Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chargers: Is there any defense for Rivera?

OK, so it’s all on Ron Rivera now to save the season for the Chargers.

He says he’s going to bring more pressure on defense. Players say his system will be more effective than under fired defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell.

Stay tuned.

Don’t be surprised if the revamped defense works right away.

After all, the Chargers return after this week’s bye to host the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 9.

It will be their first home games in four weeks, so the crowd will certainly be pumped up.

And what better way to break in a new defensive coordinator than against the Chiefs?

After all, what is there to fear against a team featuring Tyler Thigpen at quarterback and a disappearing Larry Johnson?

Heck, you would think a good community college team could stop the Chiefs.

The real Rivera test comes in mid-November with back-to-back-to-back games vs. Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Atlanta.

Those games will make or break the season.

This week’s prediction:
Wyoming 27, San Diego State 22

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chargers fire defensive coordinator ... coach, GM next?

So Ted Cottrell is gone as defensive coordinator of the Chargers.

Say hello to Ron Rivera.

Let’s face it: The Chargers fired Cottrell today because his tired defensive schemes weren’t working.

And in Rivera, they have a man who was defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears when they advanced to the Super Bowl two seasons ago.

Now comes the real question: Will the Chargers live up to Rivera’s reputation as a defensive coordinator, or down to Norv Turner’s history as a head coach?

Turner has only made the playoffs twice in 10 seasons as a head coach, but he did advance to the AFC Championship with the Chargers last season.

And just like last year, the schedule gets easier for the Chargers down the stretch with five out of eight games at home.

The team certainly has a lot in its favor despite a 3-5 record … a weak division, a weaker schedule upcoming and a Nov. 9 home date against a pathetic Kansas City team following this week’s bye.

If this team can’t step up and make the playoffs at this point, then it’s time for Turner and General Manager A.J. Smith to step down.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A.J. Smith: "Genius" behind the Chargers

Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio … or Shawne Merriman?

Just think: “Genius” General Manager A.J. Smith of the Chargers isn’t going to keep Merriman anyway when the All-Pro linebacker’s contract expires after 2009.

Put that down as another move equaling the “genius” strategy of getting rid of Drew Brees.

Who was that Brees guy throwing for 339 yards and 3 TDs as the New Orleans Saints beat the Chargers, 37-32, Sunday in London?

Seems like he wasn’t good enough for the Chargers to keep; but too good for the Chargers to stop.

And to think the Saints did it all without star running back/kick returner Reggie Bush.

Yes, A.J. sure looks like a “genius” for thinking the Chargers are just fine without Merriman, who is sitting out the season with a knee injury.

They didn’t lay a hand on Brees, which is the tradition without Merriman … not the exception.

We all know A.J. is a “genius” for getting rid of the likes of Brees, Marty Schottenheimer and Donnie Edwards (at least Schottenheimer could win during the regular season, and Edwards could intercept passes.)

Before Merriman departs after the 2009 season, who knows what other star will go first.

Too bad Smith is too stubborn to admit his mistakes. Otherwise, he’d be sending coach Norv Turner and defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell packing today.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Orleans Saints: No place like the road?

The NFL owes the New Orleans Saints a home game … or two.

Back in 2005, the Saints lost a home game because of Hurricane Katrina.

Their first scheduled home game was moved to Giants Stadium to face the New York Giants (with New Orleans designated as the home team.)

OK, so at that point; you’d think the NFL would owe the Saints a home game … and maybe the Giants a road game.

So what happens?

The Giants play the Miami Dolphins at London in 2007 with the Dolphins designated as the home team. Thus, the Giants don’t lose a home game … even though they were given an extra home game in 2005.

Now, the Saints are being designated as the “home” team in Sunday’s game against the Chargers in London. This means the Saints are losing another home game in New Orleans (this is not meant to say the Chargers should be deprived of a home game.)

Why do the Saints keep losing home games, but not the Giants?

It’s simple: Like all other sports leagues, the NFL is all about New York.

And that’s really too bad for the fine citizens of New Orleans.

Weekend predictions:
Chargers 23, Saints 20
Colorado State 38, San Diego State 17

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chargers: Looking a lot like 2005?

All of a sudden, this season is starting to look like 2005 all over again for the Chargers.

Back then, the Chargers were also a heavy favorite to win the AFC West.

Back then, they also started the season 0-2 before rallying to be 4-4 after eight games (which would be their record with a win Sunday vs. New Orleans in London.)

Back then, the Chargers had to play five games in the Eastern Time zone. (This year, it’s four on East Coast time and one in London.)

Yes, there are many similarities.

The 2005 Chargers did rally to win five straight at one point; extending their record to 8-4.

But they lost three of their final four to finish 9-7, the exception being at win at Indianapolis to snap the Colts’13-0 record.

So what’s the difference this year?

The Denver Broncos.

In 2005, the Broncos finished 13-3 and made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game before losing to eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh.

The Broncos are 4-3 this season and will be lucky to finish .500.

So despite all the similarities in the Chargers to 2005, the biggest difference in the AFC West is the weakness of the Broncos.

