And It Don’t Matter Just What You Say, Are You Tough Enough To Play The Game They Play? Or Will You Just Do Your Time And Fade Away?

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The last time the Chargers played Dallas in the regular season, it looked like we were on the verge of finally doing something in the playoffs.  That was the game where Brandon Siler smacked the shit out of Tony Romo, the Chargers had a goal-line stand, Rivers led the team on a go-ahead TD drive in the 4th, and the Bolts ran just enough to bleed the clock in the end.  In other words, they did every thing that they couldn't do last Sunday.  Check that, Rivers did lead the team to what would have been a 4-point win if our defense wasn't so shitty.  I didn't fault McCoy for not throwing on 3rd and 9 because you should be able to stop Jake Locker from driving 94 yards with no timeouts.  Sure, Gilchrist let the ball get dislodged and no it wasn't like Marlon McCree not being smart enough to go to the ground.  What was so crazy about the Titans' last drive was that they could have won the game the play before the touchdown.  If the ball hadn't been overthrown, they might very well have already scored.  We fault Pagano for his schemes, but he did bring heat on the last play.  I know Rodney Harrison was ranting about the team not playing a cover two.  Eric Weddle is right now in the situation Harrison was in in San Diego.  He's surrounded by shit players, so he's being asked to clean up a lot of the mess.  Remember when Rodney actually lost us a game in Arrowhead with a late hit?  It was the same year he was called for that bullshit call on Jerry Rice in Oakland.  Yeah, that was a Jim Trotter article from when he was with the U-T.  He wrote this bit for this week which was sadly spot on.  It was about a year ago that Trotter went down to New Orleans to profile Rivers.  He didn't yet have a slant for the piece, but after the game the focus of  the article was PR's inability to lead a game-winning drive.  Of course, one week after he did so, the defense let him down.  My biggest fear is that Rivers will finally stop turning over the ball only to have the ship spring another leak.

The offensive line will probably be without Bee Sting Clary and King Dunlap.  Since I can only point to a handful of times these guys have been beat all year, I'd have to say that they've played far better than expected.  In typical Charger fashion, they were both fined after the game in which they were injured for plays that weren't even flagged at the time.  Only the Chargers, right?

A lot of people have asked me if I really thought this team would make the playoffs going into the season?  I have to believe that.  I'm not tuning in for the future of the franchise right now.  I still hold out hope for a 9-7 season and a WildCard berth.  Of course, it's pretty clear that we are thin on talent and depth.  I'm not sure who to blame.  I know the local media (specifically Acee) suggests that Telesco privately knows that this team will take time to build.  So does that mean that Norv and Shaun Phillips were right to say that we were years away?  Are we to blame AJ Smith's last-gasp attempt to finally sign free agents?  Gaither and Meachem are gone, Johnson is just showing some signs, and McClain is rarely on the field.

As Jeff Young pointed out in the comments section this week, Liuget and Reyes have really looked ordinary thus far.  It's great to beat up on Greg McElroy when the season doesn't matter.  We need these guys to step up NOW.  McCoy took the blame for not having Butler ready to go on Sunday.  He sure could have been used out there.  The YAC Pack was in full effect.  I have no idea if Te'o being out there will matter, just as I don't know if it matters where I place the apostrophe in his name.  Thus far, he hasn't made me think that his absence means anything.  Hopefully, that will change on Sunday.

But I also ended last week's post by saying that I was psyched for the game at Tennessee.  I wrote that I hoped the Chargers didn't make me regret writing that.  Well, they did.  I was getting gas with my son at the BP near my house only to see Butler surrender that TD on an NFL Network ad.  I can't let this team ruin my weekend again, can I?  Even loyal Justice Leaguers who write in every week with  "I've had it" can't really mean it deep down or else why would they be writing?

I see that the Chargers signed an offensive lineman today and let Fozzy Whitaker go.  That's too bad, I liked the guy.  Nevertheless, we can't let Rivers get knocked around all over the field tomorrow.  They also worked out David Nelson, not of the New Riders of the Purple Sage but formerly of the Buffalo Bills.  Tutu was active last week but didn't play a snap.  Speaking of wide receivers, I finid it interesting that people felt Keenan Allen's pick cost the team a touchdown.  If you watch the play, I'd say he caused the touchdown.  Royal wouldn't have been that open if not for the pick.  It wasn't like some penalty away from the action cost us a score.

But the Chargers let one get away, so I guess it's natural to look at where they fucked up.  McCoy could have gone on 4th on that second drive, but it's not as if any lead would be safe with that defense.  I didn't know they were THAT bad until the final gun sounded, but the season opener was all the reminding I needed to know that the Chargers can always piss it away.  Will that ever change?  I wish I knew. 

Trotter's MMQB piece references the last time Dallas was in San Diego for the regular season.  We fell behind to fucking Bledsoe and Keyshawn, but actually had a shot to win in the end.  But Marty called four straight passes on the goal line and not one of them was to LT.  Martyball meant stubbornness but not always on the ground.  That was also the game in which AJ suspended Gates.  With a 9-7 record, you could say that the 2005 team missed the playoffs due to our GM's pigheadedness but you and I both know that the season might not have unfolded in the same way if we had won that first game.

Of course, the Miami game that really ended that season has kept me from seeing a home game since.  I'm sure I'll be back, but this team is lucky that I drag my ass out for road games.  When I heard that Paul Oliver had killed himself, the only real surprise was that he wasn't a part of the 1994 team.  I'm not trying to be callous or even equate football to life and death matters.  But the Chargers have had far more than their share of the latter.

Oliver's most memorable play with the Bolts was picking off Matt Schaub in 2010 to ice the game.  After review, the interception kept the Chargers' playoff hopes alive before the fucked themselves again versus Oakland and Cincy.

The most obvious things to look for tomorrow is whether our secondary can improve at all and if the patchwork line can protect Rivers.  Derek Cox is getting an awful lot of money to be this bad.  But besides that, I'm interested to see if this team can run the ball.  On that first drive (and before they were stopped on the second), the Chargers mixed in the ground game perfectly.  Mathews' inability to get one yard on 3rd must have angered McCoy even more than us since he wasn't really used throughout the day.  Yes, he did get some carries at the end and the pitch play was a good call even though Rivers looked like he couldn't get the ball out of his own hands.

As for Rivers' penalty, I don't think it's that big a deal except for the fact that it was clearly the right call.  As I said on opening night, I don't know why we have to be throwing on 1st and goal from the five.  The pick set us back even without Rivers' tantrum.  Anyway, a win tomorrow and I will stop dwelling on last week.  A loss at home and the fans will stay away from that stadium even with a Monday Night game vs the Colts looming.  Even I won't be able to convince myself that we're coming back from 1-3.  This ain't 2007.  Any'way, I'll talk to you during the game.  Let's try and not fuck this one up.





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.