The 2009-10 Chargers: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly....
To the San Diego Chargers, I want to start by congratulating all of you for a successful season. I have been a fan of this franchise and team for the last 30 years, and this was as fine a season as we have ever had.
It's not easy finishing even in the top eight, in a league as hotly contested over the short term as the NFL. All of you certainly made this a memorable season, and played some excellent football down the stretch. It has to be noted that the NFL playoffs are a one-game format, and anything can happen. With that said, it was an exciting year, and I cannot wait for next season to begin.
I think the hardest part of yesterdays loss is that we basically laid an egg as a unit, and did a lot of the things that made us look like the team that started the season 2-3, not the squad that would reel off 10 straight victories shortly after.
And so, without further adieu...
Phillip Rivers : This was not the best game for Rivers, however, he did what he could, and never quit. I might also add that he continued to mindlessly call the exact same plays that were being sent in to him (despite the fact that every one in the stadium knew what was coming at times). The kid is good, and the kid is coachable. This is the "Dan Fouts" we have searched for. He may make us old guys forget him, in fact.
Norv Turner : Yeah yeah. I know. On this day, he was out-coached, and stood by blindly in the late second and entire third quarter, as we sent in ridiculous, mundane, and undisguised plays. But, it was evident that he took back the play calling sometime in the early fourth quarter, when for almost two full quarters we could not get a first down, and put us in a position to win this game.
Norv's coaching staff did not win this game, I will not kid you, however, he is learning as he goes, and this team needs stability going into next year. I am of the opinion that you never fire a coach that wins 13 games. We made that mistake with Marty Schottenheimer. Vince Lombardi he is not, but he held the ship together this season as a whole, and is becoming more and more successful. There is no reason to believe that we cannot contend again next year with Norv at the helm. This core has only one more year, until they will all start to fall by the wayside. Next year or never, for Norv!
Darren Sproles : I hate to say it, but I am of the opinion that the Chargers will jettison LT (LT is my favorite Charger of all time, aside from Dan Fouts). By the end of the game, Darren was playing as our feature back. This O-line has struggled moving the chains via the run all year. Darren was out there, and didn't quit. It seemed like they pulled and sat LT after he was unable to do much out there. All Darren can do is play the best he can. He will never fill the shoes of LT, but he is a fine running back, and good ambassador for this team.
LaDainian Tomlinson : LT, I feel for you dude. You are one of the greatest RB's to ever tie on a set of cleats. You took the loss yesterday like you always do. Blankly. Professionally. With class, Sir (a little pouty as always). While you may never again look like the LT of old, you will always be one of my favorite players, and a class act. My hope for you is a year with a true contender. Paul Hornung, Emmitt Smith, and Edgerrin James were phenomenal players as well, but they too were replaced eventually. You either retire early, or take a less prominent role as an RB in the NFL these days. Like Ray Bourque in hockey, my advice to you is to join a high level contender, accept a role, and walk out with a ring. You deserve it. A demotion is all that is in store for you here. A shame.
Ron Rivera : Again, I can hear the groans. This game notwithstanding, Ron has done what he can with what he has. No team in the NFL could lose a perennial pro bowler in Jamal Williams, and still win 13. Ronnie has it together, but does need to try to coach in discipline a lot better. The d played not bad yesterday. Our lack of discipline as a team, was mostly to blame. We gave away 87 free yards in penalties. Ron sends in plays, and designs schemes. He doesn't take a single snap.
Play calling : This was all year. At times we almost seemed obtuse out there. We have some of the most dynamic offensive personnel in the league. Yet, we continue to try the exact same plays, in the exact same order...
First down...plunge off tackle for 1.25 yds (behind a banged up o line)
Second down...drop pass down the middle, just over the line of scrimmage...(4 yards)
Third Down...screen pass or plunge off tackle...for 1.25 yards...(occasional bomb attempt)
No check down. No short pass. No sweep runs. No Draws. No o line movement. No formations. No audibles.
No Creativity...period. You have three guys that go 6'5, and yet you refuse to pass it to them, even in single coverage...it just reeked, and it came and went all year long. It reared its ugly head, after a several game disappearance, yesterday, at home, to a team with a rookie qb, and a first year head coach.
