Get Back Home Where You Belong And Don’t You Run Off No More

Ah, home, sweet home.  I wasn’t making a Motley Crue reference.  It just feels good to be here within the Halls Of Justice.  My article on Junior was pretty well-received, as you can see from the Tweet to the right.  It seemed like my tribute to LaDainian also struck a chord, although in a far different way.  However, it’s been almost since April that I got in front my keyboard for and old-school JIC entry.  I know there are mixed feelings about my involvement with Bleacher Report.  Rest assured, FAITHFUL READER, that I have many of those same feelings myself.  However, I think the arrangement is a good thing and that it can develop into a better thing.  There are people out in cyberspace that think I’m just some guy who’s always bitching about Norv, AJ and Kaeding.  That’s why it’s so important to lure them over to the site to find out what being part of The Justice League is all about.  Get here any way you can.  It could be Twitter or the JIC Facebook page.  I mentioned on Twitter that Sarah and I went out to Friendly’s when she decided to try to get under my skin by telling me that the Chargers stink.  After she immediately knocked her bowl on the floor, I joked that her it jumped from the table in retribution. She actually laughed at that.  However, she does hear me yelling at the television every Sunday.  It’s a good thing she’ll be fast asleep when the season kicks off late in the evening of Opening Monday.


You can see from this picture that I visited Coney Island once again.  It was my first trip (second overall) since 2010 and it was for the same purpose as the last.  I went to see what is left of the Justice Is Coming House Band, who were a lot better than I expected from recent shows I’ve seen.  While enjoying a cold post-Cyclone beer in the lot, an older Deadhead spotted my Charger bottle koozie.  I actually bought it the last game I attended in San Diego, the disastrous 2005 game against the Dolphins.  

“Chargers, huh?  So what do you think of your team this year?”

It turns out that he wasn’t giving me shit, which is what usually happens in these situations.  Yes, he was a Giants fan and he had every reason to boast.  But he really just wanted to get a fan’s slant on this team of ours.  I think the biggest thing that distinguishes a fan who has never lived in the city where his or her team plays is that it’s something they chose for themselves.  It’s not as if my dad was a Bolthead and it was passed down or that it’s my local squad.  I certainly didn’t choose the disappointment of the last eight seasons, but I did select this maddening club to follow.

What do I think of our team?  They need to grow some balls.  My desire to see Norv axed is well-documented, but more for some evidence of accountability than due his actual influence from the sideline.  Would it take ANOTHER failed season for us to get rid of him?  That’s what we are supposed to believe, but I’m not buying it.  I also can’t root for that outcome, despite my wife’s recommendation.  But since my rooting has never resulted in a Super Bowl championship, maybe rooting for losses would be a better idea.

In fact, my daughter and I were throwing around a Nerf football today (her idea) when she told me that when she believes that she can do something, it often doesn’t happen.  However, when she doubts herself, she is able to rise to the occassion.  Maybe she’ll turn out to be a Charger fan after all.

I read in the Union-Tribune today that Norval is instilling a sense of “urgency.”  I certainly fucking hope so.  Of course, why would the players feel any urgency when management has delivered the message that failure is acceptable?  Once again, for those of you who are just joining us, I know that all but one team wins the Super Bowl each year.  But the Chargers have imploded (with the exception being 2007 and possibily 2008) before they could lose to an opponent in every season since 2004.  Yes, that span includes two coaches.  After Norv’s first year, I had to believe that his approach was fostering the poise the team lacked under Marty in crunch time come January.  I say that I had to because results speak for themselves.  The same could have been said about the players AJ had drafted Rivers, Sproles, Jackson and signed or traded for (Naanee, Volek, Chambers).  These guys were all coming up big in crucial postseason spots.  But the same standard has to be used now.  Guys haven’t gotten it done and I’m not just talking about the players.  AJ and Norv seem to be even less accountable than the guys on the team.  There is no way you can tell me that a perception doesn’t reach the players.  Maybe it’s living here in New York all my life where every locker room utterance seems to leak out, but I am sure that players see Steve(s) Crosby and Manusky get canned when the responsibilities for the last two seasons would seem to reach even higher up.  Sadly, the blame for the last playoff implosion didn’t go to the coach or the kicker since both are still with us.  Was retaining Norv a financial move, since Spanos gave him that deal at the end of the regular season?  Maybe, but no one would come out and tell us if it was.

As for Tweety, the U-T Male Sack says that the team will keep him and Novak until they make a final decision.  Sadly, Novak missed some big kicks last season, so I can’t put my faith in him, either.  But this isn’t communist Russia where we only get two or fewer choices.  How about a third option?  Is Jose Cortez still floating around?  Where’s the next Garrett Hartley?  Vince Abbott or Rolf Mojsiejenko?  Yeah, I went there.

At least Luis Castillo was finally let go.  His only strong game over the last four seasons he was in San Diego was one I attended–November 8, 2009 against the Giants.  But that guy spent more time on his back than…(insert the name of any slut you know here).

