Straight From The Heart, Why Can’t This Be Done?

rivers-turner-110111Yeah, I’m referencing Van Hagar.  It’s nothing compared to the band with Diamond Dave, buttThey have their place–sort of like Survivor.  I won’t discuss Monday’s game, although I will end of watching.  Do I think that the Chargers could pull out a miracle and make the playoffs?  I don’t think it matters at this point.  When the Chargers were 4-8 in 2008, I wondered aloud whether I even wanted that team to extend their season.  They were not playing like it.  As it turned out, making the playoffs turned out to be a curse rather than a blessing.  When the Chargers lost to the Broncos on Monday Night football in 2009, I wondered aloud (meaning on this site) whether they were underachieving or just not that talented.  Nick Hardwick had been injured and Jamal Williams had played his last game in San Diego.

As you recall, FAITHFUL READER, the Bolts had actually played their best game to date on that night.  But Antonio Gates had already feared that with Denver being 6-0, the Bolts could go into a tailspin.  The Chargers pushed, but Denver pushed back and Tony Scheffler taunted the Bolts en route to a victory.  With his appearance in the booth, fans salivated over Jon Gruden, who had said some wonderful things about Philip Rivers.  I think they forgot that he says positive things about every quarterback.

Well, you know what happened next.  During the bye week (and a late night of partying before their next game in Arrowhead), we stewed over the decline of the Chargers.  During the 11-game win streak that followed, we never really found out if the team was good or not.  They pulled out a win in New Jersey, surged and then played prevent against Philly, won at Dallas and kicked a late (gasp) field goal to beat Cincy.  But despite a nice LT run against the Eagles on the Sunday he announced he was going to have a baby and some clock killing runs at Dallas, the ground game was still very weak.  Guys like Dobbins, Siler and Burnett played better than expected and Philip Rivers played out of his mind.  But by the half of their first playoff game, it was obvious that the Chargers had returned to the stupidity of their ’04 and ’06 postseason ways.  Those who have such romanticized view of Marty Schottenheimer should remember that he coached those first two teams.  14-2 should be remembered more as 14-3, as Colby Underwood put it.  The lack of poise under pressure and good decision making was a hallmark of many of Marty’s teams come playoff time.

That first year under Norv, I remember thinking a lot about the team from the year before.  I really could see during the games against Tennessee and Indianapolis that the 2006 team was not built to win it all.  Talented?  Sure.  The “most talented?”  Again, that qualifier is used because the Chargers never even went to the Super Bowl.  Why didn’t that happen?  Due to their own physical breakdowns.  That is now the responsibility of two coaches.

This shitty economy has proven one thing.  The consumer may be struggling more than ever but they do have power over those from which they buy goods and services.  We can still tell those that want our business that we won’t buy a shitty product.  AJ’s “act” worked fine when we were winning with his acquisitions, draft picks and coaches.  Now, it’s a reason to give him even less slack.  You can’t act like Bill Belichick without even reaching a Super Bowl.  Bernie Wilson and Jay Paris were both on the radio this week saying that they never thought that Charger fans would rise up as they have.  I, for one, couldn’t be prouder.  Wilson said that he thought the laid-back fan base was just a bunch of lemmings that wanted to party and would buy season tickets no matter what.  He now knows otherwise.

It’s no secret that the most recent playoff loss changed something in me.  Sure, I’m older and now have 2 kids.  But it was also the result of the sad knowledge that the Chargers hadn’t learned their lesson.  They weren’t going to even give themselves the chance to get to the Super Bowl.  In true ironic fashion, the one team that seemed ready to was too banged up to get past a previously undefeated opponent.  But the past only matters right now because it appears that it is all we have.  The one thing we can all agree on is that the AJ/Norv combo has got to go.  We can sit and analyze their demeanor, decisions and history at another date.  We’ll have all offseason for that.

