Chargers Go 1-0, But Just Barely

BOLTHYPE blogger Jeff Williams has some doubts about the Chargers Super Bowl chances this year. Is he being too reactionary, or does history show us that Jeff has legitimate cause for concern?

(Photo Credit: Mike Nowak/San Diego Chargers)

The year is 2007, with the Chargers coming off a bitter playoff loss to the New England Patriots. The Chargers enter a new season with a new head coach and a new defensive coordinator, and hopes of finally going all the way. The Chargers start the season with a close game against Chicago, winning by a score of 14-3 (a game much closer than the score implied), before losing the next three in a row. At 1-3, the Chargers were off to a slow and disappointing start, but eventually made the playoffs...but no Super Bowl.

Fast forward to 2008. The Chargers start the season with back-to-back heartbreakers, losing to Carolina and Denver in the closing minutes of each game. They eventually went 2-2, and then 4-8, before finally squeaking into the playoffs. Again, no Super Bowl.

Now, in 2009, the Chargers begin the season 1-0, winning a game they had every right to lose. Overall the Raiders' running game looked better, their defense looked better, and were it not for the silver and black joker behind center, the Chargers would likely be sitting at 0-1. Next up are three-straight games against 2008 playoffs teams, two of which beat us last year.

I bring this up because I have this sense of deja vu that I can't seem to shake. Normally a 1-0 start is not something you should gripe about, yet Chargers fans sure feel like griping. My problem is that we have seen this before. Slow starts, lackluster efforts and disappointing losses have plagued us the previous two seasons, and if game 1 this season is any indication, we're in for more of the same. In 2007 and 2008 we heard every excuse in the back for why the Chargers seemed to be starting so slowly (something I call slow-starteritis). Maybe there is no more room for excuses. Maybe it's time for the team to start playing for the postseason in September, rather

The good news? The Chargers will once again find a way to win the division and reach the playoffs. The bad news? This team will not be going to the Super Bowl.

Some may call me negative, some may call this prediction a bit premature, but all I have to go by is history. And if history is destined to repeat itself, it sure seems to be following a familiar timeline.

Don't think I'm giving up on the team, and don't think that I have lost all hope in a Super Bowl dream. The next 3 games will tell us a lot about this team, but even losses to any or all of these teams doesn't automatically eliminate us from post-season contention. Last year's 8-8 team proved to us that anything can happen. In fact, last year's Super Bowl champs had a losing record against playoff teams in the regular season and seemed to do alright when it counted the most. So again, anything happen. Let's hope that anything that happens to the Chargers includes some major improvement on the field.

September 17, 2009

Join our team:


Anonymous said... Sep 17, 2009, 12:37:00 PM

Oh-oh, somebody must have left the door to the Fan Cave open, because I just felt a breeze, a rush of fresh..., Reality.
Our beloved Chargers (2009 edition) do seem to be missing a certain "something", again. They are still definitely a very talented team this year, but I often think I see some less-than-spirited play (and play calling); and that really worries me.
What do I think is missing? In street vernacular G-A-M-E; that hard to define yet easy to see hard-nosed, cornered cat attitude that combines athletic ability with lightning fast intellect to make for a superior split-second performer. Remember Dennis Rodman playing defense in the NBA, or Buster Douglas knocking the junk out of Mike Tyson? Or even little Boise State besting Oklahoma in the '07 Fiesta Bowl? In each case, "game" won the day. "Game" is commitment to confidence in a better idea, an adaptation played all-out on a deeply personal level, giving it “all you’ve got” each and every moment; not only taking responsibility, but OWNING it.
The opposite of “Game” is what was displayed by Cromartie and Hart in the Chargers secondary as they gave up that late touchdown on 4th-and-fourteen! Wha…?! How? Really guys; HOW?!?

