

In addition to LT's departure, many are expecting Nate Kaeding to be let go in the offseason, after missing three key field-goals against the Jets, which would have essentially kept the Jets at bay, rather than allowing them to rally in the second half.

Kaeding, who is the most accurate kicker in NFL history, has a reputation for missing field-goals in the playoffs. In 2004, Kaeding missed a potential game-winning field goal against the Jets. In 2006, Kaeding missed yet another game-winning field goal against the Patriots. On Sunday, Kaeding missed two field goals from 40 yards and under, despite being considered "automatic" from such range.

While Kaeding's and Tomlinson's departures are the focus of offseason speculation, the firing of Norv Turner seems possible. Norv Turner has not missed the playoffs since becoming coach of the Chargers, but the Chargers have shorter playoff tenures every year under Turner.

In 2007, Turner inherited a San Diego team fresh off of a 14-2 season, and led them to an AFC Championship game after beating the Titans and the heavily favored Colts, only to lose to the then-undefeated Patriots. In the 2009 playoffs, Norv's Bolts entered the playoffs with a record of just 8-8.

They did, however, beat the Colts in the wild-card round, but lost to Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers. This year, however, was reminiscent of Marty Schottenheimer's last year in San Diego. Norv entered the 2010 playoffs with a 13-3 record, and lost to the Jets in their first game of the playoffs.

Though none of these departures may occur, we can expect some major changes in San Diego after failing to get to the Super Bowl in their five playoff appearances in the last six years. One thing is for certain: The Chargers' window of opportunity is closing.