Speed Missing in Loss

My biggest fear before the San Diego Chargers' regular season opener was that they wouldn't show any composure within the chaos of Arrowhead Stadium. That's pretty scary since Marty Schottenheimer was brought in specifically to prevent that from happening. I initially objected to his hiring, but ultimately decided that he would be deemed successful if he could put the Bolts back in the playoffs.

The scary thing is: getting to the playoffs should really not be the Herculean task that the Chargers have made it. Sure, free agency and the salary cap have resulted in more parity. There are more teams in the thick of it at the season's end, but that shouldn't that mean like a middling team like the Chargers might actually sneak in once in a while? The fact of the matter is; the Bolts have won a single game in December over the last three seasons. During Marty Schottenheimer's first season in San Diego, they won none.

During the offseason, The Organization constantly spoke about how they were going to keep the team from running out of gas. They drafted a whole stable of young and speedy cornerbacks in order for Schottenheimer to return to the bump and run coverage of the Minnifield/Dixon era. The Chargers jettisoned Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison, not only because of their bloated cap figures, but because The Organization had decided they'd lost a step. Faster linebackers were going to aid the young, but hungry, secondary. Marcellus Wiley and Jamal Williams were hailed as returning heroes who were finally healthy and would improve the Bolts' anemic pass rush.

After all this, the Chargers come out and play one of the most pathetic opening games I can ever remember. The funny thing is that the end of the broadcast, Phil Simms assured Greg Gumbel and the rest of the viewing public that, "Marty Schottenheimer would make sure that the Chargers were ready to take on Denver next week."

Is Schottenheimer's reputation so secure that he can get a free pass like that? Why should I believe that the team will be better prepared when they looked this bad after having the longest possible time to get ready? Schottenheimer put Kassim Osgood on the active roster, leaving kickoffs to Steve Christie, rather than Mike Scifres. The Ancient One proceeds to put the ball in the returner's hand at the ten-yard line and before you know it Kansas City is at the 30. I can't even cite The Organization's insistence for even fielding a kicker who can't possibly hit a field goal over 40-yards because the Chargers never even got him in "range". I'm not an ageist, mind you. Morten Andersen has proven that an older kicker can still be successful--just not our older kicker.

Although I would be disappointed no matter how the Chargers lost the game, it's the fact that they made it so much easier on the Queefs that truly disturbs me. It seemed like the Chargers were once again played their zone, which is softer than Sally Struthers' ass after a Carnival cruise. Kansas City had no difficulty whatsoever in finding the mammoth gaps in our coverage. The defensive front four looked like they were wearing tennis shoes on a sheet of ice. Seeing Marcellus Wiley slide by the pocket reminded me of Leslie O'Neal during his last year in lightning bolts. Not only did they fail to get any pressure on Trent Green, but they also couldn't disrupt the running game. They were literally getting blown off the line so badly that Priest Holmes would have five yards by the time a Charger defender entered the picture. And speaking of Holmes, how many times did KC have to run that delayed screen for Dale Lindsey to catch on?

Once again, I'm not saying that the Queefs won't be good this year. I'm just saying that they didn't even need to be against the Chargers. Since the Bolts couldn't get any pressure with their front four, why didn't Lindsey call a blitz? They actually used a three-man front at times, which really made me sick to my stomach.

The offense didn't help matters either. Only the fantasy geeks will stress about LT's stats on Sunday. How effective could he be when we were down by 21 seemingly in a heartbeat?

The only time Schottenheimer broke from his usual stance of stubbornness and denial was to criticize the offensive line for their play. I think he was just doing this to defend the asinine play-calling. Marty claimed that, even though it represented the Chargers' last opportunity to challenge KC, he ran up the gut on third AND fourth down because we should be able to execute that play.

This isn't practice or the exhibition season, Marty.

You don't repeat plays to see if the team can get it right. When something isn't working against a real opponent, you try something that might. It's called adjustments. It's what good coaches do.

Maybe Schottenheimer has a commitment to mediocrity. It seems he's too timid to even make the calls necessary to win. The receivers, with the exception of Eric Parker, all played scared. Caldwell and Dwight both bobbled and dropped passes, respectively. Reche, who admitted during that he at times lacked focus last year, should have been especially prepared since his December fumble at Arrowhead effectively ended the Chargers' season. David Boston, who may not have been one hundred percent, was literally getting shoved to the ground. Isn't physicality supposed to be his strong suit? The KC defenders were basically talking shit about him after the game. Where's the pride that Boston seemed to have when he torched the Chargers a couple of seasons ago? Marty and Cam Cameron claimed after the game that they didn't have any extra plays designed to get the ball into Boston's hands. Boston then went on to agree with this philosophy. Why then sign Boston to a fat contract to begin with? And why was Boston so excited about bringing a new set of "triplets" to San Diego?

Damion McIntosh, who has basically proved zilch in the NFL, also got a nice deal in the offseason. He admitted after the game that KC's defenders smoked him. Lorenzo Neal didn't provide any of the lead blocking that was advertised after his signing. In fact, he fielded a kick that was clearly going out of bounds and then went out of bounds himself.

The only person on the team who played well was Drew Brees. It was obvious that he's learned how to make his passes more precise, a la Chad Pennington, even without a rocket for an arm.

There, I can honestly say that I feel better getting all that off my chest. The therapeutic nature of this screed is only tempered by the fear that Chargers will never learn their lesson. Is this why one team's rookie class can have a player shot in an attempted drive-by, a hard-hitting safety knocked out for the season and a cornerback get punched in the eye after an undisclosed "incident?" When you add in Leonardo Carson's arrest and Toniu Fonoti's injury problems, it makes you wonder. Nonetheless, I will remain faithful. That's exactly why all this hurts so much.

RLW

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