Anonymous said... Sep 17, 2009, 3:27:00 PM

lets´see jeff,

the two past years were extremely difficult for the charger fans, cause as u remarked we had ups and downs all season long but i really can´t believe that after a win (a very difficult one) u start to be negative about the team!!! of course we didnt look good, but we managed to win and that was the most important thing! if u know something about football, u should know that the first game is one the toughest ones! and if u add that it was a monday night against a division rival! and let me remark a desperate team trying to avoid a record loosing streak it gets much more tougher! unlike u! i dont see a deja vu all over again! because we managed to win a very tough game and thats what matters, now we have to focus in beating the ravens and i think we will and i think will be a big dissapointment this year.
if u want to talk about the problems u saw in the game against the raiders fine, but dont bring to the table this kinf of bad commnets about the team just when the season started and we have ahead two home games my friend!! and pittsburgh without polamalu!

p.d i conquer with the comment before this one that we have a TERRIBLE PLAY CALLER! (NORV) and thats our biggest weakness but we have enough talent to overcome this! its just matter of get rolling and we´ll get better as the season advances

Anonymous said... Sep 17, 2009, 3:29:00 PM

the dissapointment i was talking about is MIAMI

Anonymous said... Sep 17, 2009, 3:38:00 PM

This is an eight and eight team in training. Not to say they can't get better (or worse) but that's the baseline case. Same perennial problems -- soft up the middle on defense; Clinton Hart cannot play competent safety; Cromartie is subject to mental lapses that suggest incipient dementia; and can anyone cover a tight end. On offense, Schottenheimer's physical team has morphed in this finesse bunch. That' probably OK; but Norv still has delusions that this is a "running" football team. This should be pass to set up the run team in my non-expert opinion

Anonymous said... Sep 17, 2009, 6:18:00 PM

I think Norv is trying to outwit the league these days with his comments. He is trying to be too positive about players, performance and practice.

Next week will really show us a lot. Did the Chargers play that bad or were the Raiders that good. If the Raiders lose to KC and we get beat by Baltimore, we will have our answer. If we win and play solid for 4 qtrs in all 3 phases, and if Raiders hold their own against KC, we should be in good shape.

I hope it is the latter. Trust me, I have some reservations after the first game.

Anonymous said... Sep 17, 2009, 7:11:00 PM

Salutations, Anonymous;
Let’s be clear, it’s been “extremely difficult” for Charger fans for FAR longer than “the last two years”. They are currently in a relatively Great Place, are undefeated and won their division again last year; retaining a boatload of exciting players on their roster. I’ve been a Charger fan since their first game in Balboa stadium, and I’ve enjoyed some epic games, great coaches, and amazing players here (too many to list), as well as the opposite extremes (too many to list), which have resulted in 1 AFL Championship and 1 Super Bowl appearance in 49 years. So I can’t help but include that ratio and all that history into my opinions when talking about this franchise, for better or worse.
So I resent being accused of being “negative” about the ‘09 team when I prefaced my remarks with “they are still definitely a very talented team this year” before listing my observations.
Meanwhile, if the game was “difficult”, so what?! It’s supposed to be; and I assume it’s equally difficult for both teams. That’s why the NFL insists they use the same field, change sides, toss a coin, split home games, and make sure both teams have equal amounts of players on the field each play? And wasn’t it Monday night for BOTH teams; and the first game of the year for BOTH teams? Teams who surely were already aware that they’ve been Division rivals now for nearly half a century?! C’mon now…, get real.
Beyond that, all things being equal, of course I’m happy the Chargers won; and being “lucky” is a valid aspect of the game. But I nevertheless recognize that they looked bad doing it (especially the Defense) and, in my opinion, didn’t play up to either their potential OR hype (and apparently I’m not alone, or they would’ve covered the spread). So the Chargers not playing to their maximum potential is what worries me, especially if I perceive players being beat physically and (worse) being too stupid or lazy to win by trying “all out”, every play. I thought I saw some of that on Monday night, and said so, and my comments WERE limited only to the Monday night game. So I also called on them to show more internal fire and fortitude, more “want to” (especially on Defense), and especially that “cornered cat” Toughness and mental preparedness. Can YOU explain the defensive antics by Cromartie and Hart on the Raiders last touchdown at 4th and 14? I can’t, but if you can “bring that to the table” I’d be glad to hear you out. Please…, explain.
Finally, please know I AM a Charger fan, but last I checked it did not require me to be blind, deaf, and dumb to be so. Go Bolts!!!


