What's The Real Reason Tomlinson Didn't Produce Last Year


In April of 2001 when the San Diego Chargers selected LaDainian Tomlinson 5th overall in the NFL Draft, fans were instantly enthralled by the possibilities of what he could offer to the team’s offense. That captivation proved to be justified throughout LT’s decade long stint with the Bolts where he would amass a number of NFL records and become one of the league’s greatest running backs of all-time. When the team chose to cut ties with Tomlinson after the 2009 season allowing him to sign with a new club, the reaction was mostly positive after a significant dropoff in production to just 730 yards on the ground and a number of nagging injuries hindering his ability to explode like the LT of old.

Now with the New York Jets, Chargers fans have to be nauseous watching Tomlinson explode through holes and make cuts like the player from the mid 2000’s. Through just four games in a Jets uniform, LT has 341 yards or nearly half of his entire total for the 2009 season with the Bolts. As if the way he left San Diego wasn’t painful enough with some choice words about the players in the locker room and the organization itself, Bolts fans are now forced to ask themselves whether or not LT was sandbagging during his final season with the team.

Many will try to dispel this as a possibility by saying that Tomlinson’s offensive line in San Diego was nothing like the group in New York when in fact the Bolts line allowed only 26 sacks in 2009 which tied for the 6th lowest total in the league. Amazingly even a line that skilled at protecting the passer ranked last in yards per carry average at just 3.3 and second to the bottom in rushing yards with just 1,423 on the season. The Jets were the polar opposite in 2009 rushing for a league leading 2,756 yards and a sparkling 4.5 yards per carry.

Do these numbers reflect more on the caliber of the team’s offensive line or the effort level of the players carrying the football?

That is the crucial question when attempting to evaluate whether Tomlinson was actually going at full speed during his final season with the Chargers. Certainly there were moments when he showed flashes of the LT of old where he would make defenders miss before accelerating through a hole into the open field, but those were rare occurrences during his last season with the Bolts. Did injuries contribute to his lack of burst or did his age make it difficult to find the small creases that the Bolts offensive line was opening up at times? Absolutely, but the effort level from seasons past always masked any deficiencies from the team in terms of blocking.

What brought this piece to its creation was the fact that watching Tomlinson in New York this season really creates a sense of disappointment in him as an athlete. It is apparent that there is still some jump in those 31 year old legs and some drive to make some noise at that ancient age for running backs, but where were those characteristics last season? Call it bitter if you wish, but watching LT with the Jets take over the starting role from Shonn Greene in that backfield is just tough to deal with as both a Chargers fan and a diehard Tomlinson supporter.

To think that LT actually didn’t give one hundred percent effort during his final days in San Diego is just somewhat heartbreaking to the fan in me. He had all of those successful seasons in Qualcomm Stadium with the undying love of the fans in the stadium and as such a pillar in the community, why would he prefer to move on under those circumstances? Some mysteries are better left unsolved and this might qualify as one of those, but if Tomlinson does in fact go on to eclipse the 1,000 yard plateau this year and revitalize his career in New York, what does that say about the Bolts locker room and the offensive line in particular? Head Coach Norv Turner’s reduced role for Tomlinson in the Bolts offense definitely hurt his pride as an athlete, but could that all have been avoided with just a bit more desire from LT?

All of these questions and more are left for the fans to ponder, but it just doesn’t sit well to think that Tomlinson was giving anything less than his absolute maximum effort for the team in 2009.
Now it’s your turn, do you think LT’s decline in San Diego was self-inflicted or was the offensive line to blame for his drop in numbers? Did Norv Turner’s reduced role for Tomlinson make him more anxious to leave San Diego or was it inevitable that he and the Bolts would part ways? Perhaps the most poignant question is do you think that Tomlinson going at full speed during his final year in San Diego or given his performance to start the season in New York, do you believe he gave it less than one hundred percent at times during the 2009 campaign? Give your opinions below!

