I know I start a lot of posts this way, but I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to get back here. Twitter has made it a lot easier to get "that one point" across, but makes it less likely that I'll try to build an entire installment around it. I was all set to write about the draft when Junior Seau passed away. Since then I've been working on about ten pages entitled "Bolt Of Inspiration," which deals with Junior and his impact on the Chargers and on me as a fan. I have to give all the credit (and my eternal gratitude) to Eric Stangel, who gave me motivation to write it. I'd also like to thank Jim Trotter, who not only wrote SI's cover story on Junior but remained friends with him, for taking the time to read it. One way or the other, it will appear here in the Halls Of Justice. As you know, FAITHFUL READER, I only keep the jerseys of former Bolts who don't go onto play elsewhere. I don't even consider whether it was the player's choice to leave the Chargers or not when I shut the door on them. This included Junior and LaDainian Tomlinson. Watching the "Celebration of Life" on the web brought back a lot of old feelings for those guys. LT, decked out in the powder blue sweater, had to remind the crowd that it was "Junior's day" after the monstrous reaction he received. I gotta say, I would be 100% in support of bringing him back as a 3rd down specialist. If it doesn't make sense from a football standpoint, I can live with it. But if it really is a case of AJ's pride, it would represent yet another missed opportunity. At the very least, I hope that LT doesn't play elsewhere. Maybe we can take up a collection to see if he can get the Jets tattoo lasered off.
Now that the OTAs are underway, it's time to actually think about the season. For whatever it's worth, I'm still planning to catch the 10/28 game in Cleveland and 12/23 in Jersey. Given my lack of confidence in any team Norv Turner is coaching, this might seem surprising. What can I say? I'm still up for a good road trip whenever I can take one. However, I refuse to believe any of the "this is the make or break season" talk. Nothing I've seen makes me think that Dean Spanos has the sack to make changes if things don't turn around. At this point, I'm not even clear what the expectations from ownership are for this team. Since they've missed the playoffs the past two seasons is getting in now enough? Since Peyton Manning has made Denver everyone's favorite for the AFC West are we supposed to be happy if the Chargers can even get into the postseason? I'm all for gradual progress, but I think we can all agree that it stopped in 2009. Yes, we won as many games as Indy, Pitt and New England for a period of time. But you know what the difference between the Chargers and those teams are? I know you do. It's not that they never won the Super Bowl by itself that's worn me down--it's that they haven't even gotten their due to their own mistakes that sickens me. We've all pulled for crappy Charger teams for years. But it's the lack of smarts, fire and discipline that has made it so hard to be optimistic.
But they don't need me to wear rose-colored glasses beforehand to rectify that. Everything I've read about Melvin Ingram is good. He is said to have that "nasty" quality the Bolts lack. Then again, that was what they said about Corey Liuget. I know he was only a rookie last year, but I'm sure the Chargers hoped for a little more from him. Sometimes, just to torture myself, I think back to right before I really lost my faith. It was before our last playoff game. I was reading all this crap about how the Jets were going to punch us in the mouth. We could lose to them, I reasoned, but not by our own hand--again. We really haven't recovered since then. That Sports Illustrated piece written after last year's loss to the Jets still rings true. If the Chargers disagreed with anything in it, they didn't show it since they lost five more after that. Read it and tell me if we've done anything to change the perception of the team. Fuck that, we haven't done anything to change the realityof this team. I'm fine with letting Vincent Jackson go if you think you could use the money better elsewhere. That appears to be AJ's thinking. But if he really wouldn't swallow his pride to sign or re-sign a guy who could help us, that's too fucked up to accept.
That's part of the reasoning behind my earlier comments on LT. Jay Paris, AJ's biggest adversary in the local media, suggested that Tomlinson should be brought back in his column from a few weeks back. Clearly, the Seau tribute affected me. It reminded me that this team needs someone like a Seau or LaDainian right now. If the Chargers have "moved on" because they have a better solution for a 3rd down back, I can live with that. But you can't let Nate Kaeding keep coming back to fuck you in January and shut the door on someone who's meant so much simply out of spite.
Where was I? The draft. Ingram should be interesting to watch. The Bolts are obviously aware of how bad they were on 3rd down last year, just as they were concerning their porous special teams the year before. Hopefully, the boat won't spring another leak. The defense needs guys who can win the battles up front. I'm not expecting another Leslie O'Neal or anything. But you don't see Chargers who can beat back or avoid their guys on the line of scrimmage. This would obviously help the secondary out immensely.
Obviously, the events of the last month make us all look at matters on the field a little differently. I won't suggest that I have any more perspective or that if I did it would even last. That being said, I do feel bad for Quentin Jammer's woes regarding his marriage dissolving. But I can't help but be more than a little pissed when he talks about playing in a fog and spacing out while Jay Cutler was torching the Chargers. There were several times last year where Jammer just looked old. Unfortunately, Cason and Gilchrist sucked just as bad so it's not as if Jammer singlehandedly sunk the team. But I'm skeptical that it was just his divorce that caused the dropoff. For years we've been begging for him to switch to safety since his hitting skills have always outweighed his coverage. Jammer even said he'd be amenable to a change last year in a radio interview on XX1090. But the idea must make too much sense since Norval immediately poo-pooed it.
Eric Weddle had a hell of a season after signing his big deal. I'm not too worried about Gregory leaving. We saw the best that Gregory had to offer at the beginning of the 2010 season and we now know it was probably the result of whatever supplement he was taking. He was hitting the shit out of people for a while there. There was all that speculation before the draft about trading up to take Mark Barron. "Experts" love to run with that "they haven't had a true safety since Rodney Harrison" shit. Hey, I loved Rodney and not just for his play. I just wrote about how the Chargers are missing what a Junior or LT brought beyond the field of play. But let's not forget that the defense around Harrison had eroded to the point where he had to spend a lot of time covering guys, which was not his strong suit even when he was young. With New England, he was able to hang back and lay the wood. It seems like just yesterday we were worried about the effect of Joe Pascale's absence on the defense. You remember, I'm sure. That was our super stingy defense that had such gaudy stats against the run, partly because the secondary was so shitty. Charles Dimry, where are thou?I've been reading all these reports about Larry English "participating." As soon as Bob Sanders went down for the year, Iimmediately asked myself why I thought he'd be healthy to begin with. I won't even rehash why picking English over Clay Mathews (or Sammy Davis over Troy Polamalu) is so tragic. The simple fact is that he hasn't even been healthy enough to be a bust on the field. All I remember reading about him during his rookie year was that he relied a lot on his speed in college but that in the NFL, it wouldn't be enough. Ryan Mathews is apparently taking shit real seriously compared to last season when came to camp out of shape. No matter who the Chagers sign to round out the running back corps, this is a huge year for Mathews. If the Chargers are going to actually do anything, they also need him to have a huge year.
That's all for now. I'd like to dedicate this brief post to my dad, who turned 70 on Monday. My brother-in-law made a list of lessons my father has imparted and #4 was "Taking your son to Chargers games only enables his dysfunctional relationship with the team."
So just chill, till the next episode, RLW.