Jeff Williams said... Sep 17, 2009, 9:25:00 PM

Well said Jeff. I'm tired of settling for luck. I'm ready for that "most talented roster in the NFL" to finally prove it. Will I take 1-0 at this point, rather than the alternative? Absolutely. Does that make me feel better going into a game against a more physical and less injured team? No way. Trust me, I'm hoping they get their act together sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said... Sep 18, 2009, 9:11:00 AM

anonymous talking here

ok jeff i conquer in some of the things that u said, but what i was trying to say is that in this game we managed to win despite having an injured o-line,a very tough crowd cheering against, a very bad field position on the last drive and i have to mention it, without LT.
in the past two seasons, this kind of games were the ones that we dropped!
to start the season winning a close one even though this game was no supposed to be a close is big, now as some other guy said we have a real test vs baltimore, on sunday we'll see if this team has the intensity that we demand from them or if they don´t have the toughness required.

i never tried to offend u,you have valid points in your article and i was trying to remark some good things without disqualifying the bad ones. we are all charger fans!! so lets hope for a better game next sunday.

all the best

go bolts!!!!

Anonymous said... Sep 18, 2009, 10:45:00 AM

Overall, Monday night's effort was disappointing. Dressing only 7 offensive linemen, drawing a lot more penalties than the Raiders, and still failing to cover a tight end are among the mistakes that fall on the coaching staff.

That said, Norv Turner is still the fastest coach in Chargers history to reach 3 playoff wins, and there were a few reasons to be encouraged. Foremost is winning a game in which the opponent outplayed you. Watching the Chargers, one becomes accustomed to watching them lose games in which they outplayed an opponent (think weeks 1-2 last year, Div. Rd. loss to the Patriots, most of 2005, etc).

The ability to manufacture an undeserved win is something you find in winners. As much as it pains me to say it, look at what the Patriots did earlier Monday. They had no business winning and yet they still did.

I'll take that any day over a hard fought, but ultimately unlucky, loss. In '05, Drew Brees' last year in Bolts, the wins were blowouts, and the losses were 2-3 pt heartbreakers. Result-- 9W-7L and no playoffs. The poor Bengals should have beaten the Broncos Sunday, but they manufacture losses because they make bad luck for themselves. They don't know how to win with a last-minute lead, nor does Buffalo. The Chargers have historically had trouble with them.

I honestly think that enough of the Chargers are personally tired of losing, and we will see more manufactured wins than manufactured losses. Of course we all would like to expect the Chargers to outplay the opponent every week and rightfully win. The real world tells us that bad days will happen, and how those bad days are dealt with will determine the outcome.


Anonymous said... Sep 18, 2009, 3:27:00 PM

Salutations again;

Ha,ha,ha, ha, hilarious..., the jokes on me. I just realized I answered a post intended toward someone else with the same first name. Duh! But because I don't sign my name (I'm in the Witless Protection Program) I jumped to a wrong conclusion. My bad; but I'll give my two-cents worth anyway:
While I’m glad you concur (not “conquer”) about some of what was said, and you are right in noting the tough field position to start the winning drive and the injuries in our O-line (although I thought the play of Dombrowski and Mruczkowski was the MOST encouraging part of the game); I don’t think (sorry to say) LT’s absence or the hostile Oakland crowd had much influence on that game. They got it in, the hard way, as time ran out and won the game - period. There’s no denying our Chargers credit for that.
My previous comments (and continued questioning) are mostly in regard to our worrisome Defense, which (in my opinion) gave a substandard performance; even with Oakland starting the absolutely worst QB in the NFL. I’m STILL waiting for someone to explain the actions of Cromartie and Hart in giving up that touchdown on 4th and 14?! I mean, HOW (please, someone…, anyone, enlighten me) can Cromartie and Hart not know before the snap what the down, distance, time, and PRIORITY was on that play (and Cro breaking his coverage off to the short pass, and then pointing at Hart before the pass even gets to the receiver?!)?! Good Lord, can Cro dress himself and eat unattended? Does he suffer from ADD and see a tractor tire on the sideline? What?! How such a great athlete can squander his talent so routinely, so foolishly, is just stupefying. In my mind, he’s the “poster child” for the Chargers 2009 Defense: Definitely Talented; but no surprise that he idolizes a bogus Deion Sanders and can match every great play he’s made with one he’s been completely asleep on.
It worries me; I’m just sayin’.
In my opinion what separates the truly great football players from the also-rans (in a highly-talented pool that makes up the whole league) is MENTAL quickness. Determination and toughness can be compromised by injury and fatigue, but toughness and quickness of mind is something only the player can seek out and truly OWN. Ryan Leaf never had it (not even for a second), and Rivers and Brees showed it early, even as subs; Flutie had it too even though he physically shouldn’t have been on the field, and Volek shows great signs too. It’s easy to spot if you look for it, and not just quarterbacks. Look at Sproles, Applewhite, Osgood, Dielman, Jammer (who played great!), Nwagbuo, Cooper, and Binn. Those are the kind of hard-working, never-say-die MEN you NEED to have a solid team; whether they start or not or whether they are “stars” or not (and I could have listed a few notables try-hard guys too; McNeill, Dobbins, Spillman, Burnett). So if I was in charge of the Chargers today, I’d have promoted Cason to start at CB by Tuesday morning and have Cromartie return kicks instead of ultra-valuable Sproles. Get the message? And Hart would have had a heart-to-heart in the Head Coaches office too, or else. And Ellison would get more reps now too.
Meanwhile, please know that your comments didn’t offend me at all; in fact I welcome them and any other reasonable responses. I also definitely believe ALL Charger fans should be able to use this great site, and believe that a cross-section of insightful opinions here is this sites BEST feature. I’m not God or any kind of Ultra-expert, so please feel free to disagree or take me to task any time; Giant Baby Jesus and I will try to get back to you as soon as we can.

