Friday, December 28, 2007

Chargers should remain silent


Philip Rivers has received much criticism this week for running his mouth off, but what about Shawne Merriman?

After the Chargers won a physical game at Tennessee three weeks ago, Merriman said in regard to the playoffs:

"There were a bunch of cheap shots out there, but they can get some cheap shots on the sofa at home while they watch us."

He was referring to the Titans sitting home watching the Chargers in the playoffs. What a mistake!

If Tennessee wins Sunday night at Indianapolis (and the Titans are favored), then Tennessee will play the No. 3 seed in the first round of the AFC playoffs.

The Chargers will be No. 3 unless they lose Sunday at Oakland and Pittsburgh wins at Baltimore. That combination is very unlikely to happen.

Sure, the Chargers will be out to "get" Tennessee for the Titans’ apparent dirty play the first time the two teams met.

But Merriman certainly would have been better served to wait until Tennessee was out of the playoffs before saying the Titans could sit home and watch the Chargers in the postseason.

This week’s prediction:

Chargers 31, Raiders 14

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday Bowl honors deserving athletes

Two standout East County athletes were honored at the 30th annual Pacific Life Holiday Bowl kickoff luncheon Wednesday.

Alex Arroyo of Grossmont High was awarded the Holiday Bowl Memorial Scholarship, founded in memory of R. Hastings Garland Jr., one of the bowl’s founders and its president in 1982.

Lawrence Walker of Christian High earned the 2007 Kiwanis Most Inspirational Football Player Award in San Diego County.

Arroyo has a cumulative GPA of 4.64, is editor of the campus magazine, a member of the Grossmont Interact Club, Varsity Academic League, Musical Activities Club, and Yearbook staff. He is also a varsity letter winner on the tennis and wrestling teams.

Meanwhile, some of the University of Texas players at Wednesday’s luncheon expressed surprise at how rowdy San Diego Chargers’ fans had been Monday night when the Chargers defeated Denver, 23-3, at Qualcomm Stadium.

They even went so far as to compare Charger fans to the loyal supporters who traditionally pack the stadium for Texas home games.

Arizona State will have more fans in attendance than the Longhorns at Thursday night’s Holiday Bowl, but it shouldn’t make any difference.

Prediction:

Texas 27, Arizona State 24

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chargers shouldn't have to play Christmas Eve Night


Shame on the NFL for planning a game Christmas Eve night in San Diego!

Christmas Eve has replaced Christmas Day as the time many families and churches now get together for the holiday.

Now you have people who have paid upwards of $100 per ticket who must choose on Christmas Eve among family, church or the Chargers-Denver Broncos game at Qualcomm Stadium.

A 1971 Christmas Day playoff game between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs went into two overtimes, reputedly causing many family divorces and quarrels in the process.

This year, you have the NFL saying “tough beans” about those having to choose between football and families.

The solution? How about if the Chargers-Broncos game kicked off at 1 p.m. so players, fans, stadium workers, media, etc. could all be home with their families for Christmas Eve night?

Of course, the stupid 5 p.m. kickoff time is all about ESPN the NFL and the “national” television audience.

In reality, how many people on the East Coast are going to watch a game between two teams in the NFL’s worst division with an 8 p.m. eastern kickoff? (They’d be much more likely to watch a game at 4 p.m. eastern time before getting on with their Christmas Eve activities.)

If/when this game has the worst Monday Night Football rating of the season, the NFL and ESPN should look themselves in the face and say “we screwed up.”

How awful to put faithful fans between a rock and a hard place on what has become the most holy night in the religious world!

Prediction:

Chargers 34, Broncos 17

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Poinsettia Bowl looks like a winner


When the Holiday Bowl first came to be in 1978, many people wanted to name it the Poinsettia Bowl.

Now that the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl is entering its third game, it looks like the bowl slot was well worth the wait.

The Poinsettia Bowl match-up Thursday night between Navy (8-4) and Utah (8-4) is one of the better non-New Year’s Day bowl pairings.

Or would you rather see Oklahoma State (6-6) vs. Indiana (7-5) in the Insight Bowl, or perhaps Alabama (6-6) vs. Colorado (6-6) in the Independence Bowl?

Even the BCS games between USC (10-2) vs. Illinois (9-3) in the Rose Bowl and Virginia Tech (11-2) vs. Kansas (11-1) in the Orange Bowl aren’t all that appealing on a nationwide basis.

Illinois has no business being in a major bowl, and Kansas didn’t even make it to the Big 12 championship game.

Utah boasts one of the nation’s better runners in Darrell Mack of Utah, who rushed 50 times for 248 yards in leading Monte Vista High School to a San Diego Section CIF championship four years ago.

Navy may very well suffer because head coach Paul Johnson has already moved on to become the new coach at Georgia Tech.

Look for the Utes to prevail.

Prediction:

Utah 27, Navy 17

Monday, December 17, 2007

Chargers beating up patsies


The Chargers have made a wonderful playoff run by putting together a four-game winning streak against teams that are a combined 2-23 down the stretch.

OK, take away the four losses against the Chargers and those teams are a combined 2-19.

Or didn’t you notice that:

The Chargers started their winning streak against a Baltimore team that has lost eight straight (and allowed Miami to win its first game of the season Sunday.)

The streak continued against Kansas City, which has lost seven straight.

Then there was a win vs. Tennessee, which has lost four of six.

And finally came Sunday’s 51-14 win against a Detroit team with six straight losses.

Clearly, there are three echelons in the AFC. New England is at Level 1, with Indianapolis and Jacksonville at Level 2. The Chargers lead a Level 3, which also includes Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

In their latest win, the Chargers had plenty to feel good about.

LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles became the first players in team history to both rush for 100 yards in a single game.

The defense forced six turnovers (five interceptions), and Antonio Cromartie set a team record with his 10th interception in a season.

Philip Rivers looked efficient at quarterback, even though he was gimpy.

The weak schedule continues with games against Denver (home on Christmas Eve, ugh!) and at Oakland. Those are two more patsies the Chargers should demolish.

Then will come a home playoff game against a team from Level 2 or Level 3. That’s when we will find out if the Chargers are for real, or just another imposter.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Chargers should tame Lions


Jamal Williams and Shawne Merriman are out with injuries.

There goes the heart of the Chargers’ defense.

Lorenzo Neal is out for the regular season, at least.

There goes a heart of the offense.

Philip Rivers is gimpy.

That’s another important offensive component.

That being said, the Chargers still have an excellent chance to clinch the AFC West when they host the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Look at it this way: The Lions are coming off a game they led the entire way until falling at the end to the powerful Dallas Cowboys.

Sound familiar to what Baltimore did against the New England Patriots two weeks ago?

Don’t forget, Baltimore came out completely flat last Sunday when it got beaten up by Indianapolis.

You shouldn’t be surprised if Detroit suffers the same fate this week; even considering how banged up the Chargers appear to be.

Prediction:

Chargers 30, Lions 17

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Chargers: Save antics for home field


Shawne Merriman needs to save his “Lights Out” antics for Qualcomm Stadium.

He incited the crowd last Sunday in Tennessee with his Lights Out dance each of the two times he recorded sacks.

Then, when he injured Titans quarterback Vince Young on what was probably an unintentional hit, he incited the populace even more.

If the Titans did indeed go out to injure Merriman (and they did), it was because they interpreted him as trying to shove it in their collective faces on their home field.

Next time, Shawne, save the theatrics for the home crowd that will cheer you on.

Speaking of antics, Tennessee’s LenDale White learned his lesson after scoring in the fourth quarter to put the Titans two touchdowns ahead. He first mimicked LaDainian Tomlinson, then Merriman.

Gee, I wonder if his taunting spurred the Chargers on to 20 unanswered points on their way to a 23-17 overtime win.

Lesson learned: Minimize the taunting and celebrations … and it will maximize your team’s chances of winning.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chargers may gain AFC's No. 3 seed


Could the Chargers suddenly be looking at a No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs?

Those chances increased Sunday when the Chargers beat Tennessee in overtime, 23-17; then Pittsburgh got clobbered by New England.

The Chargers (8-5) are only one game behind Pittsburgh (9-4) for the third seed.

Should the Chargers win out (and they should against Detroit, Denver and Oakland) … then Pittsburgh only needs to lose only one more AFC game for the Chargers to become No. 3.

That Pittsburgh loss could happen as early as this Sunday, when the Steelers play host to an outstanding Jacksonville team.

