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L.T. looking past his season of discontent

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Dec 27, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Friday, December 26, 2008
    By Kevin Acee


    He's worn a frown so much of this confounding season, and he isn't taking any of it back.

    LaDainian Tomlinson doesn't ever want anyone to think he can accept losing or can remain silent when he sees things he doesn't agree with.

    But none of that is on his mind now.

    “It doesn't matter to me what's happened in the past,” Tomlinson said this week. “We have an opportunity to win this division.”

    On his way to career lows in rushing attempts, yards and perhaps touchdowns, Tomlinson has no idea what the future holds.

    “Hopefully it's with this team,” he said.

    But he is finally pleased with the present.

    After Sunday's victory over Tampa Bay, Tomlinson actually volunteered effusive praise for the offensive play calling, something he has both subtly and overtly questioned all season.

    “Norv (Turner) did a great job of play calling,” Tomlinson said that afternoon.

    Tomlinson finished with 90 yards on 21 carries, averaging more than 3.9 yards a carry for just the second time in almost two months and just the fifth time all season. But the man who before this season had never gone more than four games without a touchdown, did not score for the eighth time in 15 games this season.

    And after averaging fewer than eight games a year between 2002-07 where he fell short of 100 yards rushing, he did so for the 13th time this season.
    Yet he walked from Raymond James Stadium smiling.

    “It was because of the balance and the way we controlled the game,” Tomlinson said this week. “That looked like the San Diego Chargers. No matter who scored the touchdowns and who got the credit, it was the balance and sticking with the running game. That's what made me happy.”

    The change in his tune and his demeanor backs up his contention for going on three years now that winning is all that matters.

    “I've shown I'm close or on my way to the Hall of Fame, obviously,” Tomlinson said before the season. “That's one thing I've proven. But as far as me accomplishing something to me that's really special, I've done nothing.”

    He wants to win a Super Bowl or two.

    “I would feel like I have accomplished some great things if that happens,” he said in June.

    He acknowledged again in October that he felt as if time were running out, and that prompted his midseason talk with Turner about the running game.

    Quarterback Philip Rivers has thrown on 56 percent of the Chargers' offensive plays this season, a higher ratio than in any of the past four seasons.

    There are myriad reasons for that, but the emphasis of the offense has clearly changed.

    With that, and the fact that he will be 30 in June, the question is fair to ask whether Tomlinson is expendable as the Chargers look forward.

    While Tomlinson has said he will likely play through his contract, which has three more seasons on it, there is a possibility he won't finish his career a Charger.

    No one on either side is talking about it.

    “It's not something I should be worrying about right now,” Tomlinson said this week.

    But it is not out of the realm of possibility that Tomlinson will Sunday be playing his final game as a Charger. Working in concert, the Chargers and Tomlinson's agent could find a trading partner willing to give up draft picks.

    Sources said the Chargers will not renegotiate Tomlinson's contract, and while the team believes Tomlinson has a year or two left at optimal production, it is already thinking about the future of the position.

    It probably should be, and that is not a personal slight to Tomlinson.

    While Tomlinson has shown this season when he has room to run that he can still do so with an exceptional burst and get away from defenders, his 1,014 yards with one game to play are 222 yards below his previous low set his rookie season of 2001. That was also the year he averaged a career-low 3.6 yards per carry, which is his average this season.

    And while he has given indications throughout a stellar career that he can get better, the Chargers can't count on that.

    Tomlinson is 29. His last game of this season, Sunday or in the playoffs, will be his final one before turning 30.

    Only Curtis Martin among the 13 players in NFL history with more career rushing yards than Tomlinson increased his average per carry or per game after turning 30. Only Jerome Bettis increased his touchdown rate.

    But there were some notable variations to suggest that Tomlinson doesn't necessarily have to be on the decline.

    Among the 13 players, there were nine 1,200-yard seasons post-30. Martin had his best season (a league-leading 1,697 yards in 2004) at age 31. Walter Payton had his second-best season at 31 and fourth-best season at 32. Barry Sanders had 1,491 yards in 1998, at age 30, and then retired.

    Tomlinson often has spoken of his admiration for Sanders and his understanding of why the Hall of Famer walked away in what was seemingly his prime.

    Asked this week if he was still the same player who in 2006 set NFL records with 28 rushing touchdowns and 31 touchdowns overall, Tomlinson said, “Yep.”