October 8, 2010

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25 comments:

Anonymous said... Oct 8, 2010, 8:50:00 AM

Plain and simple Blake. LT had the sense of entitlement no longer feeling like he had to earn his way around any more. He didn't have the fight inside of him and it was clearly apparent. Yes, LT has gone to the Jets and has found some success but he's not playing with the same attitude he has been playing with here in SD. First, look at LT, doesn't he look like a slimmer more in shape RB than he has in the past yrs? YES! Also, by trading an old vet is sometimes exactly what they need in their life. LT doesn't have that sense of being a king instead he's like ok, I better go prove myself or else I might be cut.

Let us remind you also that LT played the Tough, Hard Nose, Buffalo Bills when he had those decent numbers. Common don't tell me that we made a mistake.

Chargers new run game is absolutely devastating. Have you seen all of 5'9" 240lbs of Mike tolbert sending bone chilling blows to opposite defenders? How about our new RB Mathews, have you not seen him move piles and get 8yds were typically LT would have tripped and got about a yd and a half. Our run game guys is as exciting as it has ever been in YEARS. It's like have (about to go old school) Franco Harris (Tolbert), Jim Brown (mathews), Barry Sander (sproles). Now these are of course similes just show you the type of back.

None the less Charger fans the departure of LT was very much needed. Just be patient and watch Mathews and Co. run the ball it's absolutely devastating to opposing teams. Most of all Exciting to watch.

ManiCanToo

Anonymous said... Oct 8, 2010, 9:10:00 AM

i like the second part of what ....ManiCanToo said...
"Chargers new run game is absolutely devastating. Have you seen all of 5'9" 240lbs of Mike tolbert sending bone chilling blows to opposite defenders? How about our new RB Mathews, have you not seen him move piles and get 8yds were typically LT would have tripped and got about a yd and a half. Our run game guys is as exciting as it has ever been in YEARS."

drowningboy said... Oct 8, 2010, 9:19:00 AM

See who won!!!

http://slumwords.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/bolts-bend-raiders-over-again/

Anonymous said... Oct 8, 2010, 9:23:00 AM

Good for LT. He was great to us and it's great to see him have such great success with the Jets. With that said, our running game now is far superior to that than if we would have kept LT. Ryan Mathews is going to be a special player. The RB cast of him, Tolbert, and Sproles has to be one of the tops in the league. It might not show it because we have one of the best passing attacks but as the season progresses, I think this new cast (especially Ryan Mathews) will allow us to watch LT and not be distraught every time we see him scamper up the left side for 17 yards. Because in the end we know we've got some incredible talent in the back field for years to come.

Anonymous said... Oct 8, 2010, 9:57:00 AM

The Charger owners and GM's are more about the buisness aspect of the game, cutting cost too reap more profits. It is no wonder, high salary players production falls out a bit. Would you risk injury if you are set to make 6.5, 8 million the next season? It's happening right now. A prime ex. is RB, DAREN SPROLES,look at how this fucker isn't even taking punt returns with the same explosiveness as in the past. This is a huge problem through out the NFL. It's no wonder most some people state they rather watch college football.

Another possiblility that comes to mind it appears the Chargers alienated LT, by not continuing with the sucessful RB formula Schottenheimer schemed. Chargers we need to focus one game at a time and FINISH every play. It's so sad to see many of our great players leave our organization and find sucess else where. What does this say about our house?

Lighting 72



AJ smith ego, my way or the highway and Nov's puppet mentalality have hurt our team. It created a us vs them atmosphere.The core Charger players Rivers, McNeil,Gates, Jamer, Cooper have that Charger Character that has kept the fire burning. Management have to win the locker room to have a shot at the Superbowel. We a smart and modivational coach can get us to the next level...John Gruden comes to mind.

Anonymous said... Oct 8, 2010, 11:18:00 AM

I have the utmost respect for LT and his Wife for what they did in San Diego off the field.
I could sense a difference in LT's play on the field after he got hurt in the play-offs and then was critizised for the way he sat on the bench. He has said some things about what was "taken" from him by the Chargers in the way the game plans were developed. The last 2 years it seemed that LT went down at first contact. He is definatly in better shape this year playing for the Jets then he was for the last couple of years here. As for him being a leader I don't buy it. He was not a leader or he would have done something about the "bad" locker room he complained about AFTER the loss to the Jets. During that game on one play he had a wide open hole with nothing but green ahead when he whent down by a shoestring.......

