The Chargers are a team filled with a unique blend of youth and marquee talent. One must look at this interesting mesh of personnel and question: is this team trying to make a legitimate championship run this season, or are they more concerned about building something special for the future?
At this point in the season, the team could go either way. Chargers fans will get nothing but coach speak from the Bolts brass regarding such a notion, but the Chargers actions will surely speak louder than their words. Here are a few signs which will indicate which way the team is going to go.
The following is a list of the three things to look for if the Chargers plan on rebuilding…
1) The Chargers finish their plans to inject speed into their defense. They defense is fast now, but a few key positions remain manned by players too slow to be effective in the scheme. Look for Matt Wilhelm to take over at Mike linebacker, and for Terrance Kiel to move into the starting line-up thereby bumping Kwamie Lassiter back to free safety. That will make the defense even younger and more vulnerable, but by next season, it will have the speed at every position to run the scheme they way Marty would prefer.
2) The Chargers give their specialists a chance to fulfill their potential. Andrew Pinnock will take over as the short yardage and goal line back. Mike Scifres will take over on kickoffs and maybe even be given a chance to punt a couple of times for some real game experience. And Drayton Florence will take over as the primary kickoff returner, as he has a dynamic presence about himself and Tim Dwight is in his last season with the Bolts unless he greatly elevates his level of play.
3) The Chargers begin unveiling their offensive line of the future. The big change here is lining up Courtney Van Buren and Phil Bogle at the tackle positions. This is a huge risk and would put the Chargers two prime time players, Tomlinson and Brees, in a very precarious position. However, it would seem these players are to be tabbed with starting duty no later than next year, and the only way to get better is to strap it up and play.
Now is a list of three signs the Chargers are desperately trying to win now…
1) The Chargers quit holding back big time playmakers for the sake of late season success. Raylee Johnson resumes his role in the starting line-up, as he provides a more consistent pass rush than Adrian Dingle. David Boston pretends he is a man for the duration of the season and plays through his heel bruise. And Stephen Alexander either plays through his latest injury or retires, because judging by his medical records, if he can't play hurt, he flat out just can't play.
2) The Chargers start sending messages out to those members of the squad who are not holding their own end of the line. If Zeke Moreno cannot help the defense stop the run from his Mike linebacker position, then Carlos Polk gets his chance to do the job better. If Sammy Davis can't avoid inconsistencies and penalties in coverage, then a less spectacular veteran joins the Bolts to replace the recently waived Tay Cody. And if Jason Fisk cannot generate a pass rush playing on a line with pro-bowl caliber players like Jamal Williams and Marcellus Wiley, then DeQuincy Scott get his chance to do so. Scott had two sacks last season with very limited playing time, while Fisk had three despite substantial opportunity for more. The time is now for the Chargers fringe starters to either step-up or step-aside.
3) Finally, the final sign that will show a true passion to be successful in the now: The Chargers defense is young, no matter who plays or where, so no change in scheme or mindset will keep them from giving up some points. However, this offense has the ability to dominate, and has been stagnant thus far. Fortunately, the Chargers have the biggest offensive spark this game has seen in quite sometime, and he is standing on the sidelines wearing number 7. Drew Brees is in no way to blame for the offenses poor showing, but a change at the helm may very well still garner good to great results. If Flutie can get the team to play for him, if he is in good of shape as he and his teammates say he is, and is he can bring some excitement to the team and to the fans with his improvisational style of play, then the time is now to let him do it.
So here we are Chargers fans. Which direction will the team go? Will we turn it around in time to make a playoff run despite being in this killer division? Or will we look to the future, and spend yet another season thinking next one will be the one? I do not know which direction the team will go. But I, as well as Bolts backers across the nation, will know shortly. All we have to do is follow the signs.
Michael Lombardo can be reached at BostonLTeaParty@yahoo.com
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