Since the Chargers and Pittsburgh don’t play each other this season, the next tiebreaker is their record within the AFC. Both are 7-3 now, but another Pittsburgh loss within the conference (such as to Jacksonville) would place the Steelers behind San Diego in the tiebreaker.

The Chargers undoubtedly scored their biggest win of the season at Tennessee. Not only did they come back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter for the first time ever on the road; they also beat a team that still has a (very) slight chance of making the playoffs.

What’s the difference between being seeded third and fourth in the playoffs? No. 3 likely opens with Cleveland, while No. 4 probably plays Jacksonville.

At this point, Cleveland appears to be the better alternative.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Are Chargers playoff worthy?

Whether they deserve it or not, the Chargers are going to make the playoffs.

They can greatly thank the Denver Broncos, who suddenly aren’t good enough to beat even the Bad News (Chicago) Bears … or Oakland Raiders, for that matter.

If you want a true measure of how well the Chargers might fare in the playoffs, just wait till Sunday.

They are being awaited by a Tennessee Titans team that could make or break their wild-card playoff hopes with this weekend’s result.

The Titans have a big name at quarterback in Vince Young, but they are not a big play team.

They are very capable, however, of grinding it out on you with one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.

Here’s a fact to consider about the Titans: They are 7-2 when defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth is healthy; 0-3 when he’s not.

Btw, Haynesworth is healthy this week.

The Chargers have appeared healthy their last two games with wins over Baltimore and Kansas City. But that’s like bragging about beating the Little Sisters of the Poor … along with their littler sisters.

This weekend, the true test comes in Tennessee.

Time to find out what LaDainian Tomlinson, Shawne Merriman, Antonio Gates and the rest of their teammates are all about.

Prediction:

Titans 23, Chargers 20

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Qualcomm Stadium: Good for great college bowl games

Qualcomm Stadium isn’t good enough for the Chargers.

What is it good for?

How about two of the best non-BCS football games this college postseason?

The Pacific Life Holiday Bowl has a great match-up Dec. 27 with No. 12 Arizona State (10-2) vs. No. 17 Texas (9-3).

ASU would have been in a BCS game had Hawaii not made a late comeback to beat Washington last Saturday.

Texas was the national champion two years ago and is still considered among the top names in college football.

As for the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, the Navy (8-4) vs. Utah (8-4) contest Dec. 20 is as good as it gets before Christmas.

Navy is always a great draw in a military town like San Diego, and it has a very formidable team.

Utah, three years removed from a BCS game, scored a 44-6 victory this season over a UCLA team which was in the Rose Bowl hunt until last weekend.

No matter what you say about Qualcomm Stadium, it’s still adequate enough for two of the top bowl games in America.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Chargers looking like Chargers?


The Chargers are starting to look like their old selves again.

Consider that in Sunday’s 24-10 win at Kansas City:

LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns.

The defense recorded eight sacks; three by Shawne Merriman.

Philip Rivers and the offense recorded only one turnover.

That’s the good news. Now comes the big question:

Can the Chargers beat the better teams in the NFL?

Their last two wins have been against Baltimore and Kansas City, two teams with only four wins apiece.

Come this Sunday, they travel to play a Tennessee team that is fighting for its playoff life.

If the Chargers can win this week, perhaps they’re for real. If not, they are still nothing more than a pretender in the NFL.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Aztecs can't draw flies (or fans)

A local radio station recently went out to a restaurant/bar in Little Italy with 200 tickets to give away to a San Diego State football game.

It came back with 200 tickets.

Another radio station has a program where it gives listeners “points” in an Internet contest for such things as typing in the Word of the Day.

A $25 gift certificate to Jack in the Box or McDonald’s normally goes for 40,000-50,000 points. Four SDSU football tickets can usually be had for less than 1,000 points.

Does anybody care about SDSU football?

Apparently not, according to the radio station promotions and the number of empty seats at an Aztec home football game.

Athletic director Jeff Schemmel would have you believe that his department – and especially the football program – is able to carry its own financial weight.

If that’s so, then why does President Stephen Weber keep borrowing from a “one-time fund” to give millions to the athletic department?

The Aztecs conclude their season Saturday at home against No. 19 Brigham Young. Unless there are thousands of Mormons in the stands supporting BYU, expect another virtually empty stadium.

This week’s predictions:

BYU 38, Aztecs 20

Chargers 20, Kansas City 17

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Union-Tribune can't hide its 'business deal'

What’s the big secret behind the “business deal” between the San Diego Union-Tribune and radio station XTRA Sports 1360 AM?

The Union-Tribune has its sportswriters on a daily (Monday-Friday) show from 10 am-noon, but here’s what you won’t read about in the supposedly tell-all Union-Tribune:

The newspaper is paying $1,000 an hour to have its sportswriters on The Sports Page with Josh Rosenberg. As part of the deal, the Union-Tribune is selling ads for the show.

Also, the sportswriters on the show do not receive any compensation for their time. That’s sure to build morale in the already-deteriorating newspaper business.

The next time you hear (or see) the Union-Tribune collectively beating its chest for thinking it blows the whistle on others, just ask why the paper doesn’t blow the whistle on itself.

This “business deal” is an example of the U-T thinking it is above the rules it sets for others.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Chargers will clinch AFC West on Christmas Eve

As poorly as they have played much of this season, the Chargers will clinch the AFC West by beating Denver on Christmas Eve.

Neither team has an overly difficult schedule between now and then … but both are capable of losing to anybody.

The Chargers (6-5) travel to Kansas City and Tennessee the next two weeks before hosting Detroit and Denver back-to-back.

The Broncos (5-6) travel to Oakland, host Kansas City, then are at Houston prior to meeting the Chargers.

When the Chargers and Broncos meet on Christmas Eve (Monday night) in San Diego, they will likely be tied or the Chargers will have a one-game lead.

Since the Chargers already beat Denver earlier this year, they would own the tiebreaker over the Broncos with a second win.

In Sunday’s 32-14 win over a hapless Baltimore Ravens’ team, at least the Chargers showed a little bit of their 2006 form.

Philip Rivers didn’t turn the ball over, Antonio Gates caught two TD passes and LaDainian Tomlinson surpassed 10,000 career rushing yards.

The defense also showed its old tendency with four sacks.

Although this Sunday’s game at Kansas City (4-7) may seem like a lock, two things must be taken into consideration.

The Chargers are just 1-4 on the road, and they suffered their only regular-season home loss in two years back in September against the Chiefs.

With this team, nothing can be taken for granted.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Chargers doing OK in spite of selves

At one time, the next four weeks looked very difficult on the Chargers’ schedule:

Baltimore; at Kansas City; at Tennessee; Detroit.

All of a sudden, the schedule does not look quite as imposing.

Baltimore comes here Sunday on a four-game losing streak. Kansas City is out of running backs, among other things.

Tennessee has lost two straight. Detroit is a 6-5 team in a tailspin.

Of course, the biggest thing the Chargers have going against themselves is themselves.

They are the NFL’s worst offense over the last four games. They have the second worst defense in that time span.

Even so, they are 2-2 in their four games.

So it looks like – even in spite of Norv Turner, A.J. Smith and Ted Cottrell – the Chargers may be well on their way to the playoffs.

Weekend Predictions:
Chargers 23, Ravens 14

Texas Christian University 37, San Diego State 20

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Local college basketball worth watching

College basketball isn’t going to be so bad in San Diego this season.

San Diego State has its most balanced team in years. The University of San Diego is only going to get better under the great coaching of first-year mentor Bill Grier, a former assistant at West Coast Conference powerhouse Gonzaga.

Both San Diego teams are young, which is another remedy for future improvement. The Aztecs have only one senior; USD has none.

Lorrenzo Wade leads an SDSU team that is 5-0 and is 8-9 players deep in able contributors.

The Toreros (2-2) do not have any seniors. Junior center Gyno Pomare has two straight double-double games against Nevada Las Vegas and SDSU.

USD hosts the WCC postseason tournament each of the next two seasons. Don’t be surprised if the Toreros win that tournament by next year.

Coach Steve Fisher has brought the Aztecs from horrible to mediocre during his tenure on Montezuma Mesa. His team is likely looking at another NIT-type season, which is about as high as Fisher appears capable of taking this team.

But in the long run, at least local college basketball fans shouldn’t be too disappointed this season.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Chargers start pointing fingers

So now the Chargers are starting to point fingers.

Shawne Merriman and LaDainian Tomlinson are saying some guys on the team are interested in collecting paychecks; not winning.

Such was the locker room tone after Sunday’s 24-17 loss at Jacksonville.

Sure, they probably have a point with the finger-pointing.

