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Chargers’ GM partially to blame for Rivers’ funk

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by DenverBolt67, Nov 7, 2011.

  1. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ms-silver_morning_rush_philip_rivers_problems_110711

    SAN DIEGO – The challenge was daunting: Defeat the best team in football, a green-and-gold-clad crew of talented, undefeated, still-hungry champions led by a nearly unstoppable quarterback. Not unpredictably,Philip Rivers failed.

    Despite a valiant effort that included 385 passing yards and a near-comeback from a 21-point deficit with 10:27 remaining, the San Diego Chargers’ struggling, overburdened quarterback face-planted near the finish line: With 33 seconds remaining in Sunday’s 45-38 defeat to the Green Bay Packers at Qualcomm Stadium, Rivers dropped back and lofted a downfield duck that settled into the hands of an opposing defender, an unnerving sensation he has experienced with greater frequency than any NFL passer in 2011.
    Now, suddenly and surprisingly, he’s Jay Cutler in 2009, or Ryan Leaf back in the day.After serving up a career-high three picks on Sunday, two of which were returned for first-quarter touchdowns, Rivers has thrown 14 interceptions – three more than any other NFL quarterback, and one more than he had in all of 2010. In fact, in five previous seasons as a starter, Rivers exceeded that total only once, getting picked off 15 times in 2007.
    Relax, Chargers fans – that Leaf reference was just a joke. Rivers isn’t close to that messed up, but he’s absolutely going through the worst stretch of an otherwise stellar career.
    “I’m not the first quarterback that’s fought through this thing, and I certainly won’t be the last,” Rivers said shortly before leaving Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday evening. “You fight through a slump. A home-run hitter keeps swinging, and a 3-point shooter keeps shooting.”
    While the football world ponders the source of Rivers’ rough patch – and it’s a very valid question – I’m putting much of the culpability for the Chargers’ continued descent into mediocrity on the organization’s real heavy-hitter. Tell me this: Has anyone done more swinging and missing lately than general manager A.J. Smith, and isn’t it time someone held him accountable for his declining batting average?
    Everyone seems to have a theory as to what’s wrong with Rivers, from an unreported physical ailment (he swears he’s perfectly healthy) to the sleep-disruption caused by the birth of his sixth child last month (zzzzzzz). And while it’s always fashionable to blame Chargers coach Norv Turner for any of the team’s failings, the truth is he’s doing a commendable job under less-than-ideal conditions.
    The same cannot be said of Turner’s boss. Despite a three-game losing streak and zero impressive victories, San Diego (4-4) remains in a three-way tie with the Raiders and Chiefs for first place in the AFC West – but let’s not confuse it with the elite team it used to be.
    In terms of talent acquisition, and team-building in general, Smith is in as big a slump as his quarterback, perhaps even bigger.
    Imagine you were the general manager of another NFL franchise, and you were given carte blanche to raid the Chargers’ roster. How many of the 53 active players would you rush to put on your team?
    Let me tell you how some of the GMs I’ve talked to recently would approach such a scenario: They’d grab Rivers, wideout Vincent Jackson (who had a monster game on Sunday, with seven receptions for 141 yards and three touchdowns), cornerback Quentin Jammer, punter Mike Scifres and two players who didn’t play against the Pack because of injuries, guard Kris Dielman and outside linebacker Shaun Phillips.
    No one else would likely generate more than lukewarm interest – not even perennial Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates, who despite a good game against Green Bay’s struggling secondary (eight catches, 96 yards, one TD) appears to be 31 going on 50, his ability to achieve separation curtailed by a persistent foot injury and some extra pounds.
    “It’s harsh to say, but he looks old and fat,” one Chargers source said of Gates. “He’s not beating people. We don’t have any speed, we’re soft on defense, and we put so much on our quarterback. When he was playing great, we could kind of get away with it. Now he’s not playing very well, and it’s all falling apart.”
    The GM’s ego hasn’t helped: Jackson, a big-time receiver who should be a highly valued asset, has been jerked around, and it’s not surprising that his play has been uneven in 2011. Smith has been more concerned with showing Jackson and his agents who’s boss than either a) locking him up with a long-term deal or b) trading him and trying to find an equally potent target for Rivers.Smith’s recent drafts have been alarmingly devoid of impact players, and if the idea has been to build a team around Rivers’ skills (in conjunction with Turner’s exceptional play-calling acumen), he’s underperforming in that department as well.
    As Gates’ foot problems have become chronic, causing opposing defenses to fear him less, Smith has yet to surround Rivers with at least a semi-legitimate replacement.
    The running back situation is even more dubious. The Chargers held onto a declining LaDainian Tomlinson too long (in fairness to Smith, owner Dean Spanos deserves some of the blame for that), allowed future All-ProMichael Turner to leave via free agency and ended up having to franchise diminutive scatback and return aceDarren Sproles before cutting him free after 2010, much to the delight of the Saints.
    Smith tried to remedy the situation by trading up to select Jacob Hester in the third round of the 2008 draft. Viewed by Smith as a viable replacement for Turner, Hester wasn’t remotely close. He remains on the roster as a fullback but is hardly a rushing threat.
    Two years later Smith reached for Ryan Matthews, trading up 16 spots to select the former Fresno State runner with the 12th overall pick. Mathews has been oft-injured and fumble-prone; converted fullback Mike Tolbert, an undrafted free agent in ’08, is the team’s top ballcarrier.
    Meanwhile, a defense that once boasted studs like Shawne Merriman, Steve Foley, Jamal Williams and Antonio Cromartie is bereft of playmakers and nastiness, putting even more pressure on Rivers to excel.
    I’m not saying Smith doesn’t know how to judge players – he has had his share of smart picks, most notably Rivers in ’04 – and I do respect his strong principles and faith in his own methodology. That said, for all the criticism routinely thrown Norv Turner’s way, why isn’t Smith being scrutinized for his role in the team’s decline?
    Despite popular perception, San Diego is currently a middle-of-the-pack operation, nothing more. The Chargers went 9-7 last season and missed the playoffs, making them 13-11 in their past 24 games. If they didn’t play in a division that has been among the league’s least competitive over the past decade, their current predicament might seem a bit more dire.
    Then again, this is San Diego, where the local paper serves as an enabler for mediocrity and thus helps facilitate the art of settling. Smith is rarely criticized and, at times, his faults are blatantly excused or rationalized. Though he has yet to build a team that has won even a conference championship, many locals probably believe he’s the 21st century’s answer to Bill Walsh, only more charming.