Anonymous said... Oct 8, 2010, 11:48:00 AM

I loved LT a lot and still have his poster on my wall...but...

He recently admitted coming to the Jets and being motivated into a new training program in jersey was really what allowed him to condition himself into being able to perform the way he is. Along with the push of competing with Shon Greene as well as getting help from a run-block focused o line, youre going to perform at a high level--especially with someone's skill set such as LT's.

Our O line may have underperformed in a small way last year in run blocking but we had multiple injuries on the line as well throughout the year. Particularly, Hardwick at center. If you look closely at Norv Turner's infamous and predictable constant "run-it-up-the-middle" calls you can see how not having the pro bowl center there can effect the yardage of the aged runningback (Not to put down murkowski). And if you think about it, perhaps a trade was needed for the best of both sides. LT was pushed to show he's still got some gas left in the tank and the Bolts O-line was pushed to prove that they can run block proficiently. Plus with LT here and even if the Chargers still drafted Mathews (would've insulted him to compete for his job), I don't think Tolbert would've been given the chance to shine and be recognized as what I think of as the next coming of Michael Turner (maybe a little over the top but it just fits in my head). And if we're on this topic, I think next year we need to let sproles walk...for that cost we should resign Tolbert to a multi-year deal and get another change of pace back/kick returner in the mid rounds of the draft next year.

All in all, I hope LT retires here tho in the next few years. It would break my heart as well as many fans if he retired with the Jets...it was here where he was known for his time of greatness.

Anonymous said... Oct 8, 2010, 1:51:00 PM

He won't make it through half the season as the feature back.

Anonymous said... Oct 8, 2010, 8:20:00 PM

IT"S THE O-LINE. Plain and simple. Run-blocking and pass-blocking are very different, just because you're good at one doesn't translate into being good at the other, look at the Colts. The Jets are built to run the ball, they have hefty, hard-nosed run blockers on that line and at FB, the chargers don't. LT has lost a step and that's why he didn't produce as much here, the holes were smaller and closed up a lot faster here then they do now in NY. Saying LT didn't give it his all is blasphemous... and pretty stupid, the guy was playing for a contract and he knew it, not playing his heart out would be anti-LT and would only get him less money and less of a chance to play anywhere. Chalk it up to a better O-line and a run oriented team.

IronMountain said... Oct 8, 2010, 8:40:00 PM

Did you notice the lack of holes to run through last year? McNeill stunk, and the rest of the OL was mediocre at best. Dombroski is a big step up in run blocking at LT, and the rest of the OL has stepped it up a notch, that and the fact that LT had a bad foot all of last year, which made him drop off in his production.

Anonymous said... Oct 9, 2010, 12:20:00 PM

LT (along with Drew Brees and the GM) lifted the Chargers from perennial doormat to a team that consistently rank among the elite the past decade.

For that, I hold zero grudge no matter what he did last year and wish him nothing but the best.

One thing I definitely disagree with Mr Blake is that most of the Chargers fan must be feeling pretty damn good as opposed to nauseous. To say anything otherwise would be a disservice to our O-line, Mike Tolbert, Ryan Matthew, and Jacob Hester.

Our average rushing yard per game with the current group is significantly higher than LT's average through the past 4 games. Our rushing attack is the best it has been since 2007.

It's also the reason why we do not miss Vincent Jackson...because our rushing attack force the opponent to choose their poison and not be able to double up on Gates every down as they would prefer.

See Whisenhunt's comment on why Gate was so open on those two TD last week.

Elated, hopefully, happy, excited; those are the words that I can think off the top of my head when it comes to us trading LT. While I have all the respect for what he's done for our team, happy that he found a way to resurrect his career with the Jets, I would let him leave again if I'm the GM and can turn back the clock.

Stnick2006 said... Oct 9, 2010, 12:26:00 PM

Well, check your fire! There is also another way to relate to LT's performance indirectly without bringing San Diego into the mix, just compare Thomas Jones ability to run this year...

Certainly the JETS "O" line makes a HUGE difference int he RB's ability to carry the ball "PAST" the line of scrimmage. LT also has the ability to give a little room on the line due to his ability to play option to the QB as a receiver, another facet missing from the Jones equation. Lets' not forget LT ability to get around the outside too, awesome stuff!

