Sunday, December 28, 2008

Chargers haven't accomplished anything, yet

The Chargers will try to do something Saturday night they have yet to do all season:

Beat a playoff team.

All eight of their wins during the regular season came against teams that failed to make the playoffs: Kansas City (twice), Oakland (twice), Denver, Tampa Bay, New England and the New York Jets.

Five of their eight losses were against teams in the playoffs: Carolina, Miami, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Atlanta.

What does this all mean for the playoffs?

Nothing (and how many times this week will you hear everybody is 0-0 starting the playoffs?)

The Chargers did have some significant accomplishments:
They are the first team ever to start 4-8 and make the playoffs
They are the first team ever to make up a three-game deficit in the final three weeks of the season to win a division
They have not lost a December game in three years

Historically, the Chargers have had similar seasons:
In 1992, they became the first team ever to start a season 0-4 and make the playoffs
In 1995, they started 4-7 but made the playoffs by winning their final five games.

And by the way, the 1995 team lost its first playoff game at home to the Indianapolis Colts, 35-20.

The Chargers can only hope history does not repeat itself 13 years later.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Will Chargers feast on Broncos?

We all know what is ... and has been ... at stake for the Chargers.

They’ve received the help they needed; now it’s time to help themselves.

The stumbling Denver Broncos seem to be a perfect post-Christmas dessert for getting into the playoffs.

Not so fast!

The Broncos do lose at home when they are expected to win (see: Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills.)

But they are most potent on the road when they are supposed to lose (see: Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets.)

If the Broncos keep up their unpredictable trends of 2008, they have a good chance Sunday Night.

Don’t count on it.

Chargers 31, Broncos 23

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fate smiling on Chargers:)

Ed Hochuli aside, fate has been smiling on the Chargers this year.

How else can you explain a 7-8 team that can advance to the playoffs with a win Sunday Night at home vs. the Denver Broncos?

How else can you explain the Broncos losing at home to the Buffalo Bills?

And how else can you explain the Chargers (if they are 8-8) playing at HOME against the Indianapolis Colts (12-4 or 11-5) in the wild card round of the playoffs if the Chargers win this week?

Yes, despite it all, everything really has gone the Chargers’ way this year.

After this week, two teams among Baltimore (10-5), Miami (10-5), New England (10-5) and the New York Jets (9-6) will sit home during the playoffs.

All will have a better record than the Chargers or Denver – yet the Chargers or Broncos will go to the playoffs.

The Chargers certainly did their part with a dominating 41-24 win at Tampa Bay yesterday.

But more than anything, the stars have aligned just right for the Chargers in situations they did not control.

And to think they now control their own destiny!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Life more than fair to Chargers?

We all know that life isn’t fair sometimes.

For the Chargers, that’s a good thing.

If they still somehow manage to make the playoffs by finishing with an 8-8 record, it won’t be fair to many teams.

After all, teams such as Indianapolis, Baltimore, Miami, New England and the New York Jets will each finish with a better record than the Chargers.

But some of them will be on the outside looking in – whether the Chargers make the playoffs or sit home in January.

And as local TV personality Michael Turko says: “That ain’t right.”

It may not have been right when Denver beat the Chargers on a bogus call by referee Ed Hochuli in Week 2, but now the playoff picture is more than fair to the Chargers.

If the Chargers don’t win this week at Tampa Bay, forget about it. The Denver Broncos are in and the Chargers are out from the AFC West.

Yet should the Chargers someone win Sunday at Tampa Bay and Denver loses at home to Buffalo, the AFC West all comes down to Denver at San Diego on Dec. 28.

Don’t count on it!

Tampa Bay 17, Chargers 13

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Brady Hoke needs to produce within three years

Brady Hoke is the first tough-talking football coach at San Diego State since Al Luginbill in the late 1980s and early ‘90s.

On the field, Hoke will need to have tougher teams than Luginbill.

Despite having Marshall Faulk and Darnay Scott in back-to-back seasons, Luginbill’s teams only finished .500 both of those years.

