Longtime San Diego newsman Nick Canepa seems to have a good rapport with Chargers GM AJ Smith. I while I don't know the extent of their relationship per se, I've noticed that Canepa seems to enjoy good access to the Chargers boss. Canepa puts together excellent pieces detailing their conversations, and his latest chat with Smith has been enlightening. Canepa asked Smith to shed light on the recent firing of defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell; After all, Teddy came to San Diego with a resume that included AJ Smith's at the top of his references.
Smith also shed light on his disapproval of the way the team has played through the first half of the season. Smith felt the players were beginning to lose faith in the system, and he noticed the fire inside was fading fast. So a move had to be made - a spark needed to be set:
“I think there's fight left,” Smith says. “I know Shawne Merriman is missed; a terrific player, a great player, is missing. But you move on. Go! I don't think the players believed in our way of attacking and a lot of us were unhappy with the (defensive) game plans. Something was very wrong, and the Chargers organization reacted to it. This issue was building – building. The head coach was not happy with the direction of the defense and neither was I.
“But the players have to be held accountable. The players are on notice. Some of you may lose your jobs, or maybe you'll alternate, or maybe you won't be here next year. You're a Charger one year at a time. There are some prideful guys here. Let's make a run at this thing. We're still within striking distance of a title.”
As great an architect that Smith has been, his blueprint hasn't been without suspect design. For one, his decision to re-do Clinton Hart's contract and to not draft a safety has backfired. Both Clinton Hart and Eric Weddle have struggled this year and there is no one on the depth chart to push them.
The Chargers also forfeited the opportunity to select a defensive lineman in the draft; Jamal Williams had a slow start to the season, Igor Olshanksy is having a down season as he inches closer towards free agency, and Luis Castillo is not playing up to expectations following his new contract.
If promoting Ron Rivera to Defensive Coordinator proves to be brilliant move (which is the expectation both here at BoltHype and among fans), then the story will be different. But heading into the season, BoltHype consistently identified the need for a defensive lineman, a running back, and a safety and so far those three positions have struggled mightily.
Read: A.J. Smith: Chargers were at breaking point