SDUT http://www.signonsandiego.com/sports/chargers/20051024-9999-1s24guestcol.html PHILADELPHIA – They are the defending AFC West champions. They have, arguably, the game's best running back and all-around player, a Pro Bowl quarterback and a tight end whose skills are best displayed when he's inside an opponent's 20-yard line. But the San Diego Chargers will always be a bit limited. Not because of their talent, but because of the talent of their coach, Marty Schottenheimer. The Eagles won a game yesterday afternoon in dramatic and spectacular fashion. The thing is, their offense was more unspectacular than it had been all season. Donovan McNabb had to throw the ball 54 times to accumulate 287 yards. Brian Westbrook ran the ball only 10 times, and the Eagles generated just 24 yards rushing all afternoon. So if you're Andy Reid, with your team plagued by injuries and attitude and not resembling the one you took to the Super Bowl last season, you sit inside the NovaCare Complex today relieved more than anything else. Mainly because your opponent yesterday was Schottenheimer. "Obviously, this is a very disappointing loss for us," Schottenheimer said after the Chargers fell 20-17 at Lincoln Financial Field. "We played an outstanding football team, but we would like to think we're a pretty good football team as well." The Chargers are a good football team. We've heard that their coach is pretty darn good, as well, although Schottenheimer has been in the NFL for decades without any championships to show for it. Normally, you wouldn't pick Week 7 of the season to gnaw away at any coach, particularly one as respected as Schottenheimer. But after witnessing what took place yesterday, after watching the Chargers blow a game that was clearly in their grasp, the shortcomings of their coach were obvious. Before their field goal unit allowed a block that was returned 65 yards for a touchdown by Matt Ware, before numerous Eagles were seen on the sidelines praying for divine intervention, the Chargers had spent the second half dominating, scoring 17 unanswered points, writing the Birds' epitaph for those of us who simply weren't willing to do so. But after the Eagles had closed to within 17-13, Schottenheimer's crew got the ball at the Eagles' 30 with 3 minutes, 29 seconds left. The ball was in the hands of trusted personnel. Yet, somehow, no one came through. Three times, Schottenheimer had the ball. Three times, he handed it to LaDainian Tomlinson. Schottenheimer's approach is to play it safe. Still, in all those years in Kansas City and Cleveland, he couldn't get to a Super Bowl. While the ball was going to Tomlinson, there was no attempt to get it to tight end Antonio Gates, despite the fact that he had caught an 8-yard touchdown pass at the beginning of the fourth quarter. There was no attempt to get the ball to wide receiver Keenan McCardell, who finished with five receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown. "We did a pretty good job of moving the ball against them," Schottenheimer said. "They weren't giving us a whole lot of time, as you well saw." Perhaps McCardell provided a better explanation. "That's just what we do," he said. "We run the football. That's what we do." Excuse me? Last I checked, you do whatever it takes to win a football game. Last I checked, Tomlinson was just as adroit at catching passes out of the backfield as he was running the football. By the end of the afternoon, the statistics showed the Chargers having rushed for a total of 21 yards. They showed Drew Brees having completed 23-of-40 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. But what they didn't show was what has plagued the Chargers: old-school ways that put Andy Reid to shame. Barring a personality transplant, the Chargers aren't going anywhere. When you start the season 0-2, change to a no-huddle offense for the next four weeks, then promptly go back to what didn't work the first two weeks, something is wrong with you. After being silenced in the first half, the Chargers figured out the Eagles' blitzes, mixed things up, got rid of the ball quicker, and generated 17 points. Yet, at crunch time, innovation went out the door in favor of caution. "This one's hard to swallow," fullback Lorenzo Neal said. "I can't even deny this one. Our defense gave us every chance to win this ballgame and we kept botching opportunities. Good teams find a way to win. We didn't." Why? Neal wouldn't say. Then again, he didn't need to.