    So, given the room to run and the opportunities he did that year, he could achieve those marks?

    “Definitely,” he said.

    Tomlinson did suffer a severe toe injury in the season opener this year that hobbled him for the next month and a half. The offensive line and other run-blocking elements have struggled this season. The Chargers have trailed in the second half of the majority of their games, necessitating more passing. And they have run far fewer offensive plays overall than at any time in Tomlinson's career.

    Still, Tomlinson knows the offense has changed.

    “I can't say what's been the big reason,” he said. “There have been a few things. I don't want to get into that. Some of it will be addressed in the offseason.”

    Right now, he doesn't care why.
     
  2. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    L.T.'S DOWN YEAR
    With one game remaining this season, LaDainian Tomlinson is threatening to set career lows in virtually every statistical category involving rushing. A look at his career, season by season:

    Year ; G ; Att. ; Yds. ; Avg. ; TD ; Rec.-Yds. ; TD
    2001 ; 16 ; 339 ; 1,236 ; 3.6 ; 10 ; 59-367 ; 0
    2002 ; 16 ; 372 ; 1,683 ; 4.5 ; 14 ; 79-489 ; 1
    2003 ; 16 ; 313 ; 1,645 ; 5.3 ; 13 ; 100-725 ; 4
    2004 ; 15 ; 339 ; 1,335 ; 3.9 ; 17 ; 53-441 ; 1
    2005 ; 16 ; 339 ; 1,462 ; 4.3 ; 18 ; 51-370 ; 2
    2006 ; 16 ; 348 ; 1,815 ; 5.2 ; 28 ; 56-508 ; 3
    2007 ; 16 ; 315 ; 1,474 ; 4.7 ; 15 ; 60-475 ; 3
    2008 ; 15 ; 278 ; 1,014 ; 3.6 ; 8 ; 52-426 ; 1
    Totals ; 126 ; 2,643 ; 11,664 ; 4.4 ; 123 ; 510-3,801 ; 15
     
  3. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    THE BIG 3-UH-OH
    Sunday will mark LaDainian Tomlinson's final regular-season game before his 30th birthday in June. A look at how the 13 running backs with more career rushing yards than Tomlinson fared before and after their 30th birthday:
    (KEY – YPC: Yards per carry; YPG: Yards per game; TD/G: Touchdowns per game; *-active player.)

    Emmitt Smith (18,355)
    Time period ; G ; YPC ; YPG ; TD/G
    Before 30 ; 140 ; 4.3 ; 89.8 ; 0.89
    After 30 ; 86 ; 3.9 ; 67.3 ; 0.45
    Walter Payton (16,726)
    Time period ; G ; YPC ; YPG ; TD/G
    Before 30 ; 130 ; 4.4 ; 89.4 ; 0.60
    After 30 ; 60 ; 4.4 ; 85.0 ; 0.53
    Barry Sanders (15,269)
    Time period ; G ; YPC ; YPG ; TD/G
    Before 30 ; 137 ; 5.1 ; 100.6 ; 0.69
    After 30 ; 16 ; 4.3 ; 93.2 ; 0.25
    Curtis Martin (14,101)
    Time period ; G ; YPC ; YPG ; TD/G
    Before 30 ; 124 ; 4.0 ; 83.6 ; 0.57
    After 30 ; 44 ; 4.1 ; 85.0 ; 0.43
    Jerome Bettis (13,662)
    Time period ; G ; YPC ; YPG ; TD/G
    Before 30 ; 136 ; 4.0 ; 80.0 ; 0.39
    After 30 ; 56 ; 3.5 ; 67.6 ; 0.68
    Eric Dickerson (13,259)
    Time period ; G ; YPC ; YPG ; TD/G
    Before 30 ; 105 ; 4.6 ; 106.9 ; 0.78
    After 30 ; 41 ; 3.7 ; 49.6 ; 0.20
    Tony Dorsett (12,739)
    Time period ; G ; YPC ; YPG ; TD/G
    Before 30 ; 100 ; 4.5 ; 83.4 ; 0.53
    After 30 ; 73 ; 4.0 ; 60.3 ; 0.33
    Jim Brown (12,312)
    Time period ; G ; YPC ; YPG ; TD/G
    Before 30 ; 118 ; 5.2 ; 104.3 ; 0.90
    After 30 ; N/A
    Marshall Faulk (12,279)
    Time period ; G ; YPC ; YPG ; TD/G
    Before 30 ; 135 ; 4.4 ; 77.0 ; 0.64
    After 30 ; 41 ; 4.0 ; 46.0 ; 0.32
    Marcus Allen (12,243)
    Time period ; G ; YPC ; YPG ; TD/G
    Before 30 ; 105 ; 4.1 ; 69.3 ; 0.60
    After 30 ; 117 ; 4.0 ; 42.5 ; 0.51
    Franco Harris (12,120)
    Time period ; G ; YPC ; YPG ; TD/G
    Before 30 ; 111 ; 4.3 ; 77.1 ; 0.65
    After 30 ; 62 ; 3.8 ; 57.4 ; 0.31
    Thurman Thomas (12,074)
    Time period ; G ; YPC ; YPG ; TD/G
    Before 30 ; 123 ; 4.3 ; 79.1 ; 0.44
    After 30 ; 59 ; 4.0 ; 39.7 ; 0.19
    *Edgerrin James (12,021)
    Time period ; G ; YPC ; YPG ; TD/G
    Before 30 ; 128 ; 4.1 ; 90.7 ; 0.60
    After 30 ; 12 ; 3.5 ; 34.5 ; 0.25
    *LaDainian Tomlinson (11,664)
    Time period ; G ; YPC ; YPG ; TD/G
    Before 30 ; 126 ; 4.4 ; 92.6 ; 0.98
    After 30 ; N/A
     