But if they want to get directly to the point, blame team management.

A.J. Smith is the general manager whose sour personality caused the team to lose coach Marty Schottenheimer, who’s a better head coach on his worst day than Norv Turner is on his best day.

Dean Spanos is the guy who twice in 10 years couldn’t solve a coach-general manager feud. Thanks to his ultimate decision to fire Schottenheimer, the Chargers’ have taken huge steps backwards.

The sad part is that if Denver loses at home Monday night to Tennessee, the Chargers will be alone in first place in the AFC West.

This dysfunctional team deserves much worse.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Will Jaguars take bite out of Chargers?

OK, so this much we know about the Chargers:

Norv Turner is a horrible head coach.

Philip Rivers can’t pass – or hold onto the football – any more.

LaDainian Tomlinson has forgotten how to run.

But there are the positives:

Antonio Cromartie is a big-time playmaker.

Darren Sproles has suddenly remembered how to run back kicks.

The Chargers were good enough to beat the Indianapolis Colts’ junior varsity when they were missing seven injured starters.

Now come the Jacksonville Jaguars.

They may be a non-descript team, but all they do is win.

With a 6-3 record, the Jaguars should be even more potent this week when quarterback David Garrard returns from three weeks on the injury list with a high-ankle sprain.

Prediction:

Jaguars 23, Chargers 20

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Poinsettia Bowl: Aztecs out, Utah in?

Would you like to see San Diego State play in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl this year?

Keep dreaming.

First of all, the Aztecs (4-5) would have to win two of their final three games to become bowl eligible.

Where do you find two wins with games at Air Force (Nov. 17) and at home vs. Texas Christian University (Nov. 24) and Brigham Young (Dec. 1)?

Even if the Aztecs finish 6-6, the Poinsettia Bowl would have to choose a Mountain West Conference team with seven wins over SDSU.

The best that can be said for the Aztecs at this point is they’re on a two-game winning streak and have surpassed last year’s victory total of three.

“We’re excited to play,” SDSU coach Chuck Long said. “We have an upbeat practice tempo going. Guys are really starting to gel and really enjoy being around each other. We've had a great time with this team all year.”

But after nine years of the Mountain West Conference, they are still the conference’s only team never to appear in a bowl game during that time.

As for the Poinsettia Bowl, look for a match-up between Navy (6-4) and Utah (7-3). Navy has already accepted a bid to the game.

BYU (7-2) will win the Mountain West and go to the Las Vegas Bowl. That leaves Utah and New Mexico (7-3) as the leading contenders for the Poinsettia Bowl, but Utah has a much better “name” than the Lobos.

The Aztecs will be on the outside looking in, but what’s new?

This week’s prediction:

Air Force 27, SDSU 23

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chargers' win is a kick

Adam Vinatieri won two Super Bowls for New England with last-second field goals.

He made a long field goal in a driving snow storm to beat Oakland in a memorable playoff game.

But he couldn’t even make a 29-yard attempt with the game on the line Sunday night as the Chargers scored an improbable 23-21 win over Vinatieri and the Indianapolis Colts.

"I should make that kick every time," Vinatieri said. "There are no good excuses. I just missed it."

There were no good excuses for the way the Chargers’ offense played, either. Quarterback Philip Rivers had arguably his worst game as a pro and the offense could muster only 50 yards in the second half after San Diego raced to a 23-0 lead by midway in the second quarter.

But who would have thought that Peyton Manning would throw a career-high six interceptions, and Vinatieri would miss a 42-yard field goal attempt as the first half expired to match his second half futility?

This game belonged to San Diego’s special teams and two special players.

Darren Sproles returned two kicks – a punt and kickoff – for touchdowns.

Antonio Cromartie, the man many thought should be returning kicks instead of Sproles, intercepted three passes in his first career start.

The Chargers have a lot to feel good about. They just beat the defending Super Bowl champs, and they lead the weak AFC West by one game over Denver and Kansas City.

Even so, the win left many with an empty feeling. They know that unless the offense starts to really pick it up, the Chargers once again won’t be playing deep into the playoffs.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Chargers facing another lost weekend?

You think the Chargers’ loss was bad enough last week at Minnesota?

Just wait until the Indianapolis Colts come to town for Sunday night’s match-up on NBC-TV.

Peyton Manning has spent a lot of time on his back in his last two games against the Chargers, but he’ll probably be spending much more time in the end zone this week.

As if San Diego’s defense wasn’t horrible enough last Sunday, it will spend this week’s entire game without injured defensive end Luis Castillo and (most likely) cornerback Quentin Jammer.

Ouch.

Can you smell 400-plus yards for Manning?

Offensively, the Chargers couldn’t run or pass against Minnesota (does that mean they didn’t do anything right?)

Indianapolis? It has a better defense than the Vikings.

Yes, these are the same Chargers who two years ago went into Indianapolis and spoiled the Colts’ bid for a perfect season when they were 13-0.

But there was a major difference: Motivator Marty Schottenheimer coached them in 2005; motivation-less Norv Turner is the current coach.

If San Diego State wins this weekend at Nevada Las Vegas, the Aztecs will be 4-5 on the season. The Chargers will have the same record if (when?) they lose to the Colts.

Who would’ve thought?

Predictions:

Colts 31, Chargers 20

SDSU 24, UNLV 21

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

USC-Texas rematch in Holiday Bowl?

Two years ago, USC and Texas played for the college football national championship.

How about a rematch this year in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl?

It won’t be the Trojans of Matt Leinart/Reggie Bush vs. the Longhorns of Vince Young.

But it would still offer coaches Pete Carroll of USC and Mack Brown of Texas, leading two of the most heralded teams annually in college football.

Let’s face it: The Holiday Bowl is only going to get USC on a down year for the Trojans. This may be the year.

Texas was here in 2001 and 2003 for the Holiday Bowl, but the Longhorns would probably welcome a rematch of their title win over USC two years ago. (USC has never played in the game.)

The Dec. 27 Holiday Bowl matches the Pac-10 runner-up against a third selection from the Big 12.

The game could certainly match a pair of current Top 10 teams if Arizona State were to face Missouri. But let’s face it: Those teams don’t have the national appeal of USC and Texas.

Kansas and Oklahoma are other possibilities from the Big 12 if they slip late in the season. Ditto for Oregon in the Pac-10.

But all things considered, the Holiday Bowl can’t do better than a match-up of USC vs. Texas.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Charger apologists will have tough time apologizing


Boy, isn’t A.J. Smith of the Chargers the best general manager in the NFL?

Reminds you of John Wayne, doesn’t he?

Boy, Norv Turner sure can coach; can’t he?

You know, he’s going to be the next Bill Belichick and win three Super Bowls in four years with the Chargers.

Pardon me for daydreaming and being among the apologists for the Chargers.

We’ll leave that to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Joe Tutino of 1090 AM Radio and Tom Shanahan of voiceofsandiego.org. (Thank goodness for Coach John Kentera, who went on 1090 this past week and said he wasn’t impressed with the Chargers because they had not beaten anybody this year.)

To put it more bluntly, they still haven’t. What an embarrassment Sunday’s 35-17 loss was to the Minnesota Vikings.

Did you see that awesome Chargers’ rush defense? All they did was allow rookie Adrian Peterson to rush for an NFL record 296 yards (including 253 in the second half.)

He only out-rushed LaDainian Tomlinson by 256 yards, meaning that perhaps he is about ready to surpass LT as the NFL’s most-feared runner.

Sure, Antonio Cromartie did a wonderful job for the Chargers by returning a missed field goal an NFL-record 109 yards for a touchdown before halftime. But that was supposed to give the Chargers momentum; not be their final highlight of the game.

At mid-season, the Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals may be the biggest underachievers in the NFL. Luckily for the Chargers, they are in a horrible division and are tied for first with Kansas City at 4-4.

Come next Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts come to town for a night game.

Don’t be surprised if Charger fans are again chanting "Mar-ty" for former coach Marty Schottenheimer before that game is done.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Chargers can't afford to look ahead

Sometimes, a team gets a welcomed break in its schedule.

For the Chargers, it has been consecutive games against Oakland, Houston and this Sunday at Minnesota.

Do you think the Vikings have a chance of winning? Then name five other players on the team besides running back Adrian Peterson.

Talk about a non-descript team.

The Chargers better get out of Minnesota with a victory. Their next six games are against teams over .500 in Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Kansas City, Tennessee and Detroit.

This week would be a great time for LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates to pile up the numbers offensively. It’s also a chance for Shawne Merriman to finally get some sacks and the secondary to further make an impact.