    All of this brings us back to Rivers, whose normal standard of excellence covers up a lot of organizational warts, and who consequently has the weight of a dilapidated stadium on his shoulders.Imagine if Smith was in charge of a franchise in New York, or Philadelphia, or Dallas – do you think he’d possibly be getting a bit more heat, or might have to answer for his autocratic stubbornness once in awhile? I don’t imagine he’d enjoy that hypothetical gig quite as much as his current one; in fact, there’s a pretty good chance he’d have been forced to vacate it by now.
    What’s the problem? Is it a physical issue? Rivers suffered a sternum injury in a Week 2 defeat to the Pats, and because he puts more of his body into throws than quarterbacks with stronger arms – which is to say most of them – some outsiders have speculated that this is the source of his problem. He swears his health is not a factor, however.
    “It seems like everyone wants an answer,” Rivers said. “I guess that’s a compliment.”
    I tend to believe there’s nothing physically or mechanically wrong, given that most of his passes on a high-volume afternoon (26-of-46, 385 yards, four TDs) seemed very well-thrown – though he did, admittedly, float the ball over the middle toward Jackson that Packers safety Charlie Peprahpicked off at the Green Bay 18-yard line and returned 76 yards to the San Diego 6 with 14 seconds remaining.
    That interception delighted about a third of the 68,908 paying customers at Qualcomm, as the large cheesehead contingent made itself heard throughout the game. There were jubilant cheers on back-to-back San Diego possessions late in the first quarter that ended with pick-sixes: The first was a hard pass Rivers tried to force to Gates that bounced off the tight end’s hands and into the arms of Peprah, who weaved 40 yards through a slew of half-hearted tackling efforts; two passes later, Rivers attempted an ill-advised sideline throw to Patrick Crayton that cornerbackTramon Williams jumped on and turned into a 43-yard score for a 21-7 lead.
    Spotting the Packers (8-0) 14 points is like swinging through the In ‘N’ Out drive-through lane on the way to a hot-dog eating contest against Joey Chestnut. As Rivers is the first to attest, Aaron Rodgers is the current top dog among NFL passers. “I don’t think it’s even close,” Rivers said.
    Rivers should be jealous, not that he’d ever admit to that. He’s too fierce of a competitor to put his problems on anyone else, and he’s a relentless optimist, viewing Thursday night’s showdown with the Raiders at Qualcomm as a slump-breaking opportunity that can launch the Chargers on yet another second-half, season-saving run.It doesn’t hurt that general manager Ted Thompson has surrounded Rodgers with a fresh-faced (the Packers had the Clay Matthews, Greg Jennings, Williams, B.J. Raji), underrated playmakers (Desmond Bishop, Morgan Burnett, Jordy Nelson) and meat-and-potatoes stalwarts (Scott Wells,Jarius Wynn, John Kuhn) everywhere Rodgers and defensive leader Charles Woodson turn.
    As Rivers insisted in his postgame news conference, “I’m not frustrated one bit; I’m excited about the next challenge.”
    Turner, too, is keeping the faith. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” the coach said. “We’ll fight our way out of this. Philip will, because no one prepares any better. I can’t express how he just fights back and competes. And it’s not like he’s being reckless. He’s very much the same guy.”
    If so, Rivers is doing a pretty good imitation of a less precise, more mistake-prone guy – and it’s clear that the Chargers aren’t good enough to win with that dude.
    My theory: Rivers knows this, and he’s pressing, creating a self-perpetuating cycle that has 8-8 and 24 interceptions written all over it.
    If Rivers is pressing, can you blame him?
    Personally, I blame the guy who surrounded his quarterback with substandard talent, yet would have us believe it’s all part of the plan.
     
