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ANALYSIS: Time is now for Chargers General Manager

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Concudan, Jan 7, 2011.

  1. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    ANALYSIS: Time is now for Chargers General Manager - SignOnSanDiego.com

    A.J. Smith is on the clock.

    That's a draft analogy, for sure. And that fits, because, y’know, a team is built through the draft.

    But also, that clock has struck midnight. The Chargers' run of playoff appearances has been interrupted. In the fairytale, all ends well for Cinderella. In 2011, we might find out whether Smith and the Chargers live happily ever after.

    Win a lot of games and close to half of your draft picks over the past four years not being on the team anymore can be justified and patience can be given to Buster Davis and Larry English. Go to the playoffs year after year and, go ahead, pass on signing any impact free agents year after year.

    But 9-7? Two years after 8-8?

    Tick-tock.

    A convergence of events – not the least of which is the fact it has already started – make this the most important offseason for the Chargers in Smith’s eight-year reign as general manager.

    It affords the greatest opportunities, has the most uncertainty and features the most need.

    Smith was the architect of a monumental turnaround, from a team that went 39-73 and didn’t have a winning season in the seven years prior to him taking over and has gone 80-48 under his watch and not had a losing season since his first year in charge. He built almost from scratch the team that went to the AFC Championship after the 2007 season and retooled the version that went 13-3 in ‘09.

    Only New England (87), Indianapolis (87) and Pittsburgh (77) have more victories than the Chargers (76) since 2004.

    Of course, those three teams also have Super Bowl victories in that span (Pittsburgh has two). And Smith is also the architect of a team that as of this past Monday has gone two calendar years without a playoff victory.

    The 2010 Chargers did not even get in the tournament, didn’t give themselves a chance.



    Head coach Norv Turner and deposed special teams coordinator Steve Crosby (and every other coach) could have done a better job this past season.

    But those that argue the Chargers have regressed under Turner seem to forget that the Chargers of 2006 and ’07 were led by LaDainian Tomlinson, Shawne Merriman and Jamal Williams, all mostly healthy and in their primes, plus Antonio Gates and Philip Rivers.

    There are a couple great players (Gates, Rivers) on this version of the Chargers and a handful (maybe two handfuls) of very good players. And then, well, Smith has let his boss, his subordinates and his team’s fans down.

    Most-talented roster? That’s a stale assessment.

    Smith is absolutely capable of proving this a simple and wholly correctable downturn. (Remember, the Chargers followed 9-7 in 2005 with 14-2 in ’06 and 8-8 in 2008 with 13-3 in ‘09.)

    Anyone who thinks this team was that far from the playoffs and isn’t going back unless drastic changes are made lacks perspective.

    Teams miss the playoffs -- especially teams that never once put their top five receivers on the field at the same time, have their Hall of Fame tight end severely injured for half the season and their first-round pick out for essentially half the season, use 14 players at linebackers and use an NFL-record-tying 74 players in all.

    But teams also miss the playoffs when their general manager has perhaps missed as much as he’s hit in recent drafts and when his impact free agent signings are as rare as his smiles.

    Smith needs to find a way to sign or replace 21 players who are expected to be unrestricted free agents, including eight that played at least half of the offensive or defensive snaps. (That eight does not include offensive stars Darren Sproles or Vincent Jackson.)

    While operating under the specter of labor unrest -- requiring numerous contingency plans to account for when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached and what new/modified conditions it includes -- Smith could be required to make more changes to this roster than any offseason since after the awful 2003 campaign.

    He likely will need to do that by being more active in the unrestricted free agent market, depending on how many of his own free agents he loses.

    The Chargers did not sign an unrestricted free agent last spring, signed one the year before and none after the ’07 season. In his tenure, Smith has arguably gotten significant impact out of just safety Marlon McCree (2006) and linebacker Kevin Burnett (2009) among his unrestricted free agents signings. (To Smith’s credit, a number of his trades have provided strong returns, the Chargers have a number of undrafted free agents making significant contributions, and Smith has signed some key “street” free agents to shore up depth.)

    Finally, since Smith is as staunch a believer as there is in building through the draft, and since he will have five picks in the first three rounds, he needs to find some difference makers come April.

    Doing so would be a difference in itself.

