That line comes from the NBC series The Playboy Club, which only lasted three episodes. But it truly sums up the Chargers’ situation at this point. Jacksonville sucks and has a ton of injuries, but it sure was nice to see the Bolts play a complete game for the first time all season. After that positivity faded, did a part of me feel regretful that it was such a remote possibility that this season would be extended beyond January 1? Sure, it’s the nature of being a fan. When everyone is looking towards the postseason, it sucks to feel left out. But the Bolts have brought this upon themselves. If the Denver game was the loss that really sealed this team’s fate, it’s sadly appropriate. That was the game that should tell everyone why Norv needs to go. I don’t care how afraid he was of Rivers getting sacked. You don’t let the clock run out in regulation when you have a chance to win and you don’t back into a 50 plus-yard field goal.
The suggestion that if somehow the Chargers made it in that he would keep his job is ridiculous. I know it most likely won’t happen, but that’s not the point. Sure, the Chargers would need to beat Baltimore, Detroit and Oakland in succession. But them making it in would now rely on not one, but two, teams collapsing. How does that reflect favorably on Norv? The fans have had enough. It’s too late to convince us that we could EVER win a Super Bowl with Norv Turner. People have accused San Diego’s fans and media of not being critical and demanding enough. That’s why I am proud of the way people are standing up for themselves. As I saw on one of the U-T board posts, how can AJ Smith preach his bottom line “Charger one year at a time” shit and continue to fail as a General Manager? That doesn’t mean that he hasn’t drafted talent. But he hired Norv and has staked his reputation on guys like Davis and English. I don’t doubt that some of his picks would do better on another team, but that just shows that the coach he hired doesn’t do a good enough job of maximizing the talent he’s got.
Lorenzo Neal, who has made no secret of his disdain for Norval, was on the radio this week saying that guys were allowed to be late to meetings all the time. AJ can demand “character” guys, but what are the expectations on the field? Obviously, players haven’t been so afraid of AJ not to get into trouble. At the start of last season, Steelers fans were demanding that Dan Rooney trade their embattled QB. I guess you can do that when you have 2 rings with him. One of the few things Jim Trotter has said this year is that the Chargers don’t have enough nasty players on the field. I am not suggesting that guys don’t have to behave responsibly off it, but this business model ain’t working. AJ claims to model himself after New England and Philadelphia, but those organizations have always looked for guys who could be molded into winners. They have signed and drafted some guys with question marks and some of them have failed. But they always went after guys who could make an impact. Yes, I am aware that we are a lot closer to Philly than New England. But at least they made it recently.
This is why AJ and Norv both have to go. If AJ Smith was honestly assessing his own performance as he claimed he does the players’ he’d fire himself. He said he needed to do a better job of drafting after the Chargers were lucky to get into the playoffs with an 8-8 record and knock off a team that had 5 more regular season wins than they did. Little did they know, the Colts were the only team we could beat consistently in the postseason. Since 2008, AJ hasn’t made good on his promise. English is a bust, especially considering who else was “on the board.” Mathews may still be a consistent star, but isn’t there yet. Butler looks good, but the jury’s still out on Gilchrist and Liuget.
People can say that Dean Spanos will be taking a risk if he fires AJ, but it’s the time for him to go. There needs to be a change in culture and approach with the Chargers. Being “good” can’t be good enough anymore. The same reasons that Marty was fired are the reasons that Norv (and the man who hired and continually defended him) needs to go. What’s so fucked up is that Norv got his extension AFTER THE PLAYOFF LOSS TO THE JETS. To make matters worse, there was still money left on his old deal. I feel compelled to once again mention to those that claim that the late John Butler had all the success and that AJ has simply rode his coattails that many of the same questions we have about AJ’s ego were asked about Butler. Bobby Beathard may have been the guy who drafted Mikhael Ricks and Bryan Still, but he was also the guy who made the Chargers relevant in 1990 and brought Stan Humphries to the Bolts when some people thought Friesz was the answer. I remember being in a bar near the old Kezar Stadium in December of 1993. I was watching us play Kansas City and there were a lot of Niner fans there rooting for their old QB, Joe Montana. I was pissed Humphries had gotten hurt because I believed Friesz was just good enough to make people believe he might be the answer, but ultimately wasn’t good enough to actually be it.