But all in all, I think LT was mis-used in the offensive scheme there in SD which ironically has now concentrated a little more on it's running game.

We're (Fans) happy to have LT here and see a RB who runs with his head up and keeps his feet underneath himself all the time as opposed to the falling forward for 3.5 yards - Jones! I couldn't imagine ANY professional athlete being compensated millions for their work in laying down on the job... terrible idea, even in jest! Good Luck SD, but the JETS are rocking this year!
GO JETS!!!

Anonymous said... Oct 9, 2010, 9:29:00 PM

LT couldn't break tackles, he couldn't stop stumbling over his own feet, and I'm pretty damn sure he was about 10lbs overweight because he didn't have any burst.

IE: LT is listed at 215 this year, after being listed at 222-225 over the last 3 years.

Robb said... Oct 10, 2010, 6:05:00 AM

Fresh perpectives and new horizons are often necessary to breathe new life into any profession. Sad to see it happen to LT and the Chargers but once the conditions staled, LT's leaving was best for all. Unfortunately, given the state of the Chargers front office, we should expect to see a lot more to come. How the players continue to produce with such a disfunctional management nipping at their heals is beyond me.

jimshoez said... Oct 10, 2010, 10:08:00 AM

LT will always be LT but to see the success with the jets is a damn shame and very hard to watch

Anonymous said... Oct 11, 2010, 5:03:00 AM

1 yard per carry versus the raiders for Tolbert, definitely devastating (to my hopes of a championship)

arnie said... Oct 12, 2010, 1:12:00 PM

Plain and simple Lt has been banged up the last two seasons as a charger. Complaining that the Defenses were meeting him in the backfield, and he didn't have TE infront of him. That the Line wasn't opening up the holes. As i recall most of LT's yards came off the "edges", Michael Turner ran most of the carries "up the middle". With a lead blocker.

But what i find most interesting is LT's complaints "coming home to roost". in his second game as a charger Ryan Mathews or RM, got injured, why? the defense meet him in the backfield, while trying to run "up the middle", and his ankle got rolled on by a 300lbs. lineman. Sound familiar? it should, it happened to LT not once, not twice, yes three times. in his 9 years with the chargers, all of his injuries can be directly traced to his last three years here. right around the time, that's right Norv took over. also the run game started to decline, that's right, when Norv took over.

but in the last three seasons the O-line is no longer pushing the defenses off the ball. Very key in run blocking, we used to run a zone blocking scheme which was very effective. but we use one-on-one blocking scheme now. which leaves LB's free to make a play, in the backfield. but it gets worse, defenses are rushing 4 yes four lineman sometimes three, and still were fighting off the "block" and making the tackle on the RB. That is not LT's fault. if the player is blocked how can he make a tackle? RM same thing. he and the other RB are starting to bounce outside, because there's nothing there in the middle.

In conclusion it takes three things to run successfully. a good RB, good run-blocking, and good play design/calling. we were 1-3 last season, of having these good things. When RM game to town we're still 1-3. The jets run game is evidence of that. If LT was the problem, then he should not be have the season he's having. Hey a lot of people drank the kool-aid, and jumped on the bandwagon of "LT's washed up". I am not one. but it's only now that we are starting to question that line of thought and began re-thinking what the "real" problems may be. RM is all the hype they say he is. but a younger, bigger, stronger RB will make any run game better. RM was the cheap solution to an ongoing, much larger problem.

we can say what we want, but numbers don't lie. however, they don't tell the whole truth either. LT's success is directly related to a team that knows how to run the ball better than we do. Note: Brian Schottenhiemer was here, as the QB coach when LT made all those records. he would've replaced Cam Cameron as OC if he wasn't mysteriously fired. He's running the same Offense Norv installed. Second note we didn't get back to the playoffs until Norv left as OC, Cam got us the the playoffs calling plays with Norv's system.

LT was never the problem. and he's proving that....

arnie said... Oct 12, 2010, 1:12:00 PM

Plain and simple Lt has been banged up the last two seasons as a charger.complaining that the Defenses were meeting him in the backfield, and he didn't have TE infront of him. that the Line wasn't opening up the holes. As i recall most of LT's yards came off the "edges", Michael Turner ran most of the carries "up the middle". With a lead blocker.