    Whatever your assessment of Larry English (the team’s first-round pick in 2009) or Ryan Mathews (first-round, 2010), it is too soon to assess whether they were good investments. English, always seen as a project, was severely limited by a broken foot this season. And Mathews just finished an injury-marred rookie season.

    But 2007 first-rounder Buster Davis, who showed flashes of talent but was unable to show any more due to recurring injuries, is almost certainly finished as a Charger.

    Regardless of circumstances, the bottom line is that only cornerback Antoine Cason (2008) has made a significant contribution among Smith’s past four first-round picks.

    In all, 11 of Smith’s 26 picks since 2007 are not still with the team. Now, just one of those 11 (2007 third-round pick Anthony Waters) was selected before the fourth round. Successful teams generally don’t end up keeping many late-round picks. But, by way of comparison, the Patriots, 14-2 this season and favored to make it to their fourth Super Bowl since ’03, still retain 10 of their 22 picks made in the fourth round or later since 2007. The Colts, in the playoffs for the ninth straight year, still have 14 of the past 21 picks they’ve made after the fourth round.

    Smith isn’t speaking for public consumption these days, but rest assured he knows all of this. Be confident, too, he doesn’t necessarily agree with everything that’s been written here, but neither does he deny it all.

    The offseason is on Smith. It needs to be his time.
     
  2. Old School SD Fan

    Old School SD Fan Unhappy Camper

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    Very accurate. 2011-12 is a make or break season for Smith & Turner. For all of Smith's flaws, his stubborn inflexibility is the achilles heel. Take away the Pats FA signings over the years and then ask if their record would be close to what it has been. You have to at least minimally play the upper tier of the FA market if you want your best shot, you can't restrict yourself to the draft and the FA blue light specials if you want to maximize the percentages. Not saying you go Redskins, but one or two is a far cry from going nuts.
     
  3. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    I disagree. You look at 'upper teir' FA's and you see as many Hanesworths and Moss' as you do success. Big names do not always equate to big play. I appreciate Smith's ability to bring in cheaper, lesser known people who do a journeyman's job and help the unit as a whole.
     
  4. Old School SD Fan

    Old School SD Fan Unhappy Camper

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    You predictably disagree, because you always back every FO play. You're like an extreme liberal or conservative in politics, no shades of gray.
     
  5. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    I agree that we don't need the upper tier guys, we just need the 2nd level guys which AJ also ignores. Since 2004 when we signed Goff, Foley, and Godfrey, the only '2nd tier' type guy we signed was Kevin Burnett and he many have not even been a 2nd tier free agent with his crazy injury history, but he has played like one.

    In the last 6 years since 04, if we would have signed just one or 2 of the Foley, Godfrey, Goff type guys, things may have been a lot different
     
  6. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    So who was that Tight End filling in for Gates? Who was that ST guy we brought in to shore up special teams? Most of the signings go unnoticed here because they are not the bling bling (read Hanesworth) names.
     
  7. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    And you predictably go to the 'homer' card rather than articulate your position and try and converse about it. UT mentality lives in you Brah...
     
  8. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    Those are all scrap heap guys, every one. Not saying scrap heap guys can't bee good role players, but we need a legit starter once in a while from free agency. Every team has role players that they get off the scrap heap, all 32. Even the teams with the worst GM's, have descent scrap heap guys
     
  9. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    They were Free Agents, so you are saying that a Free Agent has to be a 'somebody' Free Agent for you to count them? Is that accurate?
     
  10. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    When am I going to learn to just ignore you? And when are you going to actually read what someone writes rather than inferring something different?

    I said we don't need the top tier free agents, but a few of the 2nd tier type guys are who we should be looking at. 2nd tier free agents are still starting quality players, not scrap heap special teamers

    Do you not recognize that their are different levels of quality players available in free agency? We have always gone after the 4th tier guys, we need more 2nd tier guys, something we haven't gone after since 2004 when we brought in 4 starting quality players in Foley, Goff, and Godfrey, none of which were big named free agents, but all were legit NFL starters
     
  11. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    MCMichales is a starting quality TE. I am not infering anything, I am not putting words in your mouth. You said that we signed just one or two FA's that fit your bill... I find the number you give credit to simply silly. You also seem to be ignoring our free agents that were brought back.

