San Diego Charging Toward Mediocrity... Again

Eric GomezAnalyst IOctober 5, 2009

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 4:  Tight end Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers looks on after scoring a three-yard touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the third quarter at Heinz Field on October 4, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

For some, the bile, the discontent, and the disappointment take a little longer to fade away.

Others are luckier, their calm spurred on by that unknowable future.

The gamut of emotions is usually the same, commonly ending with a chuckle, a shrug, and a somewhat renewed desire to park in front of the television set the following weekend (or in this case, two weekends from now).

Today, however, San Diego Chargers fans should be warned against their complacency and feverish optimism, and talked down from their high horse, as the ugly truth rears its head once more.

Right now, this is not a Super Bowl caliber team.

This is not a team worthy of being included in that discussion.

Quite frankly, it hasn't been for a while. Multiple seasons, in fact.

Whether it's injuries, untapped potential, a lack of skill by players on the field or coaches and front office men off it—or a combination of factors, the Chargers are middling, awash in mediocrity.

Their record over the past two seasons proves it.

Including their 2-2 start in 2009 and their 1-1 postseason run last season, San Diego is 11-11 over their past 22 games.

Punished by injuries to star players, plagued by off-the-field distractions, and hurt by gutless decision making by the coaching staff, there is a far more troubling factor in that equation not many are talking about.


The Charger roster is increasingly becoming a collection of weak-minded individuals who fail to display their full talent week in and week out.

On defense, million-dollar athletes seemingly forget the most vital part of their job description: tackling.

On offense, receivers walk through routes and drop perfectly placed passes as if there exists a fear of being hit by a defender.

There are of course, exceptions. Several players show up week in, and week out, and demonstrate what they're capable of, often going above and beyond such capacities.

But, you know you're in trouble when those guys are the exception, not the rule.

The NFL season is far from a sprint, despite its shortened schedule.

With 12 games and three months remaining in the season, a myriad of things can happen that could have us looking more favorably upon San Diego in the coming weeks, and say, less favorably on a team like Denver.

At 4-0, their track record in '09 is asterisk-laden with such interesting little footnotes as "Brandon Stokley will never make another catch like that so long as he lives," and "Dallas is probably underachieving more than San Diego at this point."

However, their current status places them at a bit of calm after a tumultuous offseason; and a team that keeps winning games that they shouldn't normally win will start to change that initial perception very quickly.

San Diego cannot afford to fall behind more than the two games it has allowed itself to lag in 2009.

Right now, the glimmer of hope dictates that those two games can be made up with a visit to Invesco Field and a home game against the Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium.

But, why look forward to that when San Diego's personnel has already been so irrevocably hampered?

Jamal Williams, Nick Hardwick, LaDainian Tomlinson, Shawne Merriman ... these are guys you just don't go out and replace as easily as you do a missing button for a favorite shirt.

When you're missing some of your best soldiers and you're essentially hampering onto the battlefield to meet your enemy, you better hope to have an excellent strategy to minimize these weaknesses.

In order to have an excellent strategy, you need a brilliant strategist.

In this regard, Norv Turner is more Napoleon Dynamite than he is Napoleon Bonaparte.

By kicking field goals on third down, handcuffing his star QB in key moments by preferring an ineffective ground game or calling predictable play after predictable play, Turner is seemingly reviving the ghost of "Martyball" as opposed to "Air Coryell."

8-8 was enough last year, it probably won't be this year.

And while this isn't exactly the NFC East, the "class" of the division shouldn't be getting by with a win-loss record like that in the first place.

Twelve games remain, 12 morning afters to reflect, to dwell, to rejoice in happiness or try and dull the pain.

Twelve chances to ask the question:

"Are we really as good as we think we are?"

The answer, right now anyway, is not very encouraging.

And it's been that way for a while.


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