Knocked Down, It Gets To Wearing Thin

The last time I traveled to New Jersey to see the Chargers face the Jets was 1994.  They were playing to clinch the AFC West after being unable to close it out on Monday Night against the Traitors.  I’m sure you remember, FAITHFUL READER.  That was the only time that season that the Bolts lost in the powder blues.  I also went to the games against the Jets in 1990 and 1991, which were blowouts for both teams.  Of course, I also went to the snowball game in 1995 against the Giants and the 2009 comeback game.  That second game sparked what looked like a strong run to the playoffs.  Of course, that’s also what caused Dean Spanos to give Norval his extension.  I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll never forget listening to Kevin Acee on The Darren Smith show during the Bolts’ bye before their playoff game.  Darren wondered aloud “Now that they’ve signed Norv, what if by some fluke the Chargers choke in the playoffs?”

It’s like that scene in the movie Fanboys about the quest to see the Star Wars prequel.  After the characters finally get to see The Phantom Menace, one of them says “Guys, what if the movie sucks?”

Well, kids, the movie did suck and it hasn’t stopped sucking since.  Each year since we’ve been promised that the problems have been fixed.  We’ve been assured that those responsible have been disposed of.  Steve Crosby and Greg Manusky are gone.  Players who either cost too much to retain, have underperformed or both are no longer with us.  Yet all the principals still remain.

Last year, Antonio Gates said that the Chargers would once again be a “blue collar team?”  Remember that?  Before this season Gates mentioned that the Bolts were now free of prima donnas.  Most people assumed he was talking about Vincent Jackson.  Now the universally accepted explanation for the team’s drop from mediocrity to shittyness is that AJ has let too much talent go.  I know Sproles took a pay cut with the Saints, but Jackson’s contract with the Tampa didn’t seem like something it would have been wise to match.  I Tweeted on the Panthers’ first drive that I hoped Mike Tolbert didn’t do his stupid dance on us and he did it twice.  Then, after the game, he said that he would have been willing to have stayed in San Diego but the team never called his agent back.

Now, Ron Rivera’s being quoted as saying the Jets “got into the Chargers’ heads" for the aforementioned playoff game.  Rex Ryan commended Norv’s resume this week, saying it was “more impressive than mine.”  It sounds like Norval might join Brain Schottenheimer, Tomlinson and Cromartie as castoffs that the Jets pick up from us.  I have finally come to believe that both Norv and AJ will really get the ax.  However, I still fear that Philip Rivers will never be right again.  Of course, there are many who still claim that the lack of weapons around him and the junkyard line in front of him is the real issue.  But, as I've been saying all along, these problems existed before Sproles and Jackson left.  They were there when the line could still block, too.  They've been exacerbated over the last two seasons, but Rivers' bad habits were there there in 2010.

The U-T ran this piece on Rivers, which you've probably already seen.  I don't think Rivers was overrated.  He was more clutch in the fourth quarter than Drew Brees was during his time in San Diego.  The turnovers were nowhere near the issue they've been over the last two seasons.  But I can't bear to watch him fumble right now.  He still slides four yards before anyone touches him and fires screen passes like he's trying to get it through a tire swing. 

If you believe what Kevin Acee writes, there will be more of a talent drain next season.  He suggests that Phillips won't get a new deal.  Like Vincent Jackson, he's a guy that comes off a little selfish on the field.  He hasn't done enough while he's been a Charger, but if the new GM doesn't replace his production we could sink even further.  Somehow both Acee and Michael Gehlken believe that Antoine Cason deserves another season.  I Tweeted both of them that I don't give a shit what the numbers say.  There is no way he should be back. 

It's sad that as bad as the Jets have been, they at least can claim that their best players on both offense and defense missed most of the season.  The Bolts are 0-2 to Mark Sanchez, so maybe I should be happy that McElroy is starting.  Of course, we are also 2-0 to Eli Manning.  You can see why I'm not a real big numbers guy.

Even though Mathews is clearly flawed, I still don't believe Norv ever really tried to establish a running game with this team.  It will be interesting to see what a new coach does.  I heard RIch Gannon on Sirius this week discussing both Sanchez and Rivers.  He made the point that Norv never really disciplined Rivers about his ball security, poor footwork and throws off the back foot.  I absolutely agree.  This is the second straight season that Rivers has been a turnover machine.  His body won't be any younger next season, so even if he starts really focusing on holding onto the ball his body may not got along.

As for the Sunday's game, I also heard Pat Kirwin describe the ornery crowd which will barely fill half the stadium.  "The ones that are there, won't be able to drive home.  That's how angry they'll be and you know what they'll be up to."  I don't see myself really partying on Sunday.  When it comes to this team, there's not much to party about.  It's sad that football season is coming to an end.  I'm not talking about this season, mind you.  I can't wait for this disaster to be over.  However, I'll miss the shared community of misery that's developed here within The Halls Of Justice.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to The Legion Of The Lightning Bolt.  There are still a few JIC decals left.  So if you don't get what you want this year, give me a shout out and I'll try to get one out to you.

Yours In Justice,



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.