Are the San Diego Chargers a "Lock" to Win the AFC West in 2009?

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IAugust 23, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 13:  Head coach Tom Cable talks with his quarterback JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys during the preseason game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on August 13, 2009 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Before I start, I must say that Judge did a halfway fair job. That however, implies that the other half was utter nonsense. To be fair, it is difficult to quantify truly the veracity of someone's opinion in percentages. 

Maybe it was actually 25 percent and 75 percent...and so on.

In the review, Judge highlighted the questions and progress around Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell, and his work with Ted Tollner and Paul Hackett.

I would say that the best comment on the future of JaMarcus Russell came from Nnamdi Asomugha.

"The perception out there is that this is his year," Asomugha said, "and perception is reality. [The question is] if it doesn't happen this year, will it ever happen? I don't know that he's carrying it like that or seeing it like that, but I do know that's how outsiders are viewing his situation."

Judge would eventually insert a questionable statement in a review about the Raiders:

Anything is possible in the AFC West...that is, anything but beating San Diego to the top. The Chargers are the class of the division and a lock to win their fourth straight title. It's places two through four that are uncertain, with Oakland having a legit shot at its highest finish since 2002, when it went to the Super Bowl.

Clearly, Judge is trying to screw with your mind. On one hand, he is suggesting that the Raiders could be better than Denver and Kansas City, but have no chance against San Diego. I concluded his intent from the fact that he said, "a legit shot at their highest finish since 2002."

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Yet, Judge is willing to call a .500 team that had to win-out in 2008 and one that benefited from the fortune of Denver's historic collapse a, "lock."

I hope you are not a betting person who thinks San Diego is a lock, because if you are, you could lose your house (if you have not already in this economy).

Granted, the Chargers were without Shawne Merriman in 2008, but going into 2009, the Chargers will have new challenges.  For one, the San Diego offense is now officially on the shoulders of Phillip Rivers. 

Rivers can no longer rely on LaDainian Tomlinson to carry the load, while Darren Sproles must prove he can run north and south, not just east and west and on returns. Thus, defenses will now target San Diego's average receivers in 2009, whereas in 2008, they had still focused on LaDainian Tomlinson.

Of course, Antonio Gates is above average, but has dealt with injuries and nearing that magic number of 30 where skill-position players tend to drop-off dramatically.

I have hit the nail on the head with San Diego in 2007 and 2008. When Norv Turner started, I figured they'd start slow and finish strong, because they had too much talent to be dragged down by Turner.

I know that Turner has done what Marty Schottenheimer never could and that's win games in the postseason.  But I wonder whether past success will be any indication of the future. In the NFL, it usually is not.

Turner is basically a drone for his superior, AJ Smith. That can be endearing in some employees, and can occasionally work in the NFL.

However, I still believe that LT in his prime, was an extraordinary player that dictated perceptions.  Only a few players per generation rise to that level, and after LT on the San Diego roster, I don't see any player on the offense that would meet that definition.

Thus, the target is on Phillip Rivers, but also on Norv Turner to develop more passing plays, because the Chargers will have to deal with Nnamdi "N/A" Asomugha when they play the Raiders. N/A shuts down his side of the field, thus Rivers will challenge Chris Johnson and the safeties.

The problem for San Diego though is that their receivers aren't fast enough to beat most safeties, so they'll probably challenge the corners and play a West Coast style of dink and dunk, but that will only provide ball-hawk opportunities for the Raiders.

If former first-round pick, Chris Davis, can step-up then the Chargers would have someone to challenge the safeties.

However, I foresee that San Diego will utilize more passing plays to Darren Sproles and avoid the north and south running attack UNLESS they have a lead.

The Chargers look about as good as Denver was last year—a .500 team that could win a few games because of "the breaks," but also, could lose a few games because of "the breaks."

All I am really saying is that, in a league where parity is king and the Dolphins can go from 1-15 to 11-5—then anything is possible.

That though, would disprove the veracity of labeling the Chargers a "lock."

The Language from the "Mass Media" about the Raiders

I did dislike some of the code words used by Judge however, such as "ex" when referring to Russell as the, "ex-No. 1 pick."

The term "ex" has a subversively derisive connotation when referring to a person, because it generally implies disgrace. That is why you do not refer to former presidents by "ex," unless they have been convicted in an impeachment trial. You also would not intentionally refer to a former Marine as "ex" unless you wanna fight.

Speaking as someone whose last name starts with "X," and whose original name "Xavier" means a 'bright new house' to paraphrase, I am well aware of the negative connotation behind the term, "ex." 

Frankly, I hope that Russell is a "bright new house" for a new era of excellence for the Raiders.

All the language and questions from the "mass media" about JaMarcus Russell though have been coded to condition people to think, "Russell has no chance."

Others on Sportsline.com, like Pete Prisco, have even phrased questions in subversive dichotomies about Russell such as, "Is he doomed to fail?"

Perhaps, I should spread questions about Pete Prisco, such as, "In these rough economic times, should Pete Prisco be downsized to save money?"

With that said, people like Prisco have such an uncanny ability to get it wrong about nearly everything that the only reason I bother to read his articles, is because I know that by thinking the opposite of what he thinks, I will almost always be right.

The most memorable instance was the postseason for the 2002-2003 Super Bowl.  Prisco picked the Jets over the Raiders, then the Titans over the Raiders. When he picked the Raiders over the Buccaneers, my gut knew that the Raiders would lose.

Reality is Affected by Perception and Perception is Created by Language

Often times, when people start to perceive something, it becomes true; despite the fact that, had the perception been the opposite, the situation could have yielded a different result.

I am of the belief that the "mass media" loves to spread lies about the Raiders, simply because it makes them feel good when they, "called it," even if their predictions were nothing more than self-fulfilling prophesies. 

Spread a lie long enough, eventually people believe it. That of course, includes the players, staff, and executives. 

One lie in particular has been the, "biggest post Super Bowl collapse in NFL history." That lie started in 2004, which means that you cannot determine the veracity of that statement based on 2004-2008, only by the 2003 season. You can disprove the statement qualitatively and quantitatively.

Since 2003, predicting the failure of the Raiders is one of the few times the, "mass media" will get anything right, thus it is in the interests of their ego and schadenfreude, to see the Raiders fail.

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