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  2. Eurobolt Mike

    Eurobolt Mike BoltTalker

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    Hmm.

    Now that makes some interesting reading.

    'An average team with a superstar quarterback who's having an average season' Damn ESPN - they seem to have got that right then...
     
  3. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    I dont get it! Rivers is 0-4 when passing for more than 300 yards this season. What the hell is this?! Bizaro world?!
     
  4. Ride The Lightning

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

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    Trying to do to much with too little.
     
  5. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    Cant argue with this.

    Further AJ is a 'forum' type personality. He never has seen a fight he doesnt like. When LT made his comments on Rivers, did AJ take the high road, no.

    AJ has been a good GM, best in recent memory, but he needs to step up his game IMO.
     
  6. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    I agree and disagree. He is throwing off of his back foot more, and making bad desicions. He is in a funk. True his supporting cast is not getting much practice time, and they are not the talented group they are advertised to be. But when Rivers throws for 300 we should win... SMH
     
  7. Ride The Lightning

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

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    And we probably would have if 3 of those passes didn't fall right in the laps of the GB defense.
     
  8. Dublin Bolt

    Dublin Bolt BoltTalker

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    “It’s harsh to say, but he looks old and fat,” one Chargers source said of Gates.

    Who the F Charger source said the above?. Even if u think it you would never say such a thing. Old and fat my you know what. Hurt, yes.

    Lots of good points about AJ. He didn't even draft Philip though!, he picked Eli. Yes, one could argue he knew that the Giants would trade the house but how could he be sure Philip would have been there at #4?.

    His recent drafts have been pure muck (relatively speaking). Personally I think the loss of Buddy Nix was massive, another guy who lost the battle of AJ Ego.
     