    Where AJ excells, better than any other GM in my (to channel my inner Old Skool...) 'homer' opinion is getting qualith undrafted Free Agents. TUTU was big for us this year, played when we needed him to and made an impact. Quality depth, possibly a starter, who knows a lot of people never thoguht Welker would be ther starter he is, right? Ever heard of Steve Gregory? UDFA singed in 2006. I think he should be at least in your second teir group.

    So learn to ignore me, but instead why dont you stop a moment and think that people dont always know what you think when you type something and have to think about it based on what they see whit what they think. That is human interaction 101, I figured you would have had that figured out by now, but obviously I have simply given you too much credit.
     
  12. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    What I said was "the only '2nd tier' type guy we signed was Kevin Burnett". McMicheals is not starting quality, which is why he didn't get a starting job anywhere. He WAS starting quality a few years ago, now he is just another veteran backup who can play well for a game or 2 as a starter.

    It isn't about human interaction, it is about when someone says one thing, you ALWAYS twist it into something else, every single time. I never said we don't touch backup special teamers, yet you reply to me saying "Who was that ST guy we brought in to shore up special teams?". Why did you even throw in that comment when nothing I said had ANYTHING to do with special teamers. I specifically said we don't go after starting caliber players, special teamers are usually on special teams because they are not in the starting lineup (With the rare few exceptions)
     
  13. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

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    so, bottom line is AJ hasn't drafted as well as Indy or NE or probably Pitt for that matter.

    But the Bolt front office doesn't really care about taking this team to another level. They as much as said that many times.
    has been their mantra for years.

    I don't expect that to change anytime soon
     
  14. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    OK DB67, I may be a bit insulting bya asking this, but are you really under the impression that when I respond it has to be only to what you say, and not to bring up any other points that might be applicable? Why did I mention the ST players like Washngton is because they shored up our biggest weakness? BECAUSE I THINK IT MATRTERS! I thought it to be applicable to the converstaion at hand! I bring forth other ideas, other things that you seem to not be seeing, that is what happens in a conversation, well apparently not in your conversations, yours seems to be you want people only to talk on the bullet points you approve of I guess...

    You may be arrogant enough to ignore Special Teams, but it is an intrigal part of the game. You ignore that, and that is exactly why I see your arguments as lacking any depth of thought at all. You apparently just want bling bling names if anyone impacts or doesnt start every game they dont rate.

    If someone shores up a problem, and can contribute in situations on O or D as many of our ST players do, they should be a 'second teir' player at least. What about Crayton? He didnt make an impact or start for us prior to injuring his wrist? Bur there have only been one or two acceptable FAs in the last 6 years according to you. OK... Go with it...

    Maybe I need to learn to ignore you...
     
  15. Skuzzlebutt

    Skuzzlebutt BoltTalker

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    In fighting aside...

    The biggest concern I have is this: In recent history (I think two years ago) AJ stated that he needs to do a better job as the GM. That he needs to step up his game to help this team win. However, since that comment, I haven't seen ANY adjustment to AJ's tactics. Still trading up (read: REACHING) for players he falls in love with and still mostly ignoring free agents. He needs to be more willing to pay guys like Brian Dawkins or other upper tier free agents. Its like filling a hole on this team without spending anything but money, no draft picks or current players need to be spent.

    Like other middle of the road fans, I'm not saying go Redskins style, just be more flexible and consider all avenues to improve this team.
     
  16. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    He certainly has room to improve, but I dont think he is doing as bad as many make it out.
     
  17. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    Well normally when you reply to a specific post, I would think the comments should pertain to the comment you are replying to.
     
  18. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    Lets agree to disagree then, shall we? As I have already explained that I think the ST addition was applicable.
     
  19. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    The special teams additions were very good, as has been his ability to find un-drafted free agents. Doesn't change the fact that if we had added a few more starting quality players, which would move people down the depth chart and have players that are currently starting or spot starting, would be able to concentrate more on special teams, it would help both the special teams and the starting O and D. If we brought in starting quality players to start for a year or 2 allowing our young guys to develop slowly, maybe we wouldn't have seen poor play from Vasquez and Clary for a couple years before they finally start to show some semblance of improvement, or if we would have brought in a veteran safety to pair with Weddle, instead of expecting miracles out of guys like Stuckey and Gregory, the team as a whole would have been better.