But what i find most interesting is LT's complaints "coming home to roost". in his second game as a charger Ryan Mathews or RM, got injured, why? the defense meet him in the backfield, while trying to run "up the middle", and his ankle got rolled on by a 300lbs. lineman. Sound familiar? it should, it happened to LT not once not twice, yes three times. in his 9 years with the chargers, all of his injuries can be directly traced to his last three years here. right around the time, that's right Norv took over. also the run game started to decline, that's right, when Norv took over.

but in the last three seasons the O-line is no longer pushing the defenses off the ball. Very key in run blocking, we used to run a zone blocking scheme which was very effective. but we use one-on-one blocking scheme now. which leaves LB's free to make a play, in the backfield. but it gets worse, defenses are rushing 4 yes four lineman sometimes three, and still were fighting off the "block" and making the tackle on the RB. That is not LT's fault. if the player is blocked how can he make a tackle? RM same thing. he and the other RB are starting to bounce outside, because there's nothing there in the middle.

In conclusion it takes three things to run successfully. a good RB, good run-blocking, and good play design/calling. we were 1-3 last season, of having these good things. When RM game to town we're still 1-3. The jest run game is evidence of that. if LT was the problem, then he should not be have the season he's having. hey a lot of people drank the kool-aid, and jumped on the bandwagon of "LT's washed up". i am not one. but it's only now that we are starting to question that line of thought and began re-thinking what the "real" problems may be. RM is all the hype says he is. but a younger, bigger, stronger RB will any run game better. RM was the cheap solution to an ongoing, much larger problem.

we can say what we want, but numbers don't lie. however, they don't tell the whole truth either. LT's success is directly related to a team that knows how to run the ball better than we do. Note: Brian Schottenhiemer was here, as the QB coach when LT made all those records. he would've replaced Cam Cameron as OC if he wasn't mysteriously fired. He's running the same Offense Norv installed. Second note we didn't get back to the playoffs until Norv left as OC, Cam got us the the playoffs calling plays with Norv's system.

LT was never the problem. and he's proving that....

arnie said... Oct 12, 2010, 1:13:00 PM

Plain and simple Lt has been banged up the last two seasons as a charger.complaining that the Defenses were meeting him in the backfield, and he didn't have TE infront of him. that the Line wasn't opening up the holes. As i recall most of LT's yards came off the "edges", Michael Turner ran most of the carries "up the middle". With a lead blocker.

But what i find most interesting is LT's complaints "coming home to roost". in his second game as a charger Ryan Mathews or RM, got injured, why? the defense meet him in the backfield, while trying to run "up the middle", and his ankle got rolled on by a 300lbs. lineman. Sound familiar? it should, it happened to LT not once not twice, yes three times. in his 9 years with the chargers, all of his injuries can be directly traced to his last three years here. right around the time, that's right Norv took over. also the run game started to decline, that's right, when Norv took over.

arnie said... Oct 12, 2010, 1:13:00 PM

Part 2

but in the last three seasons the O-line is no longer pushing the defenses off the ball. Very key in run blocking, we used to run a zone blocking scheme which was very effective. but we use one-on-one blocking scheme now. which leaves LB's free to make a play, in the backfield. but it gets worse, defenses are rushing 4 yes four lineman sometimes three, and still were fighting off the "block" and making the tackle on the RB. That is not LT's fault. if the player is blocked how can he make a tackle? RM same thing. he and the other RB are starting to bounce outside, because there's nothing there in the middle.

In conclusion it takes three things to run successfully. a good RB, good run-blocking, and good play design/calling. we were 1-3 last season, of having these good things. When RM game to town we're still 1-3. The jest run game is evidence of that. if LT was the problem, then he should not be have the season he's having. hey a lot of people drank the kool-aid, and jumped on the bandwagon of "LT's washed up". i am not one. but it's only now that we are starting to question that line of thought and began re-thinking what the "real" problems may be. RM is all the hype says he is. but a younger, bigger, stronger RB will any run game better. RM was the cheap solution to an ongoing, much larger problem.

we can say what we want, but numbers don't lie. however, they don't tell the whole truth either. LT's success is directly related to a team that knows how to run the ball better than we do. Note: Brian Schottenhiemer was here, as the QB coach when LT made all those records. he would've replaced Cam Cameron as OC if he wasn't mysteriously fired. He's running the same Offense Norv installed. Second note we didn't get back to the playoffs until Norv left as OC, Cam got us the the playoffs calling plays with Norv's system.