Hoke needs to get the Aztecs to .500 or better within three years, or the football team may fold when SDSU selects its next president after Stephen Weber retires in 2 ½ years. (Weber has made it clear the team will continue to exist on his watch.)

It took Hoke five years into his six-year tenure at Ball State to turn that team around.

He had four straight losing records before finally finishing above .500. Then this year’s team was a remarkable 12-1.

However, starting with four (or even three) consecutive losing seasons at SDSU could mean the end of Aztec football.

Under Weber’s watch, the athletics program keeps begging and borrowing from other campus entities, boosters, etc. to keep going. In a down economy, this can’t go on forever.

Brady Hoke basically has three years to get things going. Otherwise, don’t be surprised if Weber’s successor will be charged with the task of pulling the plug on Aztec football.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chargers: Luckiest team in the NFL

Let’s not talk any more about how the Chargers have lost four games in the final 24 seconds.

Let’s not blame it on Ed Hochuli if the Chargers don’t make the playoffs.

When you come right down to it, the Chargers are the luckiest team in the NFL from Week 15.

Outplayed for 59 minutes by Kansas City, the Chargers stumbled their way to a 22-21 win over the two-win Chiefs on Sunday.

This was more luck than anything. Kansas City isn’t 2-12 without reason; it doesn’t know how to win.

If the Chiefs knew how to win, they would have swept the Chargers this season; instead of being swept in a pair of one-point losses.

Everybody is on the bandwagon again now that the Chargers could stay alive in the coming week by winning at Tampa Bay (not likely) AND if Denver loses at home to Buffalo.

But here’s a sobering thought going into this week:

The Chargers have only beaten teams named Oakland and Kansas City since Week 6.

Unless the Chargers step it up about three notches against Tampa Bay, they’ll only be wishing they could play Oakland and Kansas City again.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chargers trying to prolong the obvious

The Chargers have not lost a December game since 2005.

The Kansas City Chiefs have not been defeated at home since 1997 to a team they lost to in their first meeting of a particular season.

So, something has to give Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

How about the Chiefs … barely?

If the Chargers lose, the Denver Broncos will be celebrating an AFC West championship before playing the Carolina Panthers later that afternoon.

Don’t count on it.

The Chiefs (2-11) are a great reminder of the Ryan Leaf-led Chargers who went 1-15 in 2000.

They seemingly always play just well enough to lose; coming close but not closing out the deal.

Kansas City has 19 rookies on its roster, which makes it a team of the future. And don’t be surprised if the Chiefs surpass the Chargers by 2010 … as long as Norv Turner is still coaching in San Diego.

Expect the Chargers to stay alive this week by winning and later having the Broncos lose. But don’t hold your breath the next week when the Chargers are at Tampa Bay and Denver is at home against Buffalo.

The champagne should be flowing in Denver in about a week.

Chargers 24, Chiefs 22

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chargers may be bad; instead of unlucky

It’s easy to say the Chargers suffered from bad luck with All-Pro linebacker Shawne Merriman injured for the season.

But there’s another way to look at it: The Chargers have also been very lucky in some regards.

Take the Denver Broncos. They are down to their No. 6 running back due to injuries … yet they are still beating out the Chargers in the AFC West.

Tatum Bell, the current running back, was selling cell phones for a living last month.

And how about a couple of the opponents this season?

Carolina played their Chargers when its start receiver Steve Smith was suspended; yet the Panthers still won.

Kansas City faced the Chargers the first time around with standout running back Larry Johnson on suspension; yet came within a fumbled snap on an extra point of winning.

There’s no doubt the Chargers are worse off without Merriman, but how would they be faring without their top five running backs … a la the Broncos?

Without a doubt, they would be doing a lot worse than the Broncos … who are making the playoffs; not excuses.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cincinnati-Virginia Tech don't belong in Orange Bowl

Why are Cincinnati and Virginia Tech playing in the Orange Bowl, one of five BCS games?

Let’s forget about the controversy over whether there should be a national championship playoff.

How about what happens on the other end of the BCS spectrum?