With what’s ahead, the Chargers better not stumble this week.

Prediction:

Chargers 23, Vikings 10

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Aztecs trying to make friends

San Diego State is to be lauded for donating 4,000 tickets to firefighters, police, American Red Cross, military and others who protected San Diego County during last week’s fires.

The Aztecs are also selling field level tickets for $5 to this Saturday night’s home game against Wyoming.

All told, hopefully this means the Aztecs will have more than 20,000 people actually in the stands for the game.

As much as SDSU is reaching out to the community in some ways, it still isn’t winning football games. And that’s why people are not coming, no matter what the discount.

Chuck Long is just 5-14 in his first 1 ½ seasons on Montezuma Mesa. Since he’s in the second year of a five-year contract, SDSU isn’t going to buy him out anytime soon.

This team just isn’t making an impact in the community. The Aztecs haven’t had a winning season since 1998 … and it doesn’t appear one is on the horizon.

They will make some friends this weekend with the free and discounted tickets.

But to make friends in the long run, they will need to win more than once a month.

Prediction:

Wyoming 27, SDSU 17

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dodgers gaining on Padres?


The Padres better not look back, because someone could be gaining on them.

And that someone is none other than the Dodgers.

When Joe Torre becomes manager of the Dodgers, it could create a domino effect. Don’t be surprised if former Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez follows, which is just exactly what the Dodgers need.

If the Dodgers had a black hole last year (besides pitching injuries), it was third base. And A-Rod is only the best in the business at that position, which could make the Dodgers a contender in 2008.

Already, the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks have clearly surpassed the Padres. If the Dodgers sign A-Rod, the Padres could be staring fourth-place in the face next season.

The Padres already need a second baseman, (most likely) a center fielder if/when Mike Cameron leaves in free agency, and a right fielder. Brian Giles must move to left field where he has less ground to cover.

The post-World Series offseason has barely begun, yet the Padres already have some catching up to do.

The NL West is just becoming too strong for the Padres not to make major improvements this winter.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fire donations matched by 50 percent

Before we get to the Chargers, let’s start with the most important information.

If you are still looking to donate to the fire relief effort in San Diego County, here’s a suggestion where to give:

The North County Times and San Diego’s CW television station are matching 50 percent on all donations up to the first $500,000 received for fire relief efforts.

For information, please visit http://www.nctimes.com/ or http://www.sandiegocw.com/.

As for the Chargers, they certainly did what they needed to in Sunday’s 35-10 win over over-matched Houston.

It started with firefighters and first responders from last week’s fires proudly leading the team onto the field. Then, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger showed that he may not flip a coin properly … but he must be praised for his quick response to the fires.

The Chargers had the game wrapped up for all intents and purposes when Antonio Cromartie recovered a bad punt snap in the end zone to make the score 14-0 just 11:22 into the game.

The offense was efficient, if not overly effective. Philip Rivers threw only 11 passes and LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 90 yards and didn’t even score a touchdown.

It all came down to special teams and the defense forcing Houston to commit five turnovers.

The Chargers should have little trouble when they travel to Minnesota this week. Then the schedule gets much tougher with Indianapolis here on a Sunday night, at Jacksonville, Baltimore here, then at Kansas City and at Tennessee.

That five-game stretch should define the team’s season.

Friday, October 26, 2007

For 3 hours, Chargers will provide welcome diversion

In the big picture, it doesn’t really matter if the Chargers beat the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon.

What really matters is that the game will be played as scheduled at 1:05 p.m. at Qualcomm Stadium.

This will come just 49 hours after the stadium was officially closed as an evacuee center for the devastating fires this week in San Diego County.

At the very least, the game will serve as a three-hour diversion for all of the devastation that has occurred in the past week. It will help bond San Diegans as they spend their time Sunday afternoon pulling for the Chargers.

But even if the Chargers win the Super Bowl this season (which they won’t), they will not be able to bring the town together as the fires have.

Our hearts go out to the more than 500,000 people who were scared by being evacuated, and the more than 1,300 families who have been heartbroken by the loss of their home this week.

As much as politicians may be patting themselves on the back, the real heroes this week are the firefighters who put their lives on the line to protect the lives and homes of others. The next time an athlete holds out for $10 million, the shame will be that these firefighters are not the ones demanding those salaries. They deserve it!

This Sunday, let’s hope the Chargers honor those (as I’m sure they will) who put the interests of others in front of their own interests this week.

As for the Chargers, this will be a tough game. No matter what they say, football players are all about routine ... and this tragic situation in San Diego County has been more than just the typical "distraction" that football players try to avoid.

Don’t be surprised if the Chargers are out of rhythm this week ... but don’t be surprised if Qualcomm Stadium is as loud as it has ever been come Sunday.

Our heartfelt prayers go out to those who have been so affected by the fires.

May God bless you all!

Prediction:
Chargers 26, Texans 24

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fire losses are devastating; not sports losses

When the Chargers lost to New England in last year’s NFL playoffs, some people termed it "devastating."

When Kansas City upset the Chargers earlier this season, some called it "devastating."

When San Diego State dominated New Mexico last Saturday but lost in the final few seconds, that was also called "devastating" by some.

Let’s get one thing straight: Losing a sporting event is not devastating. Losing your home is.

As the devastating fires continue throughout San Diego County, more than 500,000 people have been displaced from their homes. By the time it is all said and done, thousands will sadly have lost their homes.

That’s devastating.

Sports are only a diversion. The next time a San Diego team loses a key game (which happens far too often), think of it as being "too bad."

The devastation from losing homes and personal possessions far outweighs anything that ever happens in the sporting arena.

Be safe; and continue to hope and pray that the fire situation here gets better, before it gets worse.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Aztecs hope for happy homecoming

Homecoming Week.

From USC to Texas to Nebraska to Florida State and parts in between, it’s a grand celebration.

At San Diego State … well, it’s Homecoming Week.

Yes, there have been karaoke and dance contests on campus, followed by a pep rally on Friday.

But to say the interest is mild in homecoming at SDSU would be more than a bit of an overstatement.

Quite frankly, hardly anybody cares; including alumni. That’s what happens when your football team hasn’t had a winning season since 1998.

The Aztecs play their homecoming game Saturday against New Mexico.

All odds, including the 8-point betting spread, are against them.

New Mexico has beaten the Aztecs six straight times overall, and five in a row at Qualcomm Stadium.

SDSU has little to boast about offensively other than quarterback Kevin O’Connell, who has been getting beaten up all season … including 12 sacks in the last two weeks.

There’s no way a team from Albuquerque, N.M. should dominate a team from San Diego, especially when in comes to recruiting.

While Albuquerque may not be the city San Diego is, SDSU is nothing compared to the Lobos.

Prediction:

New Mexico 28, SDSU 13

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Is Chambers another McCardell?

This appears to be a repeat of the 2004 NFL trading deadline.

Back then, the Chargers acquired wide receiver Keenan McCardell from Tampa Bay when they were 3-3.

They would win nine of their next 10 games to finish 12-4 and reach the playoffs for the first time since 1995.

This time, the last-minute trade acquisition is wide receiver Chris Chambers from Miami at a time when the Chargers are 3-3.

Will they win nine of their next 10 again to finish 12-4?

Probably not, but it won’t take nearly that good of a record to win the weak AFC West.

Chambers brings the Chargers two sides. He’s known for making brilliant, game-winning type catches; but he’s also known for dropping more than a few passes.

He is kind of a more experienced version of Vincent Jackson, the Chargers’ current go-to wide receiver (if they have such a thing.)

Chambers, acquired from Miami for a second-round draft choice, earned a trip to the Pro Bowl following a 2005 season in which he hauled in 82 passes for 1,118 yards and 11 touchdowns. In six games with the Dolphins this season, he’s caught 31 passes for 415 yards. Chambers is a seven-year veteran who has a history with Chargers coach Norv Turner. In 2002 and 2003, Chambers’ second and third seasons in the NFL, Turner served as Miami’s offensive coordinator.

“Chris is an explosive, talented player and I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to work with him again,” Turner said. “He’s a very consistent player and he has big-play ability. We think he can add to what we’re doing on offense. The bonus for us is that he’s familiar with the system. It should be a quick and easy adjustment for him. We expect him to come in and be productive right away.”

With Eric Parker on injured reserve, Chambers better contribute right away if the Chargers are to build on two straight wins.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Chargers headed in right direction?

The Oakland Raiders seemed headed back in their not-so-glorious direction Sunday afternoon.