LT was never the problem. and he's proving that....

arnie said... Oct 12, 2010, 1:14:00 PM

Part 2

but in the last three seasons the O-line is no longer pushing the defenses off the ball. Very key in run blocking, we used to run a zone blocking scheme which was very effective. but we use one-on-one blocking scheme now. which leaves LB's free to make a play, in the backfield. but it gets worse, defenses are rushing 4 yes four lineman sometimes three, and still were fighting off the "block" and making the tackle on the RB. That is not LT's fault. if the player is blocked how can he make a tackle? RM same thing. he and the other RB are starting to bounce outside, because there's nothing there in the middle.

In conclusion it takes three things to run successfully. a good RB, good run-blocking, and good play design/calling. we were 1-3 last season, of having these good things. When RM game to town we're still 1-3. The jest run game is evidence of that. if LT was the problem, then he should not be have the season he's having. hey a lot of people drank the kool-aid, and jumped on the bandwagon of "LT's washed up". i am not one. but it's only now that we are starting to question that line of thought and began re-thinking what the "real" problems may be. RM is all the hype says he is. but a younger, bigger, stronger RB will any run game better. RM was the cheap solution to an ongoing, much larger problem.

arnie said... Oct 12, 2010, 1:14:00 PM

Part 3

we can say what we want, but numbers don't lie. however, they don't tell the whole truth either. LT's success is directly related to a team that knows how to run the ball better than we do. Note: Brian Schottenhiemer was here, as the QB coach when LT made all those records. he would've replaced Cam Cameron as OC if he wasn't mysteriously fired. He's running the same Offense Norv installed. Second note we didn't get back to the playoffs until Norv left as OC, Cam got us the the playoffs calling plays with Norv's system.

LT was never the problem. and he's proving that....

JoJo said... Oct 14, 2010, 10:11:00 PM

Wow. SD fans just can't get enough LT bashing, can they.

He was trying -- and playing injured -- and it's just ludicrous to say "they pass blocked well, so therefore they were runblocking well."

For once someone needs to say the organization, its fans and the local media turned on one of the best Bolts ever and now they look stupid for doing it.

Trying to deny that LT was wronged with the goodbye given by SD fans just makes us look more stupid.

Anonymous said... Oct 16, 2010, 8:02:00 PM

im a chargers fan n i think u guys r stupid 4 talking bout tomlinson like that jets run the ball like 40 times in a game the chargers run the ball like 25 times the jets r more committed 2 running the ball we dont only miss tomlinsons catching ability but we miss his pass blocking ability hes the best running back pass blocker n the league n for who ever said tolbert is a good running back hes not he fumbles way to much at critical times to ryan mathews is a good young running back that will break out and sproles dont get me started with him hes not an every down running back and sumtimes hes not good on third downs cuz he cant pass block...but the jets will win the super bowl this year cuz of tomlinson....the chargers have 2 get rid of turner cuz he chokes in the playoffs...and for aj smith hes a dumb fuck he doesnt know how 2 treat franchise players look for example..rodney harrison junior seau and now tomlinson and rodney harrison got a ring wen he left san diego so come guys stop talking shit about tomilinson its aj smiths and norv turners fault he left

Eddie said... Oct 19, 2010, 9:43:00 AM

It's a shame but it is true. Older players get spoiled & don't expect to workout that hard anymore. Everytime I think of L.T., I remember him running off his mouth about the Chargers as a whole. I do regonize he will the greatest RB of all time for the Chargers. HOF is nice, but for me a fan to win the SB is more important. I can't help but see L.T. talking crap about the Chargers out of my mind when his name is mention. So I can care less what he does. Thank you L.T. for the memories, no thanks for the self destructive coments you made about my Chargers. Good Luck.

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