I have read quite a few articles declaring the San Diego Chargers fools for letting LaDainian Tomlinson go.
There is no doubt the Chargers were correct for letting the most decorated player in their history walk; the Chargers treated LT with the utmost respect and did not try to control his destination by trading him, feeling it would be a “slap in the face.”
Tomlinson has worked a lot harder (or should I say smarter) this offseason than for the last couple offseasons—his playing weight is listed at 215 pounds, at least six pounds lighter (possibly more) than he was in San Diego. Speaking from experience, losing weight after the age of 30 makes a huge difference in one's quickness; Tomlinson looks as quick as he did at the end of the 2007 season when he was like a cat.
Competing for His Job in New York
Tomlinson had been a slow starter since the Chargers started holding him out of the line up every preseason.
Playing a full preseason for the Jets has certainly seemed to help—it appeared Tomlinson was a slug once again at the beginning of the 2010 preseason, only to heat up as the preseason went along.
Tomlinson hit the regular season in stride for the first time since 2003. Lets not get crazy, he's not running as well as he did in 2006 or the end of 2007. In those seasons he was otherworldly, but he at least looks like he could be the same man.
In 2009, the Chargers finally allowed LT to play in the preseason with good results: Tomlinson was averaging 4.23 yards per carry against the Oakland Raiders before going down with yet another injury.
Tomlinson's arrival in New York also allowed him the opportunity to compete for his spot, meaning he had to work harder by default. Had Tomlinson been forced to compete for his job in San Diego, one can assume that he would have taken it as an insult.
Also, don't believe for one second that LT didn't see Shonn Greene's swipe at him in the playoffs last season. LT must be internally laughing at Greene after taking his job.
Chargers Correct to Allow Tomlinson to Leave
In five of his final six seasons with the Chargers, Tomlinson has had a significant injury that has hampered his performance.
Tomlinson's injury marred playoff performances helped the Jets win two playoff games in San Diego, and almost surely kept the Bolts out of the 2007 Super Bowl.
In the San Diego's eight playoff games during the LT era, Tomlinson only produced one 100 yard game which was one of only two playoff games he's been healthy for.
The oft-injured superstar is singing the praises of his injury-free self for now. It remains to be seen if he'll still be singing come playoff time.
San Diego Running with Power, Passing, with Authority
The Chargers passing attack, which Tomlinson vehemently disliked during his final years in San Diego, was born out of necessity.
Tomlinson and Darren Sproles, the Chargers top running backs, were not getting the job done, barely rushing for three yards per carry, so the Chargers turned to Philip Rivers to move the ball.
Tomlinson complained about San Diego's pass oriented offensive line in the offseason, yet Mike Tolbert bowled over defenses for nearly six yards per carry behind the same line. Tolbert is steamrolling defenses once again, proving that last season was not a fluke.
With the superstar Tomlinson out of the way, the Chargers are free to elevate Tolbert to his rightful place as a prime contributor rather than rarely used backup.
Rookie Ryan Mathews was brought in to replace Tomlinson, but he hasn't earned the right to complain about Mike Tolbert getting the starting nod if he's not 100 percent healthy. Tomlinson frequently played injured.
Now that Tolbert and Mathews have helped the offense become more balanced, the Chargers attack may regain the title as the league's best.