  9. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    2 I put on Rivers. The last one was a back foot 'who the hell is he throwing to' pass. The first was a deflection.

    What I want to know is why is this 'agressive' D not able to create turnovers to even the score? Well other than phantom yellow flasg when ever they sniff making a play... LOL
     
  10. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

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    I think his Charger source is all the Chargers forums... :roflmao:
     
  11. dizzle498

    dizzle498 Bolts lover 4 life

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    Couldn't agree more with this article.
     
  12. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    Because the quality of talent is below average. Chargers D has 3 'above average' players (Jammer, Weddle, and Phillips), and other than that, they are mostly below average players
     
  13. Moses

    Moses Can You Stand The Rain?

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    I don't buy anything written by Michael Silver. That dude is a Charger hating hack and always has been.

    He probably made up the part about Gates himself, and saying that Rivers has nothing around him is crazy considering he has VJ, Floyd, Gates, Mathews and Tolbert. And blaming AJ's ego is hardly anything new here....

    We've suffered some close losses with mistakes that we probably shouldn't have made, but step back from the ledge people, it is FAR from over. The encouraging part is that Rivers absolutely tore through the GB secondary for most of that game, without Floyd and Mathews and a far from 100% Gates.

    Rivers will get better. I believe this. We will win this division.
     
  14. 65TossPowerTrap

    65TossPowerTrap BoltTalker

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    That's not all that unusual in the NFL. Often times, QBs have career days in losses. San Diego is just a little spoiled (in this respect) with getting used to monster QB numbers on a pretty regular basis. Most teams require a little more balance to be successful, though there are a growing number of notable exceptions.
     
  15. 65TossPowerTrap

    65TossPowerTrap BoltTalker

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    Ladanian Tomlinson?
     
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  16. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    The more yards you throw for, the worst the outcome usually. If you throw for 400 yards or more, you lose more times than not. It's when teams fall far behind, that they abandon the run and get pass happy.
     
  17. SuperCharger92

    SuperCharger92 Winners Win

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    I took most of my argument in the other discussion from here.. I agree with alot of his points..
     
  18. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    So, you think Gates is fat too? :eek:
     
  19. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    I love how anyone that doesn't kiss the Chargers *** like Acee, gets called a hater. It cracks me up. I am nto saying I agree with everything this article says, but to discount it because "He is a hater" is totally ridiculous IMO
     
  20. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    He didn't say Gates is fat. He said “It’s harsh to say, but he looks old and fat,” one Chargers source said of Gates. Big difference between what a source said and what his opinion is.
     
  21. eoconnor101

    eoconnor101 BoltTalker

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    I like the article, it's fair and objective unlike a UT article. I for one agree that AJ has made too many mistakes. Let's review:

    1) General roster mismanagement: My biggest problem was when he let Turner go to Atlanta to keep LT, I argued to keep Turner then, everyone thought I was nuts, then a year later LT is on the Jets and we have to waste a #1 pick on a RB, a number one pick that could have got us a top defensive player

    2) As a direct result of overpaying Weddle by not extending his contract last year, no money is left for Sproles and Burnett, Cooper and English and Philips all out know and no depth at line.

    3) Drafts corners Cason and Gilchrist, neither of which looks up for it, drafts Buster Davis and Larry English and Cory Liuget who isn't big enough to play DE....it shows and he overpursues almost every pass rush

    4) Plays the tough guy to McNeil and VJ, probably cost us the playoffs last year

    5) Hired and extended contract of Norv turner.

    Anyways, AJ right now should be scanning for linebackers, DBs, and a viable replacement for Gates. Too bad we could have already had those things.

    Anyways, Rivers is still a talented QB, it sucks that we lost...look to Oakland on Thursday PR, get mad.
     
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  22. Blue Bolt

    Blue Bolt Persona Non Grata

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    Humor is easily lost here......... ;)
     
  23. Pointyearedog

    Pointyearedog I only put idiots on ignore...

