Change of Temperament

The San Diego Chargers are now 0-4 in the cellar of the AFC West. Lost was a chance to bring the Raiders down to their level. In the wake of the disastrous start, there was no talk of getting better, no talk of sympathy, and the talk moved away from dwelling on the past.

For the first time this season, Marty Schottenheimer did not bore us with the same routine. He talked from the heart. He spoke of truths and how to move on.

"We found different ways to lose four games now," Schottenheimer said. "There is nobody in this league that is going to have any sympathy for you. You are going to have to go out and win a game and that is what we are going to do this week."

Prophecy?

Perhaps.

It is refreshing to hear Marty talk of the future in certain terms. Just a couple short weeks ago, Marty had not reached this point of clarity.

"We have to do the things that will finally give us the opportunity to clear the hurdle and win a football game."

At 0-4 that much was obvious. It is still good to hear Marty turn the corner. Instead of excuses on how good the team is getting, the talk is of about overcoming obstacles.

"If you dwell in self pity, you are destined to continue to fail. We are not going to dwell in self pity. I think it is the worst of all human emotions."

Self pity is one thing, recognizing mistakes a totally different journey. The team made several mistakes and has continued to make some of the same mistakes that have haunted them for the last eight games. Penalties are one of the primary ones. Marty teams have always preached discipline and Kelvin Garmon may need a lesson in humility to get through. With Solomon Page coming back, Bob Hallen, who had a spectacular game on Sunday, could move to left tackle and Phil Bogle can stay in at guard. Players need to realize they are accountable for their actions on the field, same as they are off the field (right, David?).

Speaking of Bogle, "He did a nice job," Schottenheimer said. "Toward the end he kind of wore down a bit. I don't know whether that is physical fatigue or emotional fatigue. It might well have been the latter. I thought he did a good job."

Not glowing, but solid. Marty talks of conditioning and maybe that is it. The whole line looked worn down at the end of the game. When the defense was allowing points, the line looked depleted.

"We have not yet reaped the benefit of our efforts," said Schottenheimer. "Yesterday was a great opportunity and we let it get away."

Anytime you have a 14 point lead against Oakland with six minutes to go, it is more than an opportunity. It is as close to a slam dunk the Chargers were likely to have this year. Eric Gagne was not on the hill this day as the Chargers found a way to blow it.

"Anybody that is 0-4, you are not where you need to be."

The Jaguars, a team the Chargers play in week five, know the feeling. They sit at 0-4 as well.

We all remember the trek to Carson to watch the Chargers practice. We all remember the "bonding" and "building trust between teammates". After making some sense this week, the coach came out with one of the most outlandish comments of the season.

"There is an element of confidence and trust that is not there."

No trust? Carson was exclusively used as a catalyst to spawn trust between the members of the team. They were supposed to stick together and learn to mimic each other's moves. Now we hear there is no trust?

What was Carson for? What was the preseason for? Obviously the either the team did not use this time wisely as it is still trying to gain trust, or the coaches never broached the subject as it has been portrayed in the media.

Either way, it amounts to an 0-4 season and a battle for worst next week with Jacksonville.

Injury Update:

"LT has a little bit of a strain in the back of his calf," said Schottenheimer.

"Sammy learned a lesson the hard way, you don't stand around a pile in this league or you get your tail knocked off and that is literally what he did," said Schottenheimer. "He worked out there today and I am expecting he will be alright."

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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