The Antidote

Changes are coming. The San Diego Chargers, Martyball version 2.0, were introduced to the world during opening week and proved one thing, they need to get better.

"We really didn't play that well," quarterback Drew Brees said. "We really didn't play like we can. You always try to take bad things that happen and turn them into good and say ‘How can we learn from this?' and ‘How is this going to make us better?'"

Well, Marty and his crew are the people Mr. Spanos is paying handsomely to produce better play, so I think this is as good a time as any to examine some moves that Marty might pull in order to make himself look a little smarter.

First off, for a defense built for speed the Bolts sure had a hard time tracking down Priest every time he bounced outside. A prime example of this was Holmes' five yard touchdown scamper, with Zeke Moreno and Carlos Polk trying in vain to catch up with his magnificent foot speed. What happened to all of that improved speed Chargers fans heard about all offseason? Well that speed was residing inside a dormant Matt Wilhelm, by far the fastest of the Bolts Mike linebackers, and a man who was deactivated before kickoff. Not exactly a lot of bang for the Chargers fourth round buck.

Speaking of draft choices, it is hard to recall such a collection of picks withheld from what they were drafted to do. Fifth rounder Mike Scifres was drafted as a kickoff specialist, then was deactivated and forced to watch Steve Christie's kickoffs sail well short of the goal line.

Andrew Pinnock, seemingly a seventh round steal, spent the entire preseason proving to anyone who can see that he is money in short yardage, converting every attempt he was given. It may sound odd to suggest removing Pro Bowlers LaDainian Tomlinson and Lorenzo Neal from the field on a crucial play to allow Pinnock to tote the rock from the one back set he prefers. However, look at what Pinnock has shown in short yardage situations since dawning the blue and gold. It matters not that he is a rookie. He has shown he can do it, so let him do it.

Reche Caldwell may have cost the Bolts the game at Arrowhead. That is bad. This is the second season in a row he has done that. That is even worse. It is time for Tim Dwight to claim the number two job, for Eric Parker to move into the slot, and for Reche Caldwell to move back to the practice field and return when he is ready to show something. Receivers catch passes and make plays, if Reche can't do that, it is time for him to give way to someone who can.

Tim Dwight is clearly the second best receiver on this team. His hands may be sketchy as well, be he has the speed and explosion to make big plays and spark the offense. And Eric Parker's ability to consistently produce big plays, despite limited opportunities, is truly amazing.

Finally, the biggest culprit in the Chargers embarrassing display on Sunday was the offensive line. Marty has said since the offseason movements began, "Our objective is to find the five best offensive linemen and they will be the ones that will play." It would seem as of now the Bolts top five, talent wise, are Vaughn Parker, Kelvin Garmon, Jason Ball, Phil Bogle, and Solomon Page. So why not line them up just like that?

Page is more comfortable at tackle to begin with. "I feel more comfortable out on an island," Page admitted. Vaughn has played the left side before, and there his run blocking deficiencies (insert more disastrous short yardage flashbacks here) are masked by his ability to pass protect far better than incumbent left tackle, Damion I just made Vonnie friggin Holliday famous McIntosh. Kelvin Garmon and Jason Ball have been the only consistent performers on the line thus far.

Where the added talent comes in is via one Phil Bogle. "We're hopeful that he becomes another Jason Ball," said Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer. "He has unique balance for a guy that weighs 320 pounds. Balance gives you the opportunity to be a good pass protector because you can recover. He's got good quickness. You very seldom see him on the ground. Generally, 320-pound guys fall on the ground a lot. He's physical and he's bright. He's made a very positive impression on all of us."

Phil Bogle has everything it takes to become the next Jason Ball just as Marty dreams. Everything that is, except for a chance to show it.

"We are very pleased with his performance. He's played both tackle and both guard positions, so he's playing a lot of different places. He's handled that well. He also doesn't back down from anybody. He's not intimidated and he's aggressive. He's got one of the game's best teachers in offensive line coach Hudson Houck, who is really bringing Phil right along," said Buddy Nix, the Chargers' Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel.

Slide Phil in at right guard and the Chargers have a young, gifted interior line they can keep together for quite some time.

The Chargers lost on Sunday. Now that it's over, it's time to do something about it. The Bolts brass can either hide their hands in the sand and wait for these problems to go away, or they can makes some changes before it is too late. This is a good team; let's just hope they can prove it in time to make a run at the playoffs.

Mike Lombardo can be reached at

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