Is Winning The AFC West A Significant Accomplishment?

It was easy to deny after tough road losses to the Chiefs, Seahawks and Raiders, but after losing to the St. Louis Rams and their rookie quarterback on Sunday, the situation has become clear: the Chargers are not Super Bowl contenders.

It had to happen some time.

San Diego has won the AFC West five out of the last six years, but what has it gotten them? At no point during this run has the team showed the mentality of a Super Bowl winner. Whether it has been the constant turmoil in the front office or inconsistent coaching philosophies, the Chargers have shown that they lack the details to win championships.

But there is plenty of blame to go around.

The Spanos family has shown the willingness to spend money when it was the logical step by giving out large contracts to key players, but will continue to be criticized for those they leave in charge of the team.

AJ Smith was once touted as the best General Manager in the NFL but has failed to produce a productive player out of his last few drafts. While there is an argument to be made for regression to the mean, a team that does not receive a strong influx of talent in consecutive years is in grave danger of failing. Also, his pure inability to clearly communicate with players and coaches in the organization has been legendary. Many players will tell candid stories of passing Smith in hallways without so much as a word coming out of his mouth. In an interview during his client’s holdout, Vincent Jackson’s agent said he had not even been contacted by Smith to resolve the situation by any means. It seems Smith is more set on controlling than leading this franchise.

Norv Turner is underwhelming yet again, but this time he may actually pay the ultimate price. After taking Marty Schottenheimer’s team to an 11-5 record in 2007 and making it to the AFC Championship game, Turner has seen his playoff games per year drop from three to two and finally down to a first game knockout last season. He has shown an inability to prepare his team for a very easy schedule the first six weeks of this season, and lacked the killer instinct against weak opponents – the four Chargers losses have come to teams with a combined 15-49 record in 2009.

What has become an annual struggle for the Chargers in the first six weeks of the season only accentuates the difference between Turner and the class of NFL coaching. Norv has an 11-13 record as the head coach of the Chargers in the first six games of the season. When you compare that to two of the top coaches in the NFL Bill Belichick and Andy Reid – 19-5 and 13-11 respectively over that same span – Turner does not quite stack up. (As another side note, Reid and Belichick are a combined 18-0 when coming of bye weeks in their head coaching careers) Even the major fumbling problems the Chargers have had this season eventually have to fall on the coaching staff. If one player has a fumbling problem there is a good chance that he is what’s wrong, but when it’s an entire team messing up it may just be improper technique being taught from the beginning.

While things look bleak for the Chargers this season there is still a very real chance they will win the West. Kansas City is loaded with talent and Denver has shown a dominant passing attack, but neither is built to win over the course of a season. But what will another banner hanging at Qualcomm mean when the team is watching the Super Bowl from their couches.

I’ll leave you with one final thought: Do not buy into the stat that San Diego has the first ranked offense and fourth ranked defense. Sure, the Chargers may have out gained their opponents by more than 1,000 yards on the season, but it’s all for not when coaching mistakes and mental errors are costing the team games. After all, the 1-4 Dallas Cowboys currently have the top ranked defense in the league and had one of the highest-ranking offenses before a pitiful showing against the Vikings in Week 6 – a true example of leading the league in mental errors.

October 22, 2010

Join our team:


arnie said... Oct 22, 2010, 9:23:00 AM

Look i know i've been hard on the Chargers, but frankly they earned it. A high standard of play was set for this team, by this team and the fans expectations followed. We know what a dominate Defense looks like. We know what a "high powered" passing attack looks like. We even know what a " you can't stop it" running game looks like. In recent season's ( the last three really) this team has only been consistently, getting worse. They are simply not playing at the level most believe they are capable of. I've heard PR talk about it all the time, "We're not as good as we want to be right now..." my response, what are waiting for?

Now to answer the question, winning the AFC West isn't enough. just "getting to the playoffs" is what got the former coach canned (sorta'). i still hear AJ and the owners chant, " Just get to the playoffs, and it's anybody's game." No i disagree. strongly. Case in point last years Champions. They are on record as saying " we're two or three players away from getting where we want to be". they got their players and a lombardi to go with it. This is not a philosophy that is embraced here, and it shows.

Now the bright side, i think this team has turned the corner. for the first time, to my knowledge, AJ and Norv have run out of excuses, to put a positive spin on things, and have squarely excepted the blame for the teams woes. no more calling out players, no more ignoring the glaring weaknesses of the team or the coaching. they just came out right and manned up. Why is that a positive? because we always talk about players need to execute, players need to step up, players this and players that, but we forget players don't decide who stays on the roster and who goes. players don't decide who gets a BIG contract and who doesn't. most importantly players don't call the plays or design them.

So what's left, the two people that needed to man-up, did. and to a player that's music to their ears. Why? Because now the blame is being "equally shared" from the top down, like it should, because that's where wining starts, at the top. Now, just maybe now things will be looked at differently.

peace out

Rob Zepeda said... Oct 22, 2010, 9:53:00 AM

Arnie, thanks for the consistently thoughtful comments...we appreciate them!

Anonymous said... Oct 22, 2010, 10:55:00 AM

Is winning the AFC West a significant accomplishment?

Yes. Especially for this Charger team that does not have the talent that it once had.

I'm still heated that we wasted multiple draft picks, trying to replace LT with Ryan Mathews. The fact that AJ Smith thought he could easily replace the greatest of all Chargers with a rookie is a stunning lack of vision. The fact that AJ Smith though Norv Turner would be a good coach is a ridiculous lack of vision. The fact that AJ wasted the 4th pick on Philip Rivers when we had Drew Brees is astounding.

Philip Rivers and Ryan Mathews are great and good respectively. But AJ threw away our hopes to win a SuperBowl with those 3 moves that destroyed the leadership and chemistry of the Chargers. Now, we are not a contender, and our only hope is to win the AFC West after another bungling Norv Turner start.

In years past, we could overcome the bad starts since we had so much talent. But now, AJ ran lots of our great talent out of town and we're left with a shell of a team that has a grip of undrafted talent.

What needs to happen is AJ and Norv need to be run out of town.

Go Chargers!


Mark said... Oct 22, 2010, 11:37:00 AM

Any coach or player who thinks that winning an AFC West Championship is a virtuous accolade needs to get their head examined. I thought the players and coaches strived for Loambardi Trophies not, cheesy accomplishments of AFC West dominace- which is not much considering how weak the AFC West has been the last 15+ years!! And the Chargers DO prove in the playoffs time and time again just how WEAK the AFC West IS!
I hope they can prove me wrong this year...........

Mark said... Oct 22, 2010, 11:45:00 AM

A correction to my previous post-"Any coach or player who thinks that winning an AFC West Championship is a virtuous accolade needs to get their head examined. "


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