And that may be enough for an average Chargers team to make the playoffs this season with an 8-8 or 9-7 record.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Who is the worst football team in San Diego?

Who is the most disappointing football team in San Diego?

Is it:

The Chargers, who may not even make the playoffs?

San Diego State, which may not win another game?

You can make a case for both.

The Chargers were supposed to be good enough to win the Super Bowl. At 3-4, they would be out of the race already in some divisions … luckily; they’re in the worst NFL division in the AFC West.

The Aztecs were at least supposed to be competitive this year. After a 70-7 loss at New Mexico last week, one must wonder if they have given up on the season … and will suffer the first 10-loss season in school history.

How bad is it?

People are now starting to write letters to the editor again, questioning if Norv Turner is back to his historic losing ways as a head coach.

Yet there’s so little interest in SDSU football that there’s not even a Web site to be found.

Both teams are beyond disappointing at this point. There will be great interest (or lack of) to see which team can snap out of the doldrums.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Chargers must focus on Buffalo ... not London

Let’s get something straight.

The Chargers shouldn’t look at it as if they’re embarking on a 10-day trip this weekend.

View it as a three-day trip to Buffalo; then a seven-day trip to London to play the New Orleans Saints.

All over local radio and TV this week, you hear questions (from media) and answers (from Chargers) about the trip to London.

Hey, what about Buffalo?

The Bills so happen to lead the AFC East with a 4-1 record and they are coming off a bye.

The last time the Chargers played a team coming off a bye was two weeks ago in Miami.

Need you be reminded what happened then?

Forget about London for now. Concentrate on Buffalo.

Otherwise, a long trip will be made even longer by a loss to the upstart Bills.

Weekend predictions:
Bills 24, Chargers 20
New Mexico 38, San Diego State 13

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

San Diego Fox5 News Can't Catch a Break

This could have been an opportunity for endless promotions for the struggling San Diego Fox5 News.

Just think: A World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox would mean tons of viewers for Fox5 watching Manny Ramirez face his old team.

Then, Fox5 could promote the heck out of its glamour girls such as Kathleen Bade, Arthel Neville and Chrissy Russo from its bumbling news shows.

Well, bad news for the Dodgers and Red Sox could mean worse news for Fox5 … if the Dodgers and Red Sox don’t make the World Series; forget about high rankings for Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia.

And even more so in San Diego, forget about the multitude of viewers who could be inundated with Fox5 News promos during the World Series.

Low ratings would certainly be the order of the day for Rays-Phillies; just as low rankings now follow Fox5 news because it still isn’t up to par despite the babes.

The Dodgers and Red Sox could each come back from current 3-1 deficits, but it’s doubtful. After all, each team would have to win the final two games of its current series on the road even if either were to win a Game 5 at home.

The bad news for Fox nationally is that it probably isn’t going to get the Dodgers-Red Sox World Series that is so desires.

The worse news for Fox5 locally is that there won’t be nearly as many people viewing the countless teases of its female personalities.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chargers impressive win is a (coin) toss up

Josh Lewin, the outstanding radio play-by-play voice of the Chargers, made an interesting comment in his postgame analysis Sunday night.

Lewin said the key to the Chargers’ 30-10 whipping of New England may have been winning the coin toss before the game.

How true!

It marked the first time in six games that the Chargers have won the toss. The interesting question was whether to receive or defer till the second half.

Coach Norv Turner wisely chose to go on offense first.

By doing so, the normally slow-starting Chargers were able to put a dagger in the Patriots right off the bat.

A 48-yard pass from Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson on the first play from scrimmage got things going. From then on, the crowd was into the game.

It was 10-0 Chargers within 11 minutes; 17-3 Chargers by halftime.

If there was a lesson learned here, it was to take the ball first whenever winning the coin flip (and hope the other team defers if it wins the toss.)

For the first time this season, the Chargers truly looked like the Super Bowl team that multitudes have predicted.

Whether they make it to the Big Game is a toss up; let’s just hope they keep winning the coin toss!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Norv Turner: Back to his old head coaching tricks?

Lance McCune of Bonsall may come from a small community, but he made a major comment concerning the San Diego Chargers in the San Diego Union-Tribune this week:

“Memo to A.J. Smith: Looks like you kept the wrong Turner,” McCune wrote.

With Michael Turner leading the NFL in rushing for the upstart Atlanta Falcons, maybe the Chargers did indeed keep the wrong Turner.

After all, through five games, it appears as if head coach Norv Turner is back to his old tricks with a 2-3 record.

Turner, now in his 11th season as a head coach, has a career record of 71-90-1 (.441 winning percentage.)

He’s only been to the postseason twice, splitting two games as head coach of the Washington Redskins in 1999 and going 2-1 in the postseason with the 2007 Chargers.

Of course, he was brought here to win in the postseason. Previous Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer couldn’t win in the postseason if the game was handed to him on a platter.

Therein comes the next debate. At least Schottenheimer reached the playoffs, which is more than Turner has done 80% of the time as a head coach.

The Chargers are supposed to be Super Bowl-worthy this year. Thus far, it appears as if they are more than “worthy” of Turner’s losing record as a head coach.