Go Bolts!!! - Jeff M.

Anonymous said... Sep 19, 2009, 3:09:00 AM

Jeff M--

The way I saw the 4th and 14 meltdown, Cromartie had zone coverage at the sticks, sideline to numbers. He saw the receiver break inside so he broke forward to help the LB trailing the underneath receiver. In retrospect, not the best choice, but justifiable given the assignment. Hart forgot that he is a safety and found himself too close to the line of scrimmage to catch up to Skeletor's Speedster. If the receiver goes in along the sideline, it's Cromartie's fault-- over the middle, like it was, and it's all on Hart. That play and Zach Miller's last several games against San Diego suggest that Hart and Gregory are no answer at strong safety and are wasting roster spots. How many ineffective safeties do you need when you only have seven activated O-linemen? Unless Ellison gets significant reps, I can see Todd Heap putting up big numbers this weekend, too. Sliding Cromartie to nickel/returns might be a pretty good idea while LT recovers (get well soon, but don't rush it!) and Sproles is likely to see more carries. Cason is certainly capable of covering Baltimore's receivers. What worries me is if anyone (Hart, Gregory, Weddle, Burnett, Ellison, Spillman) can cover a tight end.


Anonymous said... Sep 19, 2009, 6:54:00 AM

Thanks for the explanation JT, even if I remember it slightly different. Bottom line, I don't have the play Tivo'd or DVR'd so what stands out in my mind the most is the horror of watching Hart and Cromartie pointing at each other and jogging even as the ball flutters into the hands of the Raider receiver for a touchdown. Just awful...
Now that my involuntary shudder is over, I must say I agree with most of what you said, and I'm boggle-minded that (again!) a tight-end can't be jammed or smothered easily on 4th and 14, but is instead left all ALONE in the end zone?! I know, I know..., I'm being redundant.
You're right, Hart is awful and has made more than enough errors to merit his exit from the starting spot, but I just can't get over that ONE play..., 4th and 14 yards, with the worst QB in the league due to throw, and a receiver (ANY reciever) is left virtually alone at the end zone line?! Not even man-for-man coverage despite two obvious possible options? I know you've tried to answer my question (for which I'm grateful), but I'd love to talk to the cornbacks coach about that particular play.
There is something DRASTICALLY wrong with the 2009 Chargers secondary (see late score in pre-season game at Atlanta, and the late score in the Raider game, which counted) again this year, at least so far; despite Jammer playing as good as anyone ever has.
How can this be?! Okay, I know..., I'm looping again; so I'll stop. Must..., con-trol..., pound-ing... fist.

