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Turn out the lights; the party is over

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    By Curtis Egan
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    <a href="http://media.signonsandiego.com/img/photos/2008/11/16/SMHchargers292350x0017_t600.jpg?42b0fb247f69dabe2ae440581a34634cbc5420f3"><img class="alignright" title="L.T. leaves the field with Nick Hardwick and Stephen Cooper. SEAN M. HAFFEY / Union-Tribune" src="http://media.signonsandiego.com/img/photos/2008/11/16/SMHchargers292350x0017_t600.jpg?42b0fb247f69dabe2ae440581a34634cbc5420f3" alt="" width="332" height="227" /></a>First of all let me start by saying I am a die hard Charger fan, but this season has seen me die more than most. That said, lets get to the brass tacks of the matter. The Chargers have not played well this season, and that might be an understatement.

    They have allowed opposing teams to run more plays than any other team in the NFL this season. There is not just one reason for this, there are a plethora of reasons, none that will make the fans, management, players, trainers, water boys or cheerleaders any happier.

    In the NFL or any team sport from Pop Warner to the big leagues, winning is rarely an accident. Winning is a culture, a mind set. A do or die determination to impose your will on the other team and rise up as the victor in the end. For many season, that culture, that very mindset was part of the San Diego Chargers mind set.

    This team came from behind in many games. Back to back games, setting an NFL record when they fought back against the Benglas, one week after doing the same with the Broncos. This team beat a physical Tennessee Titans team, not once but twice last season after being man handled by their huge defensive line for the first half of the games. The Chargers had mental toughness, a never quite attitude.

    Some will say that was instilled by Marty Shottenheimer when he was with the Chargers. Others will say the players looked each other in the eyes and knew what they had to do. Some will even go so far as to say it was the fan's chants of "YOU CANT RUN" echoing through the Q that got it going. Fact is there is probably a nugget of truth to all of it, and more that we as fans cant even perceive.

    The one harsh truth to all of this is that the 2008 San Diego Chargers have lost that mind set. They have lost the mental toughness, the mind set that they own what ever field they ‘click-clack' out onto. To me it is a plain and simple truth, one that is as hard to swallow as it is to type out. The Chargers have lost not only their edge but their will.

    In the aforementioned Titan's games last season we played smash mouth, sock you so hard your grandma cries football. We ran the ball, ran the ball and ran it some more until the mammoth Titan's defensive line could hardly stand up for three downs. This season, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the play calling, there is certainly no consistency or attempt to impose our will on the opposition. Why is that?

    There are again a plethora of reasons. Injuries, Bad referee calls, poor game planning, loss of seasoned veterans in the off season, a funk in the locker room, fans not wearing enough paint, daddy not saying he loved you- What have you pick any one and I will tell you it is just an excuse. Other teams are fighting through injuries and winning. Other teams lost seasoned veterans and are winning. The list goes on and one.

    My friends it is the mind set, the testicular fortitude if you will. The Chargers no longer believe they will win, and that means at the earliest excuse they will not win.

    The truly frustrating thing is that this team COULD do it all. Even without Merriman, they have the talent, the strength and the ability. The only thing missing is spirit. Watch the Chargers against the Steelers. Look into the eyes of the defensive players as Ben Roethlisberger makes pass after pass for first downs and the tight end comes open underneath play after play. On the last drive the Chargers were a beaten team. The offense on the sidelines looked dumbfounded. They should.

    They played a poor game to a man. I loved seeing LaDainian Tomlinson making some good runs for more than five yards, that has sorely been missing this season. I loved seeing Jeromey Clary fighting out there like he was playing for his season and job. I love seeing Mad man Malcom Floyd getting involved and catching everything thrown his way.

    I hated seeing Philip Rivers lack of control on his passes. Rivers who started the season out on fire is now in what I would classify as a three game slump. Normally reliable, he has repeatedly through the last three games made poor decisions, had difficulties managing the clock, and showed a lack of urgency when getting to the line and getting a play off.

    As for the defense, where do you start. While it was good to see some physical sacks against Pittsburgh, you have to get those against a QB who has been sacked over thirty times this season. They still show an inability to defend the pass, stop the opposition (without allowing them to score point) and get off the field.

    At this point Charger fans should steady themselves. 6-10 is a strong possibility. There is no doubt this off season will see changes. The current window of opportunity is slamming shut. LT is not getting any younger and the last two off seasons he has been talking candidly about retirement. The Defensive line is aging rapidly and Big Jamal Williams will not have many seasons left on those knees. The Offensive line is aging as well. Contracts are running their course and soon the Chargers will be forced to decide which players to keep and which players to let go.

    Is it the end. Nope. Every off season sees new windows. Will they open, are they painted shut. Are the opaque or clear? Questions that like the Chargers opportunities can only be answered in the future.

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