In the process, maybe the Chargers are headed back in the direction they have become accustomed to the past few years.

With the Chargers’ 28-14 win over Oakland, they not only moved into a first-place tie with Kansas City at 3-3; they also seemed to return to Charger football.

LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 198 yards and four touchdowns.
The defense held Oakland to 53 rushing yards and forced three turnovers.
Cornerbacks Drayton Florence and Antonio Cromartie recorded their first interceptions of the season (and Cromartie’s first of his career.)
The defense recorded a season-high six sacks.
Cory Withrow did a great job filling in at center for the injured Nick Hardwick.


These things aside, there are still question marks with the Chargers. Sure, they should win a weak AFC West, but how far can they go in the playoffs?

Undefeated teams in New England and Indianapolis both reloaded in the offseason. The Chargers stood pat, even though they hadn’t caught up with the Patriots or Colts at that time.

In the long run, the Chargers will likely pay for not upgrading their roster in the offseason. For now, they can enjoy the bye week before hosting Houston on Oct. 28.

They’ve come a long way in the last two weeks, but they still have a marathon to go in returning to one of the NFL’s elite teams.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Chargers: It's Raider Week!

Marty Schottenheimer used to put it all into perspective with three words:

“It’s Raider Week.”

And nobody knew how to beat the Raiders like Schottenheimer, the former San Diego coach who posted a 27-7 career mark against them.

Norv Turner?

Currently the Chargers’ coach, he was on the Oakland Raiders’ side of this long-standing rivalry in 2004-05.

Yes, the Chargers have beaten the Raiders seven straight times. Yes, they have far surpassed their rivals to the north in NFL prominence.

But be careful this week.

The Raiders, under first-year coach Lane Kiffin, actually look like they know how to win. Heck, they even lead the AFC West at 2-2.

The Chargers? With a win this week, they’re 3-3 and no worse than tied for first.

If you think it’s going to be easy, think again. The Chargers were lucky to escape with their lives in last year’s 21-14 win in San Diego over Oakland.

By far, it was the most fortunate of the victories during the Chargers’ 10-game winning streak.

This week, expect the Chargers to run LaDainian Tomlinson often and keep the Raiders honest with short, crisp passes.

Oakland’s offense? Better than last year, but Daunte Culpepper is no spring chicken at quarterback.

Prediction:

Chargers 27, Raiders 17

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Aztecs missed out on Tedford, Harbaugh


Jeff Tedford coaches the California Bears, ranked No. 2 in the nation by the Associated Press.

Jim Harbaugh is the first-year coach at Stanford, which pulled off arguably the Upset of the Year last weekend by beating then No. 2 USC, 24-23.

So, what do these two coaches have in common?

Among other things, both could (and should) have been named the head coach at San Diego State when their time had come.

Tedford’s time was before the 2002 season. SDSU tried to hurry the former Oregon assistant coach into a decision, causing him to withdraw from the process.

Harbaugh’s time was prior to the 2006 season.

After leading the University of San Diego to the first of two national titles for schools of its size, Harbaugh politicked for the SDSU job. The Aztecs didn’t even give him a sniff.

What do you think the Aztecs would be like now if Tedford or Harbaugh was the head coach?

It’s a question to ponder, because it will never become reality.

Instead, Chuck Long is 5-12 overall in his second season. He’ll take a 2-3 overall record (1-0 in the Mountain West Conference) into Saturday’s game at Utah.

Tedford? Harbaugh? Long?

You make the call as to which coach would have fit best at SDSU.

Prediction:

Utah 33, SDSU 21

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Turner's the burner for Chargers

The Chargers have decided to keep running back Michael Turner for the entire season, even though he becomes a free agent afterwards.

Wise choice.

If LaDainian Tomlinson became injured and Turner had been traded, the Chargers would be down to nothing at running back.

Turner, without a doubt, has the reputation as the best back-up running back in the NFL.

Last Sunday alone, he rushed for 147 yards (14.7 yards per carry) and one touchdown in the 41-3 romp over Denver.

In fact, it was one of a few times over the past three seasons that Turner has finished with more yards than Tomlinson.

Most memorable was the 2005 game at Indianapolis when Turner rushed for a game-high 113 yards (including an 83-yard touchdown) as the Chargers handed the Colts their first loss of this season.

This is not to say that Turner is anywhere close to being the running back that LT is.

Turner gains a majority of his yards during short spurts on the field when he is fresh and everyone else is tired.

It will be interesting to see how he does as a starting running back elsewhere next year, when he’s in on most plays – as opposed to one play here and there.

For now, the Chargers can only be happy to have him as a back-up running back and kick returner, as well as playing on other special teams.

Next season, they’ll have to find a new Turner after he leaves during free agency.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Chargers look Super for one Sunday

Philip Rivers served as a perfect example of why the Chargers were able to demolish the Denver Broncos, 41-3, Sunday afternoon.

In a postgame interview with CBS-TV, Rivers simply pointed to his clean white jersey as to why the Chargers won so easily.

Even beforehand, commentators on the NFL Today on CBS had pointed to the Chargers’ offensive line for the team’s poor start this season.

All those questions, at least for a week, have been answered.

The inability to get the ball to LaDainian Tomlinson also has been answered … at least for a week.

Antonio Gates and Tomlinson, the team’s go-to players, accounted for all but five of the Chargers’ first 107 yards from scrimmage.

Then there was the defense. Surprise, surprise; it actually learned how to tackle.

Then there was the special teams’ play, which accounted for a touchdown on a fumble return by Brandon Siler.

Then there were the Broncos, who have lost six of eight at home (not exactly the powerhouse they once were.)

This week, Raider Nation comes to San Diego. Beat Oakland and the Chargers will be no worse than tied for first place.

That tells you how weak, and winnable, the AFC West is for anybody.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Should Dean Spanos fire himself for nepotism?

When team president Dean Spanos wonders what’s wrong with the Chargers, all he has to do is look in the mirror.

Spanos should have learned his lesson the first time around after the 1996 season when head coach Bobby Ross and general manager Bobby Beathard were feuding.

As we know, Spanos kept Beathard, fired Ross and the Chargers suffered the next five seasons because of it until Marty Schottenheimer became head coach in 2002 and turned the team around.

Let’s fast forward to the past offseason when Spanos again kept the general manager and fired the head coach when they were feuding.

In sticking with general manager A.J. Smith over Schottenheimer, Spanos has again sent the Chargers in major reverse.

Spanos reportedly believed the last straw was when Schottenheimer wanted to hire his brother, Kurt, to be the Chargers defensive coordinator.

How dare Schottenheimer practice nepotism!

Speaking of, did you know that Spanos (who will inherit the team from his father) now has two sons working in the team’s front office?

So much for the theory that the team does not believe in nepotism!

If Schottenheimer is gone for perceived nepotism, maybe Spanos should follow his own lead and fire himself.

This week’s prediction:

Denver 28, San Diego 20

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Has SDSU finally met its match?


Colorado State has the longest football losing streak in the nation at 11 games.

The Rams are favored to win by 13 ½ points in their Mountain West Conference opener Saturday.

Must be a mistake, right?

Wrong.

Colorado State is hosting San Diego State, which also is opening its conference season.

With the Rams being on an 11-game losing streak and favored by so many points, it can only tell you one thing: The opposition must be horrible.

And it is.

Take away a win against Sacramento State of Division I-AA (or whatever the NCAA calls it these days), and the Aztecs would be winless this season.

Sure, two of their three losses were to teams currently in the Top 25 (Arizona State and Cincinnati.) The other was to Washington State of the Pac-10. All three games were blowouts.

At least Colorado State has been competitive against arguably a tougher schedule than SDSU has faced.

The Rams only lost by a field goal in overtime to Colorado, which beat then No. 3-ranked Oklahoma last weekend. They also came within six points of a California team now ranked third in the nation.

Any wonder why the Rams are favored so heavily?

At Coach Sonny Lubick’s weekly press conference, he was asked about his Colorado State team having an easier schedule ahead.

“You look to it as a real chance,” he said. “However, if we get foolish, and start thinking ahead too much, then you've got a major problem.”

With the nation’s longest losing streak, don’t expect the Rams to look ahead this week.

Prediction: Colorado State 27, SDSU 17

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

San Diego sports: Abolish them all?


Think back to the rosy situation for San Diego sports last Friday night.

All the Padres had to do was beat the downtrodden Milwaukee Brewers one time to make the playoffs.

The Chargers were favored by more points than any NFL team Sunday, so they would certainly whip the Kansas City Chiefs.

