As Bolts fans around the country collectively throw their hands up in frustration over the countless mistakes that this team has made during the course of the season’s first seven games, it makes more sense to analyze the issues rather than consider this year a lost cause. In some shape or form, it would also be helpful to perhaps figure out just why these problems have been repetitive issues rather than anomalies as they are on occasion with some of the league’s elite teams.
The easiest place to begin with that is simply to say that fans may need to readjust their expectations for this team moving forward. Maybe this club isn’t the Super Bowl favorite, can’t miss, most talented team in the league that several analysts proclaimed them to be over the past two or three seasons.
Talented teams generally also have a sense of discipline and an ability to come through in the clutch. For the Bolts, any form of the words ‘discipline’ or ‘clutch’ are fairly laughable at this point considering the amount of penalties, turnovers, and opportunities that San Diego has squandered away already in 2010.
Sunday’s week 7 contest with the New England Patriots was just another highlight (or lowlight) reel for these follies on display. The Bolts turned the ball over an unthinkable four times within eleven minutes of game time from the middle of the first quarter to early on in quarter two. The bevy of mistakes included a Vincent Jackson-esque catch and fumble by Richard Goodman when he made a brilliant diving grab over the middle, was not touched down by a defender, and left the ball on the ground unattended for a Patriots to scoop up so that he could do some showboating instead of picking up extra yards. That was quickly followed by a football 101 mistake when Philip Rivers threw a screen pass intended for Jacob Hester that fell to the ground incomplete, but had traveled backward from the line of scrimmage rendering it a live ball.
Each of these issues are separate entities, but they all come down to preparation, coaching, and discipline in the grand scheme of things. Preferring to celebrate a catch rather than secure the ball and gain more yardage or quitting on a borderline pass that could potentially be a fumble are cardinal sins that championship caliber teams do not commit.
Yet just as it was beginning to become difficult to find the correct verbiage to explain just how disorganized and amateurish the Chargers looked on the field after three quarters, this team somehow found a way to mount a furious comeback and nearly pull the iron out of the fire. This resiliency shows that there is definitely a great deal of pride on this team amongst its players and that they still have a collective belief in one another, but the players are handicapped by poor coaching and a lack of in-house discipline.
Calling for the firing of the man in charge is generally counterproductive, but General Manager A.J. Smith hand picked his puppet in Norv Turner after firing Marty Schottenheimer following a 14-2 season in 2006. Smith has been pulling the strings above his marionette for the last four years, but Turner’s lifeless approach has left this team similarly uninspired lacking any sort of intensity.
The mere fact that it was Smith’s decision hesitantly endorsed by the Spanos family to oust Schottenheimer in favor of a perennial underachiever in Turner means that the two are joined at the hip. Every good criminal needs an accomplice and Smith and Turner have been a present day version of Bonnie and Clyde stealing away the prime years of talented players’ careers during their tenures in San Diego.
As an unabashed supporter of Smith, this is difficult to say given his track record as a top notch talent evaluator and outstanding draft scout. With the slippery slope that this Chargers team appears to be sliding down, the snowball effect of this descent could include the jobs of both Turner and Smith if this team fails to rebound.
In climbing down off of the soapbox, what is the opinion of the fans? Does the accountability for the Bolts struggles begin at the top with the GM and Head Coach or are the players on the field solely at fault for the current set of circumstances? Is Turner’s demeanor the right personality type to take this team where it desires or is a change at the top necessary to reach that ultimate destination? Are the player personnel skills of A.J. Smith enough to justify him keeping his position as the team’s GM or does this team need a fresh approach in the front office to turn the corner as a franchise? Give your thoughts on this hot button issue below!
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