I’ve evoked Bobby Ross’ name a lot here lately. Coming to the NFL directly from college, he spoke a lot of building a “program” with the Chargers. But when the NFL adopted free agency and the salary cap in 1993, it became increasingly more difficult to that. When Anthony Miller and Gary Plummer were allowed to leave and were replaced by Tony Martin, Dwayne Harper, Reuben Davis, Dennis Gibson, Shawn Lee and Mark Seay I was livid. I called the front office (only speaking with the Chargers’ receptionist Georgette Rogers, who still holds that position) weekly demanding to speak to someone in personnel. Actually, I did get to someone in marketing and I told them that we were throwing the season away. That team developed chemistry that season and every one of those guys made big plays in big spots. We all know how that season and that era ended, but the commonly held belief that the Beathard/Ross power struggle ruined the Chargers because the Spanoses backed the wrong guy is a massive oversimplification. I know I’ve said it before, but Bobby Ross had his own problems keeping the 1995 team focused. The decision to release Natrone Means looked pretty bad when he led the Jags in two upsets at Buffalo and Denver. That move was put on Beathard as well. Natrone did come back, only to have his big 1998 game in the rain at Arrowhead forgotten once Ryan Leaf unloaded on Jay Posner.
I know that you don’t need a Chargers history lesson, FAITHFUL READER. However, this season stopped being about the regular season games contained in it once this losing streak spiraled out of control. Last year, we wondered if the Chargers could catch KC. The Chargers answered our questions by losing in Cincy. I have a feeling that the Chargers will resolve the mess they’ve put themselves into on their own. In other words, I don’t forsee them “running the table” and not making the postseason. It’s just a feeling that one way or another, the Chargers will once again cause themselves to succeed or fail. I would understand the Spanos’ using the team’s performance over the last four games more than allowing what other teams do to decide the coach’s fate. But the fans won’t be happy unless Norv (and probably AJ) goes regardless. Dean Spanos has to know that. The fact that Sunday’s game is blacked out speaks volumes.
I just heard to Rivers’ weekly phone-in spot on XX1090, which you can listen to here. He’s made so many mistakes this season, but I still can’t help but love the guy. I heard a reporter from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on the radio this week to address the Cowher rumors and he said that The Chin (my wife thinks he looks like the lion from that old Bugs Bunny short) wanted Rivers instead of Roethlisberger. I still believe that Rivers would have won a ring elsewhere by now. That’s why Norv has to go. Philip likes him, but sometimes you like the substitute teacher instead of the asshole who actually gets you to succeed. We need that asshole.
Under different circumstances, I might talk about my 4 years spent at the University Of Rochester during the Bills’ AFC dominance. I could talk about how I watched the Chargers start Moses Moreno, only to see Doug Flutie come in and lead the Bills to victory. In 2002, I saw (not well, I heavily inbibed that day) Steve Christie hit a 60-yard field goal to tie the game late. The Chargers, of course, still lost on missed the playoffs after their 6-1 start. I could regale you with the story of how I saw Ryan Leaf’s first game against Buffalo in 1998 and how a late pass interference penalty almost blew the game. We remember the Chargers beating the Bills in Buffalo in 2006, but showing some cracks late in the game. Remember when McCree got flagged for unraveling a bit against his former team in Mile High? Talk about foreshadowing…I read somewhere recently that McCree actually thought he could score before Troy Brown stripped the ball from him. Anyway, they didn’t deserve to win that game beyond that one play regardless. They didn’t deserve to win their other two “one and dones” to teams that lost the following week either. Sadly, they don’t deserve to be anywhere but where they are right now. Where is that? I have no fucking idea.
I would remiss if I didn’t dedicate this issue of JIC to the late Lew Bush. When he was still Lewis Bush, he signed my photo the night before the Super Bowl in Miami. I once ate at his barbecue joint and sadly still remember his not being able to hold onto a deflected pass that would have sealed a win on Monday Night Football in 1995 when Vanover ran back a kick for a touchdown and began crying. In true Charger fashion, Vanover later played for us and Bush for KC. It really is crazy that 7 games from our most successful team to date have passed too soon. I don’t believe the Chargers are cursed on the field, but they have a pretty bad record off it as well.
There you have it. I’ll still be watching on Sunday. If you’re in San Diego and can’t see the game, I am sure my increasingly angry Tweets will keep you updated. At least one of my all-time favorite bands, the Faces, were voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this week. Yes, there was a time when Rod Stewart wasn’t a douche. Now, if they would only vote Warren Zevon in. Anyway, I have left some Faces video clips for you to check out. Talk to you Sunday,