They better turn things around soon, or else it will be obvious they got rid of the wrong Turner.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dodgers should be hooting, howling in NLCS

During Game 3 of the 1977 National League Championship Series (NLCS) in Philadelphia, the crowd noise caused Los Angeles Dodgers’ pitcher Burt “Hoot Owl” Hooton to lose control.

He walked three consecutive batters, and couldn’t even make it out of the second inning.

Will the Phillies’ fans again get to the Dodgers when the 2008 NLCS begins Thursday?

Probably not.

There are three main reasons the Dodgers should win:

Joe Torre: He was criticized annually for not getting out of the first round with the New York Yankees. The Yankees didn’t even make the playoffs this year; Torre advanced to Round 2. Advantage: Torre.

Manny Ramirez: He stopped playing for the Boston Red Sox but can’t stop playing for the Dodgers. Don’t expect him to stop now. Advantage: Manny.

Greg Maddux. OK, he’s only 2-5 with the Dodgers. But do you see how the LA pitchers – especially the younger ones – immediately go to Maddux when they come out of a game?

The Dodgers’ fourth advantage is a somewhat healthy Rafael Furcal at shortstop. He may not be the .357 hitter he was before being injured in May, but his mere presence at the top of the batting order makes the Dodgers better.

NLCS: Advantage, Dodgers.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Chargers: Where have you gone Michael Turner?

At some point, the Chargers need to re-evaluate their running back position.

How about now?

As the season has progressed, it’s becoming obvious that LaDainian Tomlinson is being more bothered by his injured toe than he is letting on.

He had 12 carries for just 35 yards in Sunday’s 17-10 stinker at Miami, being stopped from 1-yard out on fourth down when the Chargers could have tied the game.

Out of five games this season, Tomlinson has only had one above average performance; at Oakland. (And he always plays well there.)

On the other hand, Darren Sproles is emerging as the better back.

Consider the stats:

Tomlinson has 77 carries for 296 yards (3.8 average) and 4 TDs. He’s also caught 10 passes for 58 yards.

In a much more limited role, Sproles has 20 rushes for 106 yards (5.3 average.) He’s also caught 5 passes for 116 yards and 1 TD.

This is not to suggest that Sproles can be an every-down back. At 5-foot-6 and 180 pounds dripping wet, he can only take so much punishment.

The Chargers used to have an alternative named Michael Turner. All he has done is lead the NFL in rushing and boost the Atlanta Falcons to a surprising 3-2 record.

As Lance McCune of Bonsall said so well in a backhanded slap to coach Norv Turner of the 2-3 Chargers:

“Memo to A.J. Smith: Looks like you kept the wrong Turner.”

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Chargers hope to revive Miami memories

If you’re old enough, you will definitely remember the last time that the Chargers won a game at Miami.

Who can forget that epic playoff game on Jan. 2, 1982 when the Chargers prevailed in overtime 41-38?

Remember the game-winning, 29-yard field goal by Rolf Benirschke 13:52 into overtime; remember the photos of an exhausted Kellen Winslow being helped off the field by two teammates.


What’s not so classic are recent performances by the Chargers, who have lost six straight to the Dolphins.

The most recent, a 23-21 loss in 2005, came at a time when the Chargers controlled their playoff destiny beforehand (but never did make the playoffs.)

Then two years previous, the Monday night game was moved to Phoenix because of massive wildfires in San Diego with the Dolphins winning, 26-10.

It’s a little different now with the Chargers being (somewhat) considered a powerhouse and the Dolphins a pushover … until their stunning upset of New England two weeks ago.

Miami has not won two straight since November 2006 … and it says here the streak will continue.

Weekend Predictions:
Chargers 24, Dolphins 17
Texas Christian 41, San Diego State 13

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Al Davis: The root of Raiders' evil

Sometimes, it’s interesting to know what the average fan is saying.

Last weekend, a visitor from Blythe, Calif., told me what the numerous Oakland Raiders’ fans in his hometown are thinking.

“They’re just waiting for Al Davis to die,” he said.

As cruel as that is, Raider fans have come to realize that the game has long-since passed Davis by. He may be able to outline “wrongdoings” by fired coach Lane Kiffin in an attempt not to pay Kiffin, but the evil starts with Davis.

(Can you imagine how long it would take for someone to outline Davis’ wrongs over the past six years; such as Davis did with Kiffin yesterday?)

To start with, Davis has had five coaches over the past six seasons. Kiffin has the second “winningest” percentage among them with his 5-15 record. (Would you believe the “best” Raiders coach during that time was Norv Turner at 9-23?)

Heck, new Raiders interim coach Tom Cable had a worse winning percentage at the University of Idaho than Kiffin did with the Raiders.

Perhaps Terrell Davis put it best on the NFL Network.

“I don’t think anybody in his right mind would want to coach the Raiders,” the former Denver Broncos star said.

Speaking of, Davis still owes current Broncos coach Mike Shanahan money from when Shanahan (like Kiffin) was supposedly fired with cause in the mid -1990s by Davis.

As Davis continues to seek what is ailing the Raiders, the best advice is for him to take a long, long look in the mirror.