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    Almost sounds like the Fouts era, big scoring games, passes flying everywhere, only to lose 48 - 45...
     
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  24. 18gramblingcharlie

    18gramblingcharlie Bitter San Diego sports fan

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    Couldnt agree more with your statements. Imagine how much better our offense would look with a first round receiver, coming in to his own, in his forth or fifth season as a compliment to Jackson? Imagine the addition depth we would have on the roster having not spent it moving up in the draft to 'reach' for Weddle and Matthews? Imagine how different our mediocre corners would play getting help from a game changing LB rushing the passer? Yes, AJ has hit on several later round players but when the choice is coming from the first round we,time and again, are left scratching our heads. Not to mention his tough guy stance when it comes to free agents. He may have had cache a few years back but his shadow is not as intimidating now. Who's to say the exact genesis of his football amnesia? Maybe leaving 'football decisions' to those with little experience are impacting the bottom line of the talent pool.
     
  25. Moses

    Moses Can You Stand The Rain?

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    For a long time i've thought this dude was a Charger hater, it isn't because he refuses to kiss *** or whatever you might think, but i don't like this guy's columns and never have. He isn't saying anything new he's just taking an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon.

    If someone wants to be objective and say something about the team then fine, but his article to me is over the top as usual.
     
  26. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    To me, if more of the local media was critical and demanded more, like the national media "Haters" like Silver and Trotter do, AJ and Dean may feel more pressure to step up their game. AJ would have been fired or stepped up his game years ago if the Chargers were in New York or Philly and the media treated him and the entire org, the way I wish SD's media would.
     
  27. Moses

    Moses Can You Stand The Rain?

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    I agree with your principle, but what we want is honest reporting and analysis, not rosy soft excuse making and not haterism either. But i guess we can make up our own minds on what we read, and then use a place such as this to express our own opinions.

    At the end of the day, I'm soneone who believes Turner and Smith should be long gone, but either way i still love this team and still root for them, so i just hope they can make the best of the situation that we are now in.
     
  28. boltssbbound

    boltssbbound Well-Known Member

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    This article's comments on Gates calls the credibility of the whole thing into question. Gates had almost 100 receiving yards and a TD yesterday, and drew a couple flags on top of that. On the play where Rivers threw his final pick, Gates had beat Charles Woodson 1 on 1 just as Rivers unloaded the pass in VJ's direction. Rivers rushed because of the blitz. If he had waited a split second longer and looked in Gates direction, Gates might have gone for 6.

    These 3 losses have been ugly. Penalties and turnovers have killed us. But to act like this is just a mediocre team without talent or that Gates is over the hill is laughable. Gates put up HOF TE numbers yesterday. The week before, he was being double covered on almost every play. Gates has always looked fat and slow when you watch him on film. He's just such a smooth athlete that he never looks like he's running that fast or being that sudden, but he consistently gets open.

    When you go minus 3 in turnover ratio, have two picks returned for TDs and still come within 7 points of beating the defending SB champs, then you are a pretty talented team. It's not the lack of talent on this team that's killing us. It's the boneheaded mistakes.

    What's frustrating is that, even with the mistakes, if we'd played as good as we did yesterday in our 7 other games, we'd probably be 7-1 right now.
     
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  29. boltssbbound

    boltssbbound Well-Known Member

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    I don't think Garay, Butler or Spikes are below average. Hughes is an excellent nickel corner. Barnes is also a stellar situational pass rusher. Liguet, Martin and Gilchrist are young players. It's too early to dismiss any of them. Even Cason is not as bad as many have made him out to be. This defense has deficiencies, but it is an above average defense.
     
  30. AnteaterCharger

    AnteaterCharger Calibrating Bolttalk, Podcast by Podcast Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    even that deflection one was throwing into very tight single coverage. Rivers on a normal year makes that say 60% of the time, last year he probably would've threaded the needle. This year it doesn't turn out. By comparison Aaron Rodgers was threading it into smaller windows even when the Chargers had great coverage
     

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