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.


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.


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
San Diego
Kansas City

AFC East
New England
New York

AFC North

AFC South

NFC West
St. Louis
San Francisco

NFC East
New York

NFC North
Green Bay

NFC South
New Orleans
Tampa Bay

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.