OK, so now we’ve witnessed among the 72 worst hours in San Diego sports history.

The Padres couldn’t beat the Brewers … or hold a two-run lead with Trevor Hoffman on the mound against the Colorado Rockies.

The Chargers lost to the Chiefs … further proving it was Marty Schottenheimer’s coaching – not A.J. Smith’s players – who were responsible for last year’s 14-2 season.

With the Padres, you wouldn’t normally want anyone other than Jake Peavy or Hoffman on the mound. But they surrendered all of Colorado’s runs in Monday night’s season-ending, 9-8 loss in 13 innings.

Sadly, both now have storylines of being great pitchers the first 162 days of the season; but not much to brag about thereafter.

As for the Chargers, they continue to prove why Norv Turner has the reputation of a great offensive coordinator who couldn’t beat a high school JV team as a head coach.

And let’s not forget San Diego State. The Aztecs lost to No. 24 Cincinnati, 52-23, and looked as if they couldn’t tackle a mediocre Pop Warner running back.

Most of us are aware by now of a resolution in the SDSU Senate to abolish Aztec football.

For the sake of long-suffering San Diego fans, maybe they should abolish all sports in this town.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

What's wrong with the Chargers?


So, who is to blame for the Chargers getting off to a stunningly-poor 1-3 start?

It can’t be general manager A.J. Smith. (How can you blame him for the fact his lack of people skills/bullheaded personality led to Marty Schottenheimer and Donnie Edwards no longer being with the Chargers?)

It can’t be head coach Norv Turner. (How can you blame him for the fact he has never won anywhere as a head coach and is 10-26 in his last 36 games in such a role?)

Now that we take the tongue out of our cheeks, let’s get serious for a minute.

Sadly, the man who will probably take the fall if the Chargers continue on their path to destruction in 2007 is defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell.

The Chargers will have to blame somebody, and they’re sure not going to blame the fair-haired boys Smith and Turner.

After all, Smith is the best general manager in the NFL and the second-coming of John Wayne, at least according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. And Turner was his choice.

At least the fans know what’s up. Their chants of "Mar-ty, Mar-ty, Mar-ty" late in Sunday’s 30-16 loss to Kansas City told you they wish Schottenheimer was still walking the sideline in San Diego.

Also, what’s up with Philip Rivers?

He looks worse now than he did as a rookie quarterback three years ago when he appeared nervous and uncertain.

And what’s up with the defensive coverage on the third-and-19 play that turned into a game-winning 51-yard touchdown reception for Dwayne Bowe?

Why were the Chargers in tight man-to-man coverage on a third-and-19. And where was the safety in the middle of the field to help tackle Bowe after a quick slant?

Then there’s the Donnie Edwards factor. The Union-Tribune has made us well aware that Edwards can’t make a tackle within six yards of scrimmage. But where were the tacklers within 51 yards of scrimmage on KC’s winning touchdown?

One thing can be said of Edwards: Unlike the Chargers, at least he has come off the field a winner in his last nine regular season games at Qualcomm Stadium.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Chargers control their destiny


As poorly as the Chargers have played thus far, they still may be sitting pretty in the AFC West.

The next three weeks will tell a lot as they play the first of two rounds against division foes with games vs. Kansas City, at Denver and vs. Oakland.

Win all three and the Chargers will be in control in the AFC West, especially considering the division champion has gone 5-1 within the division each of the past three years.

Lose all three and the Chargers may be waving bye-bye to 2007.

Anything in between still leaves them up in the air when they take a bye in Week 7.

The rest of the division is not exactly on fire:

Denver has won two games by a total of four points.

Oakland’s only victory was by two points.

Kansas City scored its lone win by three points.

The AFC West was once a dominant division. Now it could better be known as the AFC Worst.

Come Sunday, the Chargers will start determining their fate when they host Kansas City.

Prediction:

Chargers 20, Chiefs 9

Thursday, September 27, 2007

SDSU needs on-campus football facility


Let’s face it: The more the Chargers lose, the less chance they have of getting a new stadium because their bandwagon will fall apart if they don’t start winning.

Where does that leave San Diego State’s football program?

Without a place to play, if the Chargers don’t get a new stadium the Aztecs can share with them.

The solution for SDSU is to build an on-campus stadium, such as the Aztecs formerly had at Aztec Bowl.

San Diegans used to pack that place to watch SDSU succeed under the likes of the great Don Coryell as head coach.

A new campus stadium with about 30,000 seats would put the Aztecs on par with Mountain West Conference foes such as Colorado State and Wyoming. Both of those universities have such-sized stadiums within a long pass from campus.

The SDSU campus appears to have an area fit for a new stadium directly east of Cox Arena and north of Hardy Avenue. A couple of buildings would need to be relocated on campus, but I’m sure the theater department would also love to have a new building in the process.

There would be many advantages of playing on campus. Among them in the location we have mentioned is the fact that multitudes of students would be within walking distance of such a facility (and could certainly serve to help SDSU build a home field advantage it does not seem to have at Qualcomm Stadium.)

The former Aztec Bowl also served as a site for a high school football game of the week. A new stadium could serve as a central location for the high schools to play and could be an ideal locale for the Channel 4 San Diego telecasts on Friday night.

I’m sure the high school players would love to play at a college facility; not to mention the fact it would be a great recruiting tool for the Aztecs.

It’s never too early for SDSU officials to be planning the future. If the Chargers leave town, the Aztecs are going to be out in the cold in football … unless they come up with such a new stadium, preferably on campus.

This week’s prediction:

No. 24 Cincinnati 34, SDSU 17

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What must LT be thinking?

There has to be a reason LaDainian Tomlinson is holding back in his comments.

Normally an outspoken player, there is something on his mind recently that he’s keeping to himself.

That being said, here’s what Tomlinson is most likely thinking:

Why did the Chargers unceremoniously dump his good friend, Drew Brees, after the 2005 season?

Why was Marty Schottenheimer let go after a 14-2 season as head coach?

Why was General Manager A.J. Smith so eager to get rid of linebacker Donnie Edwards, the backbone of the team’s defense?

With LT so far this season, numbers are speaking even louder than his few words.

Consider that last season, he had 2,323 yards in total offense and an NFL-record 31 touchdowns. After three games this season, it’s 229 total yards and three touchdowns.

Projected over a full season, his current numbers would equal 1,221 total yards and 11 TDs this season.

That’s half as many yards and one-third as many total TDs.

No wonder he’s frustrated.

For those who criticized Schottenheimer’s staff for supposed poor usage of Tomlinson in an MVP season, what do you think of the way Norv Turner is utilizing him?

Going back to what LT must be thinking, the following conclusions can be drawn:

It’s debatable whether the Chargers would be better off with Philip Rivers or Brees, who is having a horrible season in New Orleans.

There’s no debate the Chargers are suffering due to the losses of Edwards and Schottenheimer.

If the current trend continues, who takes the fall at the end of the season for not going deep into the playoffs?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Umpires need to show some class

The late Doug Harvey was the perfect example of how an umpire should conduct himself.

Harvey would get into a heated argument with the likes of Tommy Lasorda, Dick Williams or Whitey Herzog … then it was over.

The umpire would walk one way; the manager would go another. That was class.

Now we are in a society of classless umpires in Major League Baseball.

The latest example, of course, is Mike Winters.

We all know Winters called Milton Bradley a “f------ piece of s---” Sunday afternoon. Many have wanted to call Bradley that because of his previous actions; now Winters should be calling himself that for his behavior.

Bradley is no poster child for good conduct. His history tell us that.

But when Bradley reached first base in the eighth inning Sunday, it was Winters’ job to be an arbitrator. And a good arbitrator keeps the peace; he doesn’t stir the pot.

That is where Winters crossed the line Sunday. He has joined the likes of Joe West as classless umpires who think they are above the law – when they are supposed to be the law.

Winters has a history in these matters. Here's what Charlie Hayes of the Giants told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1998 after a run-in with Winters over a strike call at the plate:

"He told me to go (expletive) myself," Hayes said. "The next one who says that to me, I'm hitting in the mouth."

Not surprisingly, the two argued after the inning, Winters ejected Hayes, and teammates had to hold Hayes back from charging Winters.

Bradley probably would have at least bumped Winters and earned a suspension had Manager Bud Black not intervened. As it is, Bradley will be out for quite some time after tearing knee ligaments while Black was trying to hold him back.

Now, Bradley will be on the shelf all winter … and probably into next summer.

Winters? He should be spending his winters and summers on the sideline after crossing the line as an arbitrator.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Chargers have a lot of Norv


This is no time for excuses.

