Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Chargers' A.J. Smith: He's no John Wayne!

Notice how one local sports columnist often refers to Chargers’ General Manager A.J. Smith as John Wayne?

These days, he’d be better off calling Smith another “John Doe.”

In the “what have you done for me lately category,” the answer for Smith is simple:

Not much.

A.J. took much credit for building the Chargers with such free agent moves as bringing in veteran linebackers Randall Godfrey and Steve Foley in 2004 (not to mention drafting Philip Rivers in 2004 and Shawne Merriman in 2005.)

But when you look at the recent free agent/draft picks of the Chargers, it makes you wonder.

How about No. 1 draft pick Buster Davis from 2007? He’s a bust.

How about free agent linebacker Derek Smith, signed before the 2008 season? He’s no longer here.

And how about running back Michael Turner, who left the Chargers through free agency for the Atlanta Falcons?

He’s far superior this year to LaDainian Tomlinson, whose presence led to Turner’s departure.

Smith pounded his chest when the Chargers were successful under Marty Schottenheimer (at least during the regular season.)

Now he should hide his head in shame for hiring Norv Turner, who only makes the playoffs twice a decade as a head coach.

As much as Smith always wanted to take the credit, he certainly must take much of the heat for the team’s downfall in 2008.

Sunday selection:
Atlanta 24, Chargers 20 (Falcons win game on last drive!!!)

Monday, November 24, 2008

San Diego State needs to drop football

San Diego State has said good bye to football coach Chuck Long.
Now SDSU needs to say "good riddance" to its football program.
In short, the program is a joke. The Aztecs have suffered 10 straight non-winning seasons while recording a .333 "winning" percentage.
SDSU is among three of 23 California State University (CSU) schools still playing major college football.
Of the other two, Fresno State is successful and San Jose State at least keeps its head above water.
In tough financial times, SDSU President Stephen Weber keeps handing millions of "discretional" dollars to athletics.
Forget about overcrowded classrooms. Forget about the library.
Good money keeps being thrown at a horrible football team.
University sources say all departments are being told to tighten their financial belts during a bad economy.
Student fees will even be raised (again) to cover the athletics budget. (This, during a time when the CSU will admit 10,000 fewer students next school year.)
SDSU would have to leave the Mountain West Conference if it drops football.
So what. There is still the Big West, a competitive basketball conference which would save on the travel budget.
And at a time when the economy is at its worst, the worst thing for SDSU to do is keep alive a football program that is a terrible drain on the university budget.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Norv Turner: Downfall of the Chargers?

Let’s compare the head coaching careers of Marty Schottenheimer and Norv Turner.

The rap on Schottenheimer was that he could turn around a terrible team and win in the regular season, but never in the playoffs.

In contrast, Turner just flat-out has a history of not making the playoffs as a head coach (he’s only done it twice in 10 years.)

Two seasons very well justify the feelings about each coach, when you consider 2004 vs. 2008.

In 2004, Schottenheimer was coaching what was believed to be the least talented team in the NFL with the Chargers. (It was so bad that first-round draft pick Eli Manning refused to play for San Diego.)

So what happened?

The Chargers went 12-4, were the surprise team of the NFL and lost in the first round of the playoffs when Nate Kaeding couldn’t make a 40-yard field goal.

(Just what you would expect from Schottenheimer, who was 200-126 in the regular season and 5-13 in the playoffs.)

Fast forward to 2008:

The Chargers have what many consider the best talent in the NFL.

So what has Turner done for them lately? How about leading them to a 4-6 record and the distinction as the most disappointing team in the NFL thus far?

The Chargers got rid of Schottenheimer for not winning in the playoffs, only to hire someone who rarely makes the playoffs. What a shame it would be if this Turner-led team didn’t even make the postseason coming from a crummy AFC West division.

You want a head coach who at least make the playoffs, or one who makes the GM happy by being his buddy?

Unfortunately, you’re stuck with the latter.

Weekend predictions:
Indianapolis Colts 26, Chargers 24
UNLV 27, San Diego State 17

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chargers: Biggest flops in the NFL!

Which team is the most disappointing in the NFL?

Without a doubt, it’s the Chargers.

Here’s a team in the weakest AFC division by far that came into the season with Super Bowl expectations.

And here’s a team that finds itself two games behind the resurgent Denver Broncos with six to play.

So what is happening?

Where do you start …?

It’s almost inhumane to pick on head coach Norv Turner because his ineffectiveness as a leader is more than well documented.

The stubbornness of General Manager A. J. Smith has … and will continue … to drive successful players and coaches away from the team.

Then there’s the immediate:

This team has not recorded a turnover in 17 quarters … or more than four games.

The inept offense totaled 213 yards against Pittsburgh; or 197 fewer yards than the Steelers.

Pittsburgh had 110 more penalty yards than the Chargers; so much for the theory that the officials are against the Chargers.

Then there’s the defense that has allowed the opposition to score four times on its final drive in pressure situations. Three amounted to losses; the other to a one-point win vs. undermanned Kansas City.

Where this stops, nobody knows. Where it should start is with the dismissal of the egotistical Smith and the underachieving Turner.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chargers: Will weekend be the Pitts?

Let’s see now:

The Pittsburgh Steelers lead the NFL in total defense.

They are first in pass defense, second against the rush, and tops in sacks.

The Chargers can’t run the ball. (Just ask LaDainian Tomlinson, who has made an issue of it all week.)

They can pass; but they can’t protect the quarterback too well.

On top of all that, the Chargers were underwhelming in a one-point escape at home against lowly Kansas City last week.

So how can the Chargers possibly beat Pittsburgh?

Remember, Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger is banged up and has one TD pass along with eight interceptions his last three games.

But therein lies the rub for the Chargers: They have recorded ZERO turnovers in the past 13 quarters.