Anonymous said... Sep 19, 2009, 2:25:00 PM

Did anyone notice that these problems with slow starts began with Norv Turner. One of the strengths of the 2006 team coached by Marty was its ability to get an early lead. Norv's teams are slow starters, unmotivated performers, and aren't very tough. Marty's teams were the opposite. The teams reflect their coaching and Norv's teams are soft, talented but soft. Do you think Marty would have allowed what happened on Monday against the RAIDERS!!! Hell no!!! Let's face it, if we hadn't fired Marty and dumped Drew Brees we would have a super bowl already!!! For as many things as A.J. has done right, he has done a bunch wrong.

Also the bolts looked bad on Monday. If Russell could hit an open receiver, they would have won. I know this team is capable of more but is Norv capable of finding it? I don't think he is, meaning that all this talent is being wasted!!!

Jeff Williams said... Sep 19, 2009, 2:32:00 PM

To add to the fun, Jamal Williams is now out...for the season! Son of a bee-atch!

Anonymous said... Sep 20, 2009, 7:38:00 AM

Jamal Williams is gone for the year, and HE (sorry, Merriman fans) is the most important cog in all of the Chargers defense. Jamal's loss is a huge blow; both practically and psychologically for this team. Now we will all see, for real and finally, what the rest of the D-line and our less-than-intimidating defense up the middle can really do.
Health-wise, Godspeed to the great Jamal Williams in hopes he may want to resume his career; but this looks really bad.
The Chargers must COWBOY UP from here on; Show Some (Nut) Sack; or else. And that gets back to leadership and coaching, as well as that tired nugget I've been beating on lately, that fiery desire to..., no, that INSISTANCE to be first, hardest, meanest and smartest to each and every point of contact on every single play; every time! THAT’S what football really is!! And like others here, I also have strong reservations about that kind of leadership coming from Norv; the common perception being that he’s a finesse guy. Maybe that’s true, and his overall record would seem to indicate that perhaps. Ol’ Marty was much more prone to fiery, but always came unraveled during the playoffs (and later, in seasonal games too), and Ross just flat out challenged his players manhood and commitment face-to-face during their famous flight home one night after a loss.
Is anyone here old enough at this site to remember seeing and hearing a “live” Vince Lombardi pacing the sidelines in Green Bay? Now THAT man was both a field general and an A-1 motivator, and there was absolutely NO doubt he was in charge or who the “go to” guy was. Yet the great Packer teams of that era were both finesse AND power teams, highly successful and quietly ultra-confident. I can’t imagine Norv (just the name, for cryin’ out loud) conjuring up images of Lombardi, but he and his staff must challenge their charges as MEN, as Professionals; and do it TODAY. The childish ways of childish times (are you listening Cromartie, Hart, Merriman, Phillips) are officially over here forever - shape up or ship out, come back with your shield; or ON IT.
I predict that my Chargers will shock the world, winning by MORE than 10 points.
Go Bolts!!!!

Anonymous said... Sep 20, 2009, 8:17:00 AM

After reading all these posts of what should be,lets talk abit of what is!
What is?
Bolts are soft on both the OL and DL with exception of Merriman and Castillo,so expect a huge dose of Rice and Magahee, Flaaco will have a ton of time to hit recievers throughout the the game if the Chargers don't change some of the secondary schemes and add more blitz packges.
On OFF. if they can't move the rock on the ground,P.Rivers is going to have the longest day of his life against R.Lewis and Co.this Ravens DEF. is IMO the the fastest,hardest hitting DEF. in the NFL and if they could'nt handle the lesser DEF. of the Raiders they sure have their work cut out against Baltimore.
Lets face it,what we had last season(8-8)is what we have this season,except with an easier schedule,the defensive backfield will be the Chargers undoing.
The Chargers will make the post season,not becuase of talent but becuase of a soft schedule,the truth is painful,but it is what it is.


Post a Comment

What's your take? Registration is not required but we encourage you guys to at least use some sort of screen name to help identify one another in discussions. Use Name/URL If You Don't Sign In Please!


Newer Post Older Post Home Page

This Week's Popular Posts


  Pro Football Talk

  USA Today

  San Diego Union - Tribune

  Yahoo! Sports

  ESPN - AFC West

  FOX Sports