Quit saying that it will take time for Norv Turner to implement his system with the Chargers.

There is no reason for this team to be a loser at this point, just because the head coach is new. (After all, isn't former Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips 3-0 in Dallas?)

Look at the last time the Chargers hired a new head coach. His name was Marty Schottenheimer; the year 2002.

He took over a team that lost its last nine games in 2001. All his first Chargers’ team did was start out 6-1 on the way to an 8-8 season. (An injury to defensive stalwart Jamal Williams led to the team losing its final four games.)

There goes the excuse of taking time for a new coach and his team to jell.

With no apology to the apologists at the San Diego Union-Tribune, hiring Turner for the 2007 season was a horrible decision.

Turner couldn’t win in nine previous seasons as a head coach, and Hall of Famer to be Jerry Rice says Turner will never win as a head coach because he can’t motivate.

This is a Chargers’ squad that was supposed to be Super Bowl-ready. In reality, it’s a team that will be fighting for its life this Sunday against Kansas City with a 1-2 record.

Cris Collinsworth got it right during Sunday Night Football on NBC-TV. He sent out a bulletin to all teams saying you should not fire a coach who goes 14-2.

That’s what the Chargers did with Schottenheimer.

Without Schottenheimer and team leader Donnie Edwards at linebacker, the Chargers seem lost.

I wonder if a certain Union-Tribune columnist still sees General Manager A.J. Smith as the equivalent of John Wayne for being involved in the wonderful moves to get rid of Schottenheimer and Edwards.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Chargers will find out if the Pack is back



The Pack is back.

Or are they?

The Chargers will certainly find out Sunday when they make a rare regular-season appearance at Green Bay.

The good news for the Packers is that they have defeated the Philadelphia Eagles (16-13) and New York Giants (35-13).

But neither of those teams has won this season, so it’s hard to tell where the Pack stands right now.

Brett Favre may never retire. His quarterback rating of 84.0 is nothing to brag about thus far, but he does have those two wins to show for it.

Donald Driver is off to a solid start with 14 receptions and 1 touchdown, yet the Packers’ running game has looked like LaDainian Tomlinson in 2007.

And that’s where the issue comes in for the Chargers.

Has LT just had two off-games so far, or are other teams keying on him so much that he’s bound to take an individual step back in 2007?

This much is for sure: If Philip Rivers and the passing game don’t start stepping it up; opponents won’t have much more to concentrate on than LT.

The Chargers can only get away with it for so long if Antonio Gates is going to be their only legitimate receiver.

The good news for the Chargers is that nose tackle Jamal Williams is expected to play this week. Without him, San Diego loses its top defensive player.

We’ll see how Tim Dobbins does in place of the injured Matt Wilhelm at linebacker. (Yes, this is the spot that was formerly occupied by team leader Donnie Edwards.)

It’s a revenge game of sorts for the Chargers, as they try to prove that last week’s 38-14 loss at New England was an off day; not a trend.

It says here they bounce back this week.

Prediction: Chargers 24, Packers 16

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Aztecs face 'must win' this week


It’s amazing when your “must win” situation comes against a team from the ridiculously-called Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA).

But that’s what San Diego State faces when it hosts Portland State at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in front of a big crowd coming to see the postgame KGB Sky Show; not the football game.

If the Aztecs lose this one, it will be worse than the loss to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo last year.

Lose this one and it may as well all but be the end of Aztecs football. Few people seem to care now; it’s hard to imagine anybody (outside of the players and coaches) will care if they can’t come through this week.

Portland State is only 1-2, with losses coming to not-so-powerhouses McNeese State and UC Davis. At least the Aztecs (0-2) have lost to Pac-10 teams.

When it comes to coaching, Portland State clearly has a superior staff to SDSU’s.

The Vikings are under the direction of former NFL coach Jerry Glanville. Offensive coordinator Mouse Davis is the originator of the run-and-shoot offense.

We all know the Aztecs seem to come into games very unprepared. Portland State will show numerous looks offensively and defensively.

That could spell trouble for SDSU.

The Aztecs are touting this game as the chance for a third straight victory at home. I guess that means you can spin the numbers any way you want to and throw out the fact that the team is 3-11 under current head coach Chuck Long.

They better win this week … or else.

Prediction: SDSU 24, Portland State 20

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Can Padres pitchers match up in playoffs?

Since it looks like a strong possibility that the Padres will make the National League playoffs, the team might soon have to figure out its postseason pitching rotation.

Of course, the rotation would start with Jake Peavy, Greg Maddux and Chris Young.

After that, it’s a big question mark since current numbers 4 and 5 starters Brett Tomko and Jack Cassel are not eligible for the playoffs because they were not on the Padres’ roster Sept. 1.

In all likelihood, that would make Justin Germano (who has been dropped out of the rotation), the number 4 starter.

The other three all have question marks to consider:

Peavy is 0-2 with a 12.10 ERA in two postseason starts.

Maddux is 5-3 with a 3.47 ERA in the division series, but he’s just 4-8 with a 3.80 ERA in the league championship series.

Young has been the only winning pitcher for the Padres during the last two years of the playoffs, yet he has not won this season since July.

Looking at the Padres’ possible chances playoffs, these numbers are only food for thought.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Chargers don't exactly look 'Super'

Good thing coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots didn’t have a spy cam on the Chargers’ defense Sunday night.

Otherwise, maybe Tom Brady would have passed for 251 yards instead of an already career-high 151 yards in the first quarter.

Maybe Randy Moss would have caught three touchdown passes instead of two.

And maybe the Patriots would’ve beaten the Chargers 48-14 instead of 38-14.

This game obviously wasn’t about revenge for the Chargers. It was about the Patriots proving they could win fair-and-square, rather than by cheating.

The Chargers?

They don’t exactly look like a powerhouse thus far at 1-1.

"They haven’t looked good at all this season," NBC-TV color commentator John Madden correctly said.

For those who thought it was all the fault of Marty Schottenheimer and his Charger offensive coaches in last season’s playoff loss to New England, maybe it’s time to take a second look.

Or have you not noticed that Norv Turner’s Chargers are the only NFL team yet to score a point in the first half this season?

So far, the Chargers don’t exactly look "super" in 2007.

Let the next 14 regular-season games and playoff games ... if there are any ... tell the story.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Chargers hope their battery doesn't die Sunday

When the Chargers formerly had their team headquarters at Qualcomm Stadium, the media lounge was named after famous local radio personality Rick “Red” Hill.

While at the Chargers’ Murphy Canyon complex this week, Red had the battery go dead in his vehicle.

The Chargers can only hope they don’t follow Red’s lead when they play on national television Sunday night at New England.

This is a revenge game for the Chargers; another of 16 games for the Patriots.

If you don’t believe the Chargers are looking to atone for their 24-21 playoff loss to New England in January, then you’ve been listening too much to what the players are saying this week. (Obviously, they’re not going to give the Patriots any bulletin board material with their verbiage.)

In a round-about way, New England has its own reason for extra motivation Sunday. The Patriots will try to prove they can beat a team without spying on the opponents’ coaching signals.

Bill Belichick has 500,000 reasons (his $500,000 NFL fine) to prove his team can win by winning; not cheating.

New England has won its last five home openers. The Chargers did not exactly look impressive in their season-opening 14-3 win over Chicago last week in San Diego.

This one looks like the Patriots all over again.

Prediction: New England 23, San Diego 17

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Aztecs face another tough weekend


Do you want to make some money this weekend?

Take Arizona State and give the 28-point spread to San Diego State for Saturday night’s game in Tempe, Ariz.

Why?

There are 469 reasons, as in the 469 passing yards Washington State rolled up in a 45-17 win over the Aztecs last weekend.

And that was Washington State, a weaker link in the Pac-10. Arizona State figures to be a factor in the tough Pac-10 this year, which figures to be bad news for SDSU.

The Sun Devils have the nation’s No. 23-ranked passer in Rudy Carpenter.

After facing coach Chuck Long and his Aztecs, don’t be surprised if Carpenter ranks among the top 10 nationally.
Prediction: Arizona State 44, SDSU 10

Monday, September 10, 2007

Chargers need to get offensive

How about those Chargers?

Hire a former offensive coordinator as head coach and you get a great defensive performance.

The Dallas Cowboys hire the Chargers former defensive coordinator and receive a great offensive performance.

Could it be Norv Turner’s Chargers against Wade Phillips’ Cowboys in the Super Bowl?

Don’t bet on it, but don’t count out the possibility.