Castillo’s release was obviously in order to make room for Aubrayo Franklin.  I was really guessing when I wrote at Bleacher Report that the Bolts should bring him in for training camp.  He seems like he was good once, so hopefully he’s got something left.  The Bolts need guys who can win their individual battles at the line of scrimmage.  Liuget didn’t exactly distinguish himself last year and I don’t know much about Kendall Reyes.  He played in Connecticut, which is where Jacques Cesaire played.  JC outperformed Castillo (except for market purposes) for far less money.

Even with Meachem and Royal on offense, it’s really the defense that I’m most concerned about.  I think Rivers will actually benefit from Jackson being gone.  He’ll distribute the ball more and neither of the new guys will “not expect” a bomb at home against Oakland.  Of course, I hope we aren’t forced into a Hail Mary again because we can’t stop Carson Palmer, either.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, the defense.  Donald Butler showed flashes last season of why AJ thought so highly of him before his injury.  But will he be a star, like the guys we could have drafted instead of Larry English?  Jonas Mouton similarly sat out last year and will have a shot to prove his second pick status from a year ago.  I love Antonio Garay, but he’s got his limits as well.  Like the Bolts themselves, he plays big but can’t always keep up when the competition gets tougher.  This team needs grow some balls, I know I already said that.  That has to begin on defense.  I know there aren’t too many defensive linemen that don’t need to be rotated on and off the field.  But I still wonder if guys like Martin and Thomas are good enough.  Clearly, I feel that way about a lot of our guys.

On offense, I believe Antonio Gates when he says that he’s ready to go.  The guy has been forced to learn more about his body over the last two seasons than I’m sure he ever wanted to.  I already mentioned that I think the receivers will be solid.  I can’t say I’m sold that Floyd can make it through an entire year without get hurt, however.  Ryan Mathews knows that this is his sink or swim season.  I truly believe he’ll step up.  As for Rivers, I can’t imagine him having a worse season than last year.  Of course, as a Charger fan, I should never say shit like that.  There have been more than a few critics that have publicly wondered if Rivers will ever take that next step as his 2004 draftmates have.  This piece is only the most recent.  Acee’s replacement at the U-T took issue with this piece and claims that Rivers’ velocity is fine.  He also intimated that the Bolts will sign a veteran cornerback imminently, which made me happy.  As for Rivers, I still believe he’s the guy.  I took a lot of shit for suggesting that he should sit at times last season.  I didn’t think he needed a kick in the ass, though.  His performance was so bad that it was literally costing us a shot at wins.  But like the Bolts themselves, he turned it on except in the X-mas game that actually would have made a difference. 

But I do think Rivers will rebound.  I don’t know if that was clear from this piece.  By the way, I gave that Giants fan a far more condensed version than my July take on the Chargers than I just gave you.  But you didn’t stop by for succinctness and brevity, did you?  I didn’t think so.  Besides being able to curse freely, it’s nice to be back here with you once again.  This post is dedicated to the late Sherman Hemsley.  It’s also National Tequila Day.  I’m off for a glass of this beverage right here. Talk to you soon.


About Ross Warner

ROSS WARNER is a forty-five year old freelancer whose credits include Sports Illustrated OnLine and Blitz as well as numerous articles on his favorite band, the Grateful Dead. Blah, Blah, Blah. Yeah, I was on WNEW FM the morning after the Chargers made the Super Bowl. Having returned from Pittsburgh only hours before, there I was at half-court at Madison Square Garden in my #12 jersey and wiping my sweat with a "Terrible Towel." When asked about the future for the newly-crowned AFC Champs, I simply uttered "justice is coming." Like so many others, I first took notice of the Chargers during the "Air Coryell" period of the late 1970s. But as Dan Fouts gave way to Ed Luther, Mark Hermann, Babe Laufenberg, Jim McMahon, David Archer, Mark Vlasic, Billy Joe Tolliver and John Freisz my fanaticism turned to obsession. When Stan Humphries resurrected the franchise in 1992, I began calling the Chargers organization to share my plan to get the team into the Super Bowl. This began the stormy rapport with the Chargers' Public Relations staff which reached a boiling point at a 1996 "team spirit" luncheon when I demanded that guard Eric Moten explain his propensity for holding penalties. It was then I realized I needed my own forum. Founded in 1995, Justice Is Coming is precisely that. To decide whether this site is for you, ask yourself these questions: Do you think of Johnny Unitas as an ex-Charger? Are your three children named JJ, Kellen and Wes, with one of them being a girl? Do you think that Rolf Benirschke got a raw deal on the daytime "Wheel of Fortune?" Can you remember where you were on December 3, 1984 when Bobby Duckworth fumbled the ball attempting to spike it on "Monday Night Football?" Does Al Davis, a dark alley and a lead pipe mean anything to you? If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, then you, too, believe that Justice Is Coming. This is a weekly look at the San Diego Chargers through the eyes of someone who spends most of his time thinking about the Bolts so you don't have to. But being a Chargers fan is not an obligation, although it sometimes feels like it. So I offer you this "alternative perspective." All the football, film and music collides in the centrifuge that is my brain and this newsletter is the result.