It all comes down to the Chargers creating some turnovers or suffering their third loss in the past four games.

Steelers 21, Chargers 17
Utah 38, San Diego State 10

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Padres should close out Hoffman era

Sorry, but it’s time for Trevor Hoffman and the Padres to go their separate ways.

This is certainly not a knock on Hoffman. Nor is it one on the organization.

With all of the acrimony at this point, it would just be best for everyone if Hoffman departs.

If Hoffman has anything left at age 41, then he should be part of a pennant contender. It isn’t going to happen in San Diego.

Since the Padres are obviously rebuilding, they need to discover the identity of their next closer.

Hoffman, the all-time saves leader in Major League Baseball, has been an icon in San Diego for more than a decade.

But last season, it became apparent there wasn’t much gas left in his tank. His 2008 ERA of 3.77 paled in comparison to his career ERA of 2.78.

And remember, Hoffman came to the Padres in 1993 as part of a fire sale from the Florida Marlins.

For those old enough to recall, Hoffman was booed during his early years with the Padres because he represented (not by his own desire) the fire sale of the franchise.

Now, in a very similar situation, it’s time to find out whether Heath Bell can come within 50% of being the next Hoffman.

Maybe he will. Maybe he’ll be the next Gary Lucas.

But in either case, it’s time for Hoffman to join a contender … and the Padres to find their next closer.

Monday, November 10, 2008

There's no defense for the Chargers

Boy, was that “new look” Chargers’ defense impressive (tongue in cheek!)

Was it me, or did the “new” San Diego defense under Ron Rivera look the same as the old under Ted Cottrell?

Still no pressure on the quarterback. Still no turnovers in 13 quarters; and one in the past four games.

And still no stopping of another team’s final drive when the game was on the line.

With a 20-19 luck-out over Kansas City, the Chargers posed more questions than they answered.

What if the Chiefs hadn’t muffed a snap on an extra point? What if Kansas City had a decent play planned on a potential game-winning, 2-point conversion?

The Chargers would be looking at a 3-6 record, which still wouldn’t eliminate them from competition in the worst division ever in the NFL.

Under Rivera, it was the same-old, same-old for the Chargers defense.

The only players with above-average games defensively were Jamal Williams and Quentin Jammer.

Otherwise, this team was lucky KC played with a third-string quarterback, third-string running back and four defensive players who weren’t even on the team a week ago (and thus missed being included on the roster printed at mid-week.)

If the Chargers keep this up, they may not even post the 7-9 record it will take to win the woeful AFC West this season.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Chargers primed for second half run?

The last time the Chargers were home, they held an opponent to 10 points.

Ted Cottrell’s defense was being praised, and the New England Patriots had their collective heads between their tales.

My, how times have changed.

Cottrell is no longer defensive coordinator of the Chargers; head coach Norv Turner has been very defensive of his move to make Ron Rivera his coordinator.

Has it really been nearly a month since the Chargers won their last home game by beating New England, 30-10?

Yes … and it has also be that long since the Chargers won a game.

Say hello to the downtrodden Kansas City Chiefs.

This game could be a landslide compared to what Barack Obama experienced this week.

The Chiefs can’t stop the run. Their top two quarterbacks are injured. Their most talented running back is suspended.

And, yet, one still can’t forget how Kansas City came in here and embarrassed the Chargers last season, 30-16.

The Chargers remember. That was when San Diego fans chanted “Mar-ty, Mar-ty,” in remembering fired coach Marty Schottenheimer and his 14-2 record from 2006.

Are the Chargers ready to make a second-half run like last season, or will the fans want to run them out of town again this weekend?

Chargers 34, Chiefs 13
Brigham Young 55, San Diego State 10

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jan Goldsmith: Chargers' last hope in San Diego?

Newly-elected city attorney Jan Goldsmith may be the Chargers’ last hope of staying in San Diego.

The team certainly wasn’t ever going to work out a stadium deal with current contentious city attorney Mike Aguirre.

Until Tuesday’s elections, the alternatives were:
(a) a new stadium in Chula Vista
(b) a new stadium at the 10th Avenue Terminal near downtown

Chula Vista won’t happen because it would be wrong to build a billion-dollar stadium in a city cutting back on employees.

The 10th Avenue Terminal is out now that the fine citizens of San Diego voted not to build a deck/possible stadium on top of the terminal.

That really narrows it down to one location: The current site at Qualcomm Stadium.

With the constant bickering between the Chargers and Aguirre, a new stadium wasn’t going to happen in the city of San Diego.

With Goldsmith, at least the Chargers should/will negotiate.

There’s no better place to build than the current Mission Valley site of Qualcomm Stadium.

It’s third and long: We’ll see whether the Chargers run a bootleg out of town or have civil negotiations with Goldsmith.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Chargers could win AFC West with losing record

So you still think the Chargers won’t win the AFC West?

Did you see the Denver Broncos lose to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday?

At this point, the Broncos might not be able to beat the San Ysidro High junior varsity.

Denver is toast, but so are the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. So that leaves the Chargers to win the AFC West; probably even if they finish with a losing record at 7-9.

Sure, Denver leads the division at 4-4. (The Broncos will likely be 4-5 with a loss Thursday at Cleveland.) Then, if the Chargers win as expected Sunday at home vs. Kansas City, they’ll be tied for the division lead at 4-5.

How do you say “pathetic?”

At the midway point of the 2008 season, the numbers prove that the Chargers are indeed in the worst division in football.

Here’s a look at each division’s overall record in games outside its respective division:

NFC East 18-5
NFC South 16-7
AFC East 14-8
AFC South 12-8
AFC North 6-10
NFC North 7-13
NFC West 6-16
AFC West 5-17

Any question now as to whether the Chargers will win the worst division in football?