Cincinnati (Big East) and Virginia Tech (Atlantic Coast Conference) are only in a BCS game because their respective conferences are guaranteed a spot.

What does this say for conferences such as the Mountain West and Western Athletic, which clearly have more deserving teams this year?

The Poinsettia Bowl features Boise State (12-0) of the WAC against Texas Christian (10-2) of the Mountain West.

Boise State is ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press poll; TCU is No. 11. Each is ranked ahead of Orange Bowl competitors Cincinnati (No. 12) and Virginia Tech (No. 21).

Yet Boise State and TCU are playing pre-Christmas, while Cincinnati-Virginia Tech is featured on New Year’s Night. Ridiculous!

When you include Utah (No. 7) and Brigham Young (No. 17) along with TCU, the Mountain West has three teams rated ahead of Virginia Tech. Yet only Utah is in a BCS game via its perfect 12-0 season.

So while most people (rightfully) argue that the BCS should have an eight-team playoff to determine a national championship, the entire BCS needs to be revised.

There’s no way Cincinnati and Virginia Tech should be in a BCS game while the likes of Boise State, TCU and BYU are on the outside looking in.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Too bad Chargers can't always play Raiders

Are they the Super Chargers again, or what?

How about that suddenly spirited defense?

How about those three interceptions and three sacks?

How about LaDainian Tomlinson and his 91 rushing yards?

How about Vincent Jackson and his 148 receiving yards?

Are those Chargers dominant or just plain Super?

Whoops; forgot one thing.

Those were the pathetic-plus Oakland Raiders the Chargers beat 34-7 Thursday night.

Oakland is so bad that it probably couldn’t beat San Ysidro High School.

For all the talk about how the Chargers rebounded this week and could still make a run to the playoffs, just remember they don’t play the Raiders every week.

A game at Tampa Bay looms in two weeks; which will eliminate the Chargers from playoff contention if they haven’t already been eliminated by then.

But at least for one night, the Chargers did look like the team that most “experts” thought they would be all season long in 2008.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Chargers-Raiders: Not ready for prime time

“It’s Raider Short Week.”

With apologies to Marty Schottenheimer, we have added a word to his “It’s Raider Week” slogan as the Chargers prepare to host the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.

And with many apologies to Schottenheimer; he should still be the coach of the Chargers.

But you’re stuck with Norv Turner. And you’re stuck with General Manager A.J. Smith, who’s no John Wayne … or John Doe for that matter.

The dysfunctional Chargers might actually win a game against the Raiders.

If they do, you’ll hear all about how the team rallied around its embattled coach and sour-puss general manager.

But the real truth of the matter is that the Raiders stink. (Heck, they couldn’t even win at home against Kansas City.)

So if the Chargers look like a powerhouse this week, just remember they’re playing the Raiders.

If they add to their string of five losses in six games, look for management to sign Turner to a new contract.



Chargers 21, Raiders 17

Monday, December 1, 2008

Chargers' Norv Turner: It's time to go!

Let’s not even start out by saying that Norv Turner should be fired as head coach of the Chargers.

That’s so obvious … well; I guess we have to say it.

The only hope for Charger fans is that the team follows San Diego State’s lead.

Aztec coach Chuck Long was told he would be back for 2009 … but he’s gone.

We can only wish the Chargers do the same with their vote of confidence for Turner.

Owner Dean Spanos should have learned the first time.

When coach Bobby Ross and general manager Bobby Beathard were at odds, he fired the coach after the 1996 season.

Ten years later, he did the same thing when coach Marty Schottenheimer and general manager A.J. Smith were at odds. (Coach goes; GM stays.)

By 1998, the Chargers were in shambles. Same thing; 10 years later.

This year’s team has an offense that has turned offensive.

The Chargers could muster only 201 yards in Sunday’s 22-16 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, with their longest (and only) touchdown drive covering 20 yards.

If Turner is an offensive genius, he’s doing a good job of hiding it.

And speaking of hiding, that’s exactly what the Charger brass should do if it brings back Turner and his history of not making the playoffs for another season.