I don’t  know exactly what the relationship is between coaching and the team’s performance.  I do know that you can say all the right things (see Schottenheimer, Marty), but if the team doesn’t do it you can’t be considered a good coach.  You can be a genius and still a shitty teacher if the students don’t learn.  Sure, I didn’t want Norv Turner.  But that was as much due to his Milquetoast persona as his lack of success as a head coach.  Rich Kotite was considered a good coach for how much he got out of his players in Philly.  We know what happened after he came to the Jets.  Andy Reid, Jeff Fisher, Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden have their critics.  In most cases, those guys had combustible situations at quarterback.  Chucky just had Keyshawn.  I always loved Bobby Ross because it was clear he gave a shit.  He also never shirked the responsibility for a loss.  Many Marty lovers forget that he was just quick to put the blame on someone else as AJ is.  Again, I only bring up Marty because so many people are mentioning that Norv Turner inherited a 14-2 team that Schottenheimer “built.”  Honestly, AJ and John Butler deserve credit for that.  May he rest in peace, but Butler was a stubborn guy as well.  His ego was also called into question on more than a few occassions.  Was he always thinking about the team first?  We weren’t always so sure.  I posted on Twitter “wonder why no NFL team wanted Marty after he was fired?” and got a response of “you’re exactly right.”  That never happens in life.  Speaking of Twitter, I am sure you’ve seen Shaun Phillips’ crusade to alienate every Charger fan alive.  Justice Godfather Daniel Chang, who sent me this screenshot, reminded me that Phillips used to date the ugliest Kardashian before Lemar Odom.  Again, results are what I care the most about for this team.  But when you aren’t getting results, you aren’t helping yourself when you do stuff like this.  The same goes for AJ himself or his nemesis Vincent Jackson.  Rivers has been as stand up as they come, but he’s been dogshit on the field.  It’s a credit to his heart that he might be playing through an injury, but it hasn’t helped us one bit.  You can decide for yourself how many games he’s lost for the Chargers this year.  I am referring to games beyond the fumble in Kansas City.

I hate seeing this team lose each week, but I would hate more the same sense of complacency from the top dooming us for years to come.  Does Dean Spanos have the balls to BOLT UP and give AJ the ax?  I think he does because The Legion is calling for his head.  We’re not getting closer to a Lombardi, quite the opposite actually.  We can sit here and look at Brees, Sproles, LT or Cro and how their skill sets were used elsewhere.  No, I am not suggesting that we should have kept those last two.  But it seemed like they were used far more intelligently by their next GM and coach.  As for Brees, he clearly went to a perfect situation in New Orleans.  This is looking at it now, obviouisly.  The offense that Sean Payton built around him is very similar to the spread he ran at Purdue.  I still believe that if we had kept him that another team would have won a ring with Philip Rivers.  As I said last week, I will do my best not to obsess which former Chargers are playing for a title this year.  We need to be more concerned with the fact that no current ones are.  As for Sproles, he is also in an offense that appears to better utilize him.  I have no doubt that Payton is also a much better motivator than anyone we’ve had since Bobby Ross.  Before I go, let’s also not forget that the Spanos’ firing of Bobby Ross isn’t alone what left the Chargers in an almost 10-year playoff drought.  The late Chris Mims showing up to clean out his locker in a top hat and tails after our loss to the Colts was only the tip of the iceberg.  Old-school coaches don’t have an indefinite window to produce results.  The message falls on deaf ears after a while.  Bobby Ross, the man whom I told personally was the best coach we’ve ever had, wasn’t able to turn around the Lions or Scarlet Knights subsequently.  Why did I think the original Boss Ross was the best we’ve ever had?  He got us the closest a World Championship, obviously.

You can hear this week’s XX1090 clips here.  If they won’t stream for you, just right click and save.  You can hear the mp3s that way.  Enjoy your football-free Sunday.  Try not to let the Bolts ruin it when they aren’t even playing.  Don’t worry, FAITHFUL READER, I won’t ever be able not to be a Charger fan.  Just as you can be a patriotic American and question its government, you can be a Bolthead and hate what they are doing.  My daughter Sarah asked me why I was watching last week if I disiked the team so much.  They really haven’t played a complete game all year, but I couldn’t explain that to a five-year old girl.  “I’m a Charger fan,” I told her.

What did you expect?  I couldn’t very well show her this site, could I.  In closing, I would like to dedicate this week’s JIC to my beautiful wife, who turns 37 tomorrow.  She told me today that she found a bunch of my Charger ski hats in the closet today.  “Would you like me to poop in them,” she asked?  That’s one of the many reasons I love her.  Thanks for putting up with all my football and non-football related shit, sweetie.

Do they even know what Bolting Up even means?


PS  I can’t believe Novak missed 2 kicks after I put him in my “Rainbow Connection” parody.

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.