  4. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    Wouldn't that be a ***** - keep Norv, lose LT. :tdown:

    LT goes to NE - at least 2 rings. It sucks, but it's true. :icon_eek:
     
  5. BoltzRule

    BoltzRule Well-Known Member

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    Hopefully LT gets 2 rushing TDs this Sunday, would be nice if he extended his 10 tds a season streak. As far as trade talk, that's pure speculation by Acee. It wouldn't surprise me if we drafted someone to groom to take over for LT but I'd be very surprised if they traded him especially since he's worth a lot more to the Chargers than he is to other teams.
     
  6. Boltergeist

    Boltergeist BoltTalker

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    This is another example of why I'm not too fond of Kevin Acee....more speculation on his part along the lines of (paraphrasing) 'Merriman is as good as gone'...'Cotrell won't be fired'....'LT might be traded'....blah blah blah.....and then he baits a reserve LB and team idiot Wilhelm into calling Cutler a Punk with the question "is Cutler a punk?"...

    Stating that LT is having his worst year is beyond obvious....but I think equally obvious is the collapse of our OLine and lack of running room....add to that the fact that we've taken out our base running plays in favor of a more finesse approach....a toe injury that has hampered him most of the year... and there you have it.

    I've always seen LT as a lot like Barry Sanders and Walter Payton..in fact a combination of the two with the common denominator being that they all were consistently productive for a long time....Payton well into his 30's after having a down year in like 1980 or thereabouts when people thought HE was done too. Sanders simply left the game when he was still playing at a high level and I'm sure had at least a couple of years left.

    Getting rid of LT would be beyond idiotic at this point. It would be worse than when we dumped off Rodney Harrison just because he was injured and was perceived to be wahed up.... Let him play out the remaining 3 years and get a big Turner-like back who can spell him so you have something like the Jacksonville combo in Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor......LT got paid HUGE money a long time ago.....his salary for a former MVP looks pretty reasonable now..

    I can't imagine LT doing worse next year than this...especially if we fix the line and get the runblocking in gear....If this is his WORST possible year...and I believe it is....then he is going to look like a bargain these next 3 as we shoot for the big trophy.
     
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  7. Sydalish

    Sydalish Addicted to Sports

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    The thought of losing LT.... it makes me sick to my stomach. F you Kevin Acee for making one of the best weeks ever feel icky :tdown:
     
  8. Showmeyourbolt

    Showmeyourbolt Well-Known Member

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    Acee is nothing but a **** stirrer.
     
  9. BeerGuy

    BeerGuy BoltTalker

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    We'll take him.

    Coming to NE sure seemed to help Randy's attitude issues.:yes:
     
  10. Enormo

    Enormo BoltTalker

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    Any conclusion about LT right now is premature. One year with injuries, collapse of the team in general, an decreased carries tells us nothing about the player.

    Norv has to pull his head out and find out if he still has a weapon in LT.
     

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