    I am not in any way saying we should be getting 4-5 of the Foley, Goff, or Godfrey type guys each years, I am saying one or 2 every year or 2 would make a significant difference. Bring in another guy or 2 like Burnett, to give young guys a little time to develop, would vastly help the team
     
  20. Skuzzlebutt

    Skuzzlebutt BoltTalker

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    His track record as a whole is not as bad as some people make it out, his recent decisions... are getting closer.
     
  21. Enormo

    Enormo BoltTalker

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    Yeah. He pissed away one of our best chances at a Lombardi trophy.
     
  22. CoronaDoug

    CoronaDoug Well-Known Member

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    Smith can no longer be successful at drafting because of one person. JOHN SPANOS the "Director of College Scouting".
    It is Spanos job to coordinate the team’s scouting efforts in preparation for the NFL Draft.
    Spanos now brings the players (that he likes) to AJ. AJ then has to select the shiniest turd out of the basket.
    AJ does not have the sack to stand up to a Spanos and tell him that his choices suck.

    I mean look at this punk.
    [​IMG]
     
  23. Pointyearedog

    Pointyearedog I only put idiots on ignore...

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    I guess I would be of the opinion that the Chargers organization needs to join the rest of the league and start bringing in at least two or three marquee names, even at the expense of colorful or questionable characterizations that these players may bring in. It's needed, the younger players can learn something on the playing field from these veterans, and bringing in a little swagger doesn't hurt. I liked characters like Marcellus Wiley, he could work a crowd on game day. I'm just using him as an example. We need a Seau type of player on defense, a leader on the field that other players can focus on, gain confidence from and build teamwork on plays.
     
  24. JohnnyX

    JohnnyX 2017 Chargers Head Coach

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    There is no clock on Norv and AJ. Next year will come and go and we'll still be wondering if these guys should be fired or not. Spanos is the one who should be on the clock not AJ and Norv.
     
  25. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    With the amount of injuries this team has endured the past couple years is another factor in the current down cycle. Merriman shuffled off to Buffalo bad leg, receivers going down quicker that a 3 dollar Ho and linebackers roulette last season. It's not the only problem but it does contribute to the fact that the Bolt's are a bit thin after you go searching the local bus stops for bodies.
     
  26. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

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    truer words brother
     
  27. Eat My Boltage

    Eat My Boltage Well-Known Member

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    Hi Conc long time no post, It's funny, I said years ago that norvaratu and Aj should be fired and everyone told me that I was crazy and now most people are crazy right along with me and the misses. Funny how time changes ones perspective.
     
  28. Eat My Boltage

    Eat My Boltage Well-Known Member

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    Hey Conc, If we have a season next year do you think you will make it to a game?
     
  29. JohnnyX

    JohnnyX 2017 Chargers Head Coach

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    Yes I too was apart of that foolish crowd that believed in the words AJ and Norv preached. After the '07 season I held on to that belief even more. But now that I come to realize the truth. That what I was believing in was no more then a big lie. Hey! But at least we get to live this lie 4 more years. Yay!!
     
  30. CoronaDoug

    CoronaDoug Well-Known Member

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    Looks like I made Kevin Acee's mailbag again. He of course side stepped the drafting part of it.

    Q: Hi Kevin, Do you think recent drafting "issues" have anything to do with the "Director of College Scouting" having the last name "Spanos"? The majority are placing the drafting burden on AJ but is the GM expected to follow all the players? Does AJ have the spine to disagree with "Director SPANOS"? Please enlighten us on this dynamic. Thanks!

    A: No. Stop ... First, AJ Smith answers to AJ Smith in personnel matters. John Spanos answers to AJ Smith in personnel matters. Second, and I don't know exactly how good John Spanos is as a scout, but word is he knows his stuff. Would he have this job if his name were not Spanos? Almost certainly not. But get over it. John started as ballboy and has worked his way up the ladder. The guy is passionate about football, scouting and the Chargers. I think you're going to love him when he takes over for AJ in a few years.

    Kevin Acee
     

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