Death Warrant?

San Diego Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer admitted it all starts with him in his press conference with reporters. Fans have been clamoring for weeks that he should be canned. Has Schottenheimer just signed his own death warrant?

"Where we are is absolutely and unequivocally unacceptable," said Schottenheimer.

That is an understatement. The team is 0-5, has a bye week to stew over a loss and think what could have been and there is dissent amongst the fans and perhaps the players. Adding a week to fester will only strengthen the resolve of the detractors.

Have you ever sat and thought about a problem so much that it irks you further. Think the San Diego Chargers.

Let's face it. The Chargers want a winning product on the field. They need a winning product on the field. There is no new stadium for losers. There is no money to be made for losers. Right now they are losers. The movie could have been about them, right now it does not look like they will get the girl in the end.

"Winning is everything in our business. Winning is our bottom line," said Owner and Chairman of the Board Alex Spanos.

"(Losing) is getting very monotonous," said Marty Schottenheimer. "We always seem to have more cameras when we lose to when we win."

Controversy sells, Marty. Right now there is relevance to the talk that the Coach may be replaced. Maybe he is blind to it. He has a job to do and must stay focused. Marty has started the ball rolling. It may soon become a boulder and knock him off his perch.

Schottenheimer came out with his own admission. While he was not ready to step down, the doubt is there.

"It always starts with me," said Schottenheimer. "I am the last guy to look at myself in the mirror every night. I always ask myself, ‘Have you done everything today that might help us become better.' On occasion, I am sure I have said, ‘No, I haven't.'"

Admitting that has to be a shot in the head to the players that are giving their all. How can players and even fans expect to give their support when Schottenheimer is not using the tools to make them better?

"You always look first at yourself in situations like this," said Schottenheimer. "Ultimately, the responsibility rests with me."

Players look to you for guidance. Responding to someone who is not sure of his own teachings is a trap ready to spring. There already has been talk about Schottenheimer losing some of his players. Players want to win. There is no doubt there. When you look at the guidance given and the teaching is not 100%, it will breed doubt amongst the players. If players are not on the same page with their coach, they will find themselves out of position. Sound familiar to San Diego Chargers fans?

Is there concern then about his job security?

"No, I have no concern about it," said Schottenheimer. "I have never had a concern in any other place I have been, I have no concern here. I don't ever feel any pressure. The pressure that is on me is self imposed. I feel a responsibility to the fans, the organization, to the players…"

Maybe he should have some concerns. Concerns will breed an attitude to instill upon the players. A sense of urgency to get it done and get it done now. Every game from here on out is a playoff game, or it should be to the coaching staff. Win or be eliminated. Call the game and teach as if the coming week is the last time you will coach. Every loss furthers the speculation that the coaches will get fired. It is becoming the norm when we talk about the Chargers. The hot seat is burning red.

What about the other coaches? Can we expect changes, if not you?

"There will be an evaluation of all of us, but, no," Schottenheimer said. "I think we are very fortunate here. The two people that are involved in play entry are very, very good at it."

Maybe the coach needs to involve himself more in the gameplan. If he is the one talking to the players during the week as he claims, they may have more faith in the plays he is calling and they will execute better.

"I will on occasion say I want to do this or I want to do that," Schottenheimer said. "Probably doesn't occur more than four or five times in a game. The guys that are making the play entry upstairs have a far better perspective than me. We will talk about what has taken place; I will have a thought here or there. Short yardage I may say hey lets throw it on third and one."

Which four or five plays may be the key. If it is working, he may need to expand that role. As the losses mount, he may not have a role in the near future.

Schottenheimer is not ready to concede his job or the goal of the team. Coming back from the bye week could determine the rest of the season. He has been coaching for 17 seasons. Many have said his time has come. Still he forges on. It is his nature.

"I am a hardheaded German, and I love challenges," said Schottenheimer.

This may be one challenge that is too big for him to overcome.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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