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Bolts heading into an offseason of decisions, possible change

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by boltmanbz, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. boltmanbz

    boltmanbz Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2006

    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    So now that Pittsburgh has ladled its cold, bitter soup into the Chargers' bowl, we must ask: What's the next course?

    The 2009 Chargers will be quarterback Philip Rivers' team, as was 2008's. But he doesn't have to be the sole proprietor. It also should be linebacker Shawne Merriman's team.

    And, as we sit here now looking at the club's current roster – one soon to be tossed with General Manager A.J. Smith's Own dressing – it also should be tailback LaDainian Tomlinson's team.

    Except, in this case, two out of three may be bad.

    I'd wager a short part of what little I own that this great running back, this San Diego icon, has made his last juke and cut as a San Diego Charger.

    Life without LT? Prepare.

    He has three years remaining on perhaps the NFL's most lucrative running back contract. His salary cap number in 2009 will be $8.8 million, and when you consider he's now 30 and due to injury basically has been a nonfactor in the team's last two failed playoff runs, doing the arithmetic isn't necessary.

    LT's fate will be a business decision and help, which the Chargers need in more than one area, will cost money. He makes a lot of it, and it's unlikely he will be asked to take a pay cut.

    “The areas are glaring,” Smith says, knowing the Steelers smoked out the weaknesses.

    Once cornerback Quentin Jammer went out with a leg problem in Pittsburgh, the defensive front seven was dominated and the Steelers went after Jammer's replacements with considerable success.

    “When Jammer goes out of the football game,” Smith says, “that's too bad – too bad for the Chargers and good for Pittsburgh.”

    Once that opened up, the Chargers couldn't stop the run and couldn't get to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, so they couldn't stop anything. Not a good cocktail and it burned the hell out of their throat. More help is needed on the line and at deep safety.

    The right side of the offensive line, especially, needs shoring up. Without LT, there was an overwhelming inability Sunday to run the ball – unless you think 15 yards on 11 carries is good.

    Darren Sproles, soon to be an unrestricted free agent, is a terrific runner, perhaps the most exciting player in The League, but he's not an every-down back. That much was evident Sunday. The Chargers were able to get away with him a week earlier, but the Indianapolis defense isn't Pittsburgh's, for one thing, and the Colts, not knowing the extent of LT's groin injury, still had to prepare for him.

    The Steelers, despite spreading manure all week that LT was going to play, knew he wasn't. Tomlinson didn't help matters any when someone in his camp put the severity of the injury out there. It didn't come from the organization, which was furious.

    So that's it. Am I pleased? No. All I can do is look at the team's running back situation. LT. Likely gone. Sproles. Could be gone. Michael Bennett. A serviceable journeyman. Jacob Hester. His future is at fullback. Mike Tolbert. An undersized fullback.

    The only every-down back there is LT. Hard to believe he can be let go without a very good replacement. There are no guarantees Tomlinson won't get hurt again. There are no guarantees he won't.

    But the Chargers know Sproles isn't an every-down guy.

    “A lot of people say I dance around it and avoid the question,” says Smith, not exactly Baryshnikov. “Darren Sproles was drafted by the San Diego Chargers to help us in three areas – kick returns, spot play as a running back and catching passes out of the backfield.

    “We will be pursuing Darren for exactly the same reasons.”

    In other words, Smith has hard thinking to do over the next month as he begins to piece together the 2009 roster. It's beyond doubtful he can replace a Hall of Fame running back with another Hall of Fame running back, so he has to know there's a man in waiting somewhere before the cord is severed.

    “You're assuming,” Smith says, “that, if we have to move on, we're not capable of getting another running back.”

    I'm not assuming anything. All I can do is look at the chart, envision it without LT, and know for a fact he has no everydown back and he has a coach in Norv Turner who puts the run first.

    As for the defense, even those with severe brain flatulence know the loss of Merriman to knee surgery was a disaster. The defense played better under coordinator Ron Rivera, but the great player couldn't be replaced, which is why we must wonder if LT can be replaced.

    “I don't discuss injuries during the season,” Smith says. “The season's over now. Unless we figure out how to stop the passing assaults on this defense and get off the field and establish a sound running game, we will not get to where we want to go.

    “We were not good enough in the postseason to go (on). We didn't stack up. We got our butts kicked. We missed Shawne Merriman.”

    Finally. He said it.

    But who's going to run the ball? He can't say.

    In the end, this is A.J. Smith's team. As suspected.

    Nick Canepa: (619) 293-1397; nick.canepa@uniontrib.com
  2. mandude

    mandude BoltTalker

    Nov 30, 2006
    my guess Michael Bush for a conditional 2nd in 2010. We use our 16th on a fast LB who help cover the tightends, and even put some pressure the QB.

    Before you laugh, we came close in october, and he's shown skills, and has some real experience. Depending how he does, we may draft high for a RB in 2010.

    But I could see us trading down our 16th and picking a RB and a promising safety in the low 20s... I think we go for beef in the 3rd.

    but what do I know (I'll tell yeah not much).
  3. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    Getting rid of LT would be a bone head move. None of his injuries are tied to age. After the toe healed he was as effective as ever. We trade him we'll regret, same as parting with the Burner. Letting him go had as much to do with 8-8 as Merriman.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Ride The Lightning

    Ride The Lightning Join the Dark Side, we have cookies.

    Aug 15, 2006
    We cannot let LT go. Period. Not yet anyways. We do need to seriously look for his heir apparent right now tho.

    BEEF, BEEF, and more BEEF.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Cheapseats

    Cheapseats Loud, proud Charger fan

    Jul 24, 2008
    I say we get the best available D-lineman or O-lineman at the #16 pick because those areas need shoring up and the talent usually drops off pretty quickly after the 1st round. I would also be OK with a "Ronnie Lott" type Safety who will blow up the receiver and then go into the stands after his family!

    We could trade one or two underperforming players for additional draft picks or a veteran that fits into AJ's shopping list. I believe we can get a quality running back in the mid rounds (Michael Turner was a 5th rounder) without breaking the bank...preferably a Turner-like, big, fast back.

    LT stays if he wants to...he had his worst season ever and ONLY got 1,500 freaking all purpose yards!!! The people that want to throw him under the bus must be high! Several teams had completely healthy running backs that can only dream of numbers like that. The 2008 Chargers limped through the first half of the season...let's see what they can do with a healthy team.

    Go earn your money, AJ!

    Go Chargers!!!! Back from the dead in 2009!
  6. Showmeyourbolt

    Showmeyourbolt Well-Known Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    **** you Smiff. Thanks for Norf dickwad, and your last two drafts have really been works of art. Let's hear your critique of yourself.

    Edit: Sorry if the above is irrational, but I'm getting tired of AJ's act. He's not the be all and end all of GM's. His decisions have been far from fool proof, and I'm starting to get tired of his whole hard *** theatrics.

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