The Chargers may have a "revenge" game Sunday night at New England, but they better take it up a couple of notches. A repeat of their overall performance in a 14-3 win over the Chicago Bears won’t cut it against New England because of the difference in competition.

No matter what happens, it won’t take away the sting of January’s playoff loss in San Diego to the Patriots.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Are Chargers Super?

You hear it on the radio. You hear it on television. You hear it all over town.

People are saying what the Chargers do during the regular season doesn’t matter. What matters is what they do in the playoffs.

Hold on a second!

There is no guarantee this very talented team will make the playoffs in 2007.

The last time the Chargers were coming off an AFC West championship season, they went 9-7 in 2005 and didn’t even make the playoffs. So much for January.

Granted, this team is certainly right there with New England and Indianapolis as far as being a favorite to win the Super Bowl.

But the change at the top could cause some concern.

Marty Schottenheimer turned bad teams around, won in the regular season and couldn’t win a playoff game to save his life.

Norv Turner comes in with a head coaching track record of not even making the playoffs.

We’ll see.

General Manager A.J. Smith has definitely turned this team around with his maneuvering. But we’ll see this season whether the 35-13 regular season record over the past three years was because of him or Schottenheimer.

The Chargers may have shot themselves in the foot by letting go their big playmaker on defense, linebacker Donnie Edwards. Now with Kansas City, Edwards is not too fond of Smith.

“We had something great going there,” he told the Kansas City Star. “But egos destroyed it. Well, not egos. Ego.”

The season will determine if Smith’s ego got in the way of the 2007 season … or whether the Chargers can go all the way because of him.

When the Chargers open the season Sunday at home against Chicago, they will face a Bears team that went all the way to the last Super Bowl.

“It’s very special,” LaDainian Tomlinson said. “It’s a big game starting off the bat to play a team like Chicago.”

Prediction: Chargers 23, Bears 20

Here are predicted standings for the NFL season:

AFC West
Denver
San Diego
Oakland
Kansas City

AFC East
New England
New York
Miami
Buffalo

AFC North
Cincinnati
Baltimore
Pittsburgh
Cleveland

AFC South
Indianapolis
Jacksonville
Tennessee
Houston

NFC West
Seattle
Arizona
St. Louis
San Francisco

NFC East
Dallas
Philadelphia
Washington
New York

NFC North
Chicago
Detroit
Green Bay
Minnesota

NFC South
Carolina
New Orleans
Tampa Bay
Atlanta

AFC Champion: New England
NFC Champion: Carolina
Super Bowl Champion: New England

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Aztecs in for long season?

What can be made of the San Diego State football team?

Going into Saturday’s season opener against Washington State in Seattle, the Aztecs:

Have lost 16 straight games to Pac-10 opponents
Are coming off a horrible 3-9 season
Face the possibility (probability) of becoming the first team in school history with 10 losses

Yes, season No. 2 of the Chuck Long era on Montezuma Mesa looks like a longshot at best.

SDSU is meeting its match … at least in terms of preseason forecasts … against Washington State. Both teams were picked to finish eighth in their respective conference … which tells you why this game is not even being televised.

Of course, it does not bode well for the Aztecs that they are in the Mountain West Conference; a much weaker conference than where the Cougars reside.

“We are well aware of the fact that we haven’t been too successful against Pac-10 teams in the past and that we haven’t been to a bowl game in a while, but we are trying not to focus on that,” SDSU wide receiver Chaz Schilens said. “Going into the game this weekend, we are focusing on matching up well with a good team.”

The Aztecs have been anything but a good team this millennium and more, failing to have a winning season or reach a bowl game since 1998.

Unless this team with a very suspect offensive line comes around quickly, it could be staring a 10-loss season in the face.

“A win is a win and that is something we strive for every week, but obviously beating a Pac-10 team to start the season would get things off on a good note for us,” Aztecs linebacker Russell Allen said.

Don’t count on it.

Prediction: Washington State 38, SDSU 13

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Peavy: Another Koufax or Carlton?

Think about pitchers such as Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton, Randy Johnson and Dwight Gooden for a minute.

What do they have in common?

Since 1940, they are the only men to lead the league in wins, earned run average and strikeouts.

There could soon be an addition to their exclusive club … or have you not noticed the type season Jake Peavy of the Padres is having?

Peavy leads the National League in wins (16), ERA (2.10) and strikeouts (206).

If he isn’t the frontrunner for the NL Cy Young award in 2007, then Mr. Ed wasn’t a talking horse.

Now, the Padres will try something unique by pitching Peavy on three days’ rest tonight at Arizona.

No less an expert than Tony Gwynn questioned the move on Channel 4 San Diego’s telecast last night and probably for good reason. Peavy was originally scheduled to pitch Friday night against Colorado, a much better hitting team than Arizona.

So far, everything has turned up roses for Peavy this year.

We’ll see if starting him tonight is a panic move or another in a long series of decisions by Manager Bud Black that turned out golden in 2007.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Appalachian State is great

While walking along the pier in Icy Strait Point, Alaska last week, yours truly noticed a man wearing a T-shirt from the university in Boone, N.C.

“Your football team has won two straight Division I-AA national championships. Are you going to go undefeated this year?” the man was asked.

“Not this year,” he replied. “We open up with one of those money games at Michigan.”

A money game, all right. Not only did Appalachian State receive its $400,000 guarantee for playing at Michigan; the Mountaineers pulled off arguably the greatest upset in college football history with their 34-32 win over the then fifth-ranked Wolverines.

Speaking of history, the great citizens of Boone certainly know plenty when it comes to their players.

The man on tour in Alaska was asked if he remembered an Appalachian State quarterback named Daniel Jeremiah, who started at quarterback for the Mountaineers from 1998-2000.

“Yes, we remember him,” the man answered. “He’s the one whose father is David Jeremiah, the pastor on the Turning Point Ministry out of San Diego.”

They definitely know their history in Boone.

And the Mountaineers made history with an upset for the ages last weekend.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Time for a two-week break

It’s time.

Time for a two-week break from blogging, that is.

Our first five months have been quite a ride.

You always want to remember the high highs:

Predicting back in late April that Jake Peavy of the Padres would start the All-Star game.
Saying in early May that the Padres should cut their losses and cut David Wells.

But let’s forget about the low lows:

Thinking that the Chargers might pick a linebacker in the first round of the NFL draft.
Forecasting that Barry Bonds would break the Major League Baseball home run record in Petco Park (thank goodness we were wrong!)

We will continue the blogging ride on Sept. 4, the day after Labor Day.

See you then.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Channel 4 finalizes prep football schedule

Channel 4 San Diego is going straight to the top for its 2007 prep football coverage.

Carlsbad High School, the defending San Diego Section CIF Division I champion, will be featured in two of the first three games to be telecast this season.

Each of the first five games will be aired on a tape delay basis following Padres’ games and the Lexus Postgame Show.

Last year, Channel 4 received its highest ratings for prep football coverage on the tape delay games because they were promoted during the Padres’ broadcast.

Here is the schedule for the first five weeks of Friday Night Football:

Aug. 31: Carlsbad vs. St. Augustine at Mesa College
Sept. 7: Oceanside at La Costa Canyon
Sept. 14: Carlsbad at Helix
Sept. 21: Escondido at Rancho Buena Vista
Sept. 28: Grossmont at Valhalla

After Week 5, Channel 4 will base its coverage on a “flex” schedule similar to the one used by the NFL for its Sunday night games on NBC.

Those games will be based on attempting to cover the best match-up in the county each week.

Among the on-air personalities expected to be involved in the coverage are Jenny Cavnar, Chris Ello, Steve Quis and John Weisbarth.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Kevin Towers: Padres' resident genius?


If you’re going to Las Vegas any time soon, take Padres general manager Kevin Towers with you.

Why? It seems like everything he touches turns into a winner.

Just take his recent acquisitions for example and tell us how:

Scott Hairston hits three consecutive home runs, including a game-winner, after he replaces the injured Milton Bradley.
Morgan Ensberg homers in his first at bat as a first baseman when Adrian Gonzalez gets a rare night off.
Michael Barrett doesn’t succeed behind the plate, but his presence spurs Josh Bard on to greater heights.

Then there are the pitching miracles:

Tim Stauffer starts in place of the injured Chris Young and gets racked. The Padres still win.
Wil Ledezma starts for David Wells after Wells is cut, and Ledezma gets knocked around. The Padres win again.

The list goes on and on concerning how the Padres have conquered the odds this year.

Speaking of odds, don’t bet against Towers when he makes moves that may not appear that great on paper.