Vincent Jackson : Vinnie Jack is a fabulous talent, for little regard for authority of any type. Who would you rather have, a modest, smaller Marvin Harrison, or this pissed off jerk, an Adonis with hands as soft as corinthian leather? After he kicked the flag yesterday, I can tell you who I was thinking. This genius got a speeding ticket at 930 am on his way to the game. (one of several legal issues) To be honest, I am surprised he didn't "bolt" from the scene. (bad pun intended) Re sign him, with a cooperative clause in his contract that affects his contract amount should he get in any off or on field trouble. If he doesn't like it, get someone who can at least put the team above himself. Vincent, you are lucky to be what and who you are. Go and read the life story of Chris Henry, and try to realize that you have more talent than he, in your left pinkie. Straighten up, and fly right. Go talk to Tony Dungy, about how to best do this. You need to change your attitude, as much as you needed to reach out and touch Revis on the interception yesterday.
Shaun Phillips : Shaun you have a different problem than Vincent "I fought authority, authority always wins" Jackson. Your mouth, and body move at light speeds faster than your brain. I challenge you Sir, to go back into the annals of history, and find me one team, that won a SuperBowl, in the afterglow of a "headbutting" penalty in the playoffs. Seriously, That was a joke, at the wrong time dude. You let down your entire team, with your inability to just play the game. Unprofessional. Try being a leader for this group. (see Ray Lewis, Gary Brackett, Jonathan Vilma for details)
Discipline : The book is out on us. We do this. We have a few guys on this team that put the name on the back of the jersey, in front of the Bolts on their shoulders. Its a disgrace. Kicking flags? Headbutting? Picking fights? These teams show up knowing that if they goad us, we will bite every time. It only takes one stupid penalty, and we had several.
Stop showing us how tough you are. Start showing us how you can win at this game, within the rules, when it matters.
Fundamentals : I mean, an arm tackle, in the playoffs is not going to cut er. Trying to strip the ball ahead of tackling a guy at the waist is "Pop Warner". Dropping balls delivered into your hands perfectly. Not even trying to pick up a blitz that the qb pointed right at, and shouted out a number for. Missing field goals from inside the 40. False starts, delay of games, and bad snaps."
In "Any Given Sunday" in the sauna scene, Lawrence Taylor says what I am thinking here. There are a thousand guys out there who would give anything in this world to be you. Try practicing and playing like it. Stick to what you know, and stop worrying about being on ESPN with celebratory dances.
Nate Kaeding : Nate, I love ya, you wimpy looking dude. But you have to go. This is a story ridiculously like Mike Vanderjagt. Great Regular season kicker, has no nerve. You hit ONE yesterday, and we are tied. You hit two, and we win. I am sorry, we can't keep doing this. Remember what happened in Indianapolis, when Vandershank was released, and Vinateri was hired. It was a Super Year for them. This was a playoff year, and you get paid to stand in front of the cup, and hit putt after putt. Two chip shots, and an eagle try fell by the wayside, with our super bowl hopes yesterday. That was ridiculous, and we will not win until we can count on you in the clutch. As it sits today, given your past, we simply cannot, Sir. Don't fire Norv. Let Kaeding know that next year, he is kicking for his job on this team, and a pro bowl appearance is nice, but a clutch kick would sure help.
AJ Smith : I am sorry, but this team has needs. Last year, we took Larry English as our number one. Now, with the current uncapped rules, we can only sign our own free agents. (not like he would go after a FA anyway) This year, we need guys on the o line, and on the d line...like bad, and guys that can play at a high level right away. Get a draft plan and stick with it. The problems with this team will not just go away, if you draft into a department, we already have a pro bowler in. (ie Larry English, whom I will address in a sec) You started out incredibly. Lets get back to it.
Shawne Merriman : Shawne, sadly is proof that you can ruin a potential Hall of Fame career with a major injury, in this sport, in about two seconds. I am sorry kid, but whatever you had, is long gone. Larry English, I am assuming was picked, so that you could go. I wish you luck, but don't really want to see you in Bolts next year. the problem with Shawne is that he is focused so much on looking and acting tough. Well, you are both Sir, but a pro bowler, you no longer are. Thank goodness you got rid of the stupid "tough" looking haircut. AJ save your money on this one. He is done. (Lavar Arrington)
D line : We lost Jamal Williams, who is amazing, and that doesn't help. But we could not stop the run this year. Is it our 3 4 defense? Is it injuries, which we did have an abundance of. Is it that we should have drafted Rey Maualuga, who would have helped a team that at the beginning of the year, which also could not stop the run up the middle? Yes, but mostly its that Cesaire, Glasstillo, and Boone/Nwuaooga booga/Martins simply could not do the job. We need a dominant de on this team. We do not have one on the bench, or in the games. Lets try drafting or trading for one. This line intimidates NOBODY without Jamal.
O line : The O line could not get the run moving. Losing Hardwick was a problem. But seriously, we finished with a ridiculously low rushing total, for a team with a first ballot hof rb. Again, we need help here, and the draft is a good place to fix it.
I welcome fair, and non insulting commentary.
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