Denis Savage on SportsTalkCleveland
DENIS SAVAGE: Things are a little bit desperate out here as you can imagine at 0-5. The mood of the team – I don't know if they call themselves desperate right now, but the bye week that they just came back from – most of the players did not go away and stayed in town looking at game tape and they really need this win.
FOOTBALL FANATICS: They tell us you can't win games on paper. But as you look at this team, the Chargers have weapons, especially on offense. Why is this team 0-5? What have they done to not be able to get a win?
DENIS SAVAGE: Offense is just one part of the game. Unfortunately, they have not played defense very well. They can't stop the run to the outside and the tackling has just been horrid. The secondary can barely cover the receivers on deep routes and no pass rush is imminent. It is just big play after big play that just keep happening and without a combination of special teams, defense and offense -- you are just not going to win in this league.
FOOTBALL FANATICS: How much do they miss Junior Seau?
DENIS SAVAGE: Outside of San Diego I think it is overblown. Obviously at 0-5 my theory may not hold much water. I really think that none of these guys are coming together. It is a whole young secondary. If you look at Sammy Davis, he has Quentin Jammer on the other side. Sammy Davis has no one to look up to and get advice from.
FOOTBALL FANATICS: It is highly unfair to be thinking this way, but such is the nature of the NFL right now. Only a small amount of this is Drew Brees' fault, but any sense that his job may be on the line as a starter if things keep snowballing?
DENIS SAVAGE: Right now I would say no. He has the full confidence of the coaching staff. Of course at the end of the year I am not sure the coaching staff will even be here. He also has ownership's support right now. Obviously he has to be a leader on this team and lead them to some wins. It is realistic, but I don't think it is going to be in year two. Next year if the same thing starts happening, we will be looking at that and asking those questions.
FOOTBALL FANATICS: The signing of David Boston had to get this whole city in an uproar thinking the best available free agent. That ESPN article came out and the suspension and his whole attitude towards the game and the coaching staff, how disappointed is the city?
DENIS SAVAGE: It definitely has been an up and down relationship. Two to three weeks ago fans had been calling just to ax him and move on despite potential cap hits. Of course then he comes back and had a 14 reception game and everybody wants him again. It is a possibility that something could happen down the road if his attitude problems continue. He didn't really come out and say much regarding what happened in his statement regarding his suspension and that is one of the biggest things fans didn't like about him. He almost blew it off with his statement and never came back and said I am sorry to his teammates or made an effort with the public. If he makes big plays on the field, it is not going to matter.
FOOTBALL FANATICS: On Schottenheimer, do you think it was wise of him to come out and say LaDainian Tomlinson was going to get the ball 400 times and live and die by him?
DENIS SAVAGE: I agree with his philosophy. Look at the Chargers record when he doesn't touch the ball 20 times or more. It is terrible. You have to go with what works and he is what works. We go back to the Chargers are still 0-5 this year so nothing has worked. When the team is down by 20 points week in and week out, you have to throw the ball.
FOOTBALL FANATICS: Looking longer term for the organization, what is the latest buzz on the stadium issue? Future LA Chargers?
DENIS SAVAGE: The businesses in the area formed their own proposal for the City and the Chargers to agree to. The Chargers made the first step by agreeing saying they would pay X amount of dollars in rent, eliminate the ticket guarantee and give back the money from this year's guarantee. The City has yet to respond, as binding arbitration is another matter they don't like and it is in the City's hands right now. Without a winning product on the field, it is going to get harder and harder to get any leverage in stadium negotiations.
We have some fickle fans out here. San Diego has great weather; I am sitting outside right now. There are plenty of things to do. If you don't have a winning product, people will go elsewhere.
FOOTBALL FANATICS: Leonardo Carson, I would say embattled is a good word for him, has been let go by the Chargers. Is this just one of those housecleaning things?
DENIS SAVAGE: I would agree. The Chargers have really battled this season with certain events that have happened. Whether they are the fault of the players or just wrong place at the wrong time. Carson, on the other hand, you have to believe some of the stuff that has come out on him as opposed to some of the other guys who truly were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was time to let him go. He really wasn't adding much to the team. He had two tackles on the season and they felt they could get more production by going another way.
FOOTBALL FANATICS: Do you think Marty Schottenheimer was the right guy to bring into San Diego, right after getting canned by the Redskins?
DENIS SAVAGE: I do think he is out of touch with today's game. Talking to the players over the last week or two I get the sense that they still believe. But really we have a young group that is really a bunch of followers right now. If the veterans say, ‘hey we gotta believe in this guy,' they will. I still think when they hired him almost two years ago; it wasn't the right move for San Diego. We had a different direction than a Marty Schottenheimer coached team. He does well with his veterans everywhere and it is his way or the highway. The veterans that were here were jettisoned, Rodney Harrison – Junior Seau, and I am not sure that was the right move for this team and his style of coaching. I kind of blame some of the other coaches he brought in for not going with whatever the player's strengths are. I think that is a big problem in San Diego.
FOOTBALL FANATICS: You mentioned Rodney Harrison. Would he help the young cornerbacks?
DENIS SAVAGE: I do think that he would help them more than Seau. In the secondary we really have no one. Even Kwamie Lassiter, he is a great guy, he is a veteran, but he is playing out of position this year – his first in San Diego. We have no one playing in their natural position with experience and it really hurts.
FOOTBALL FANATICS: What is the key for the Chargers, this Sunday against the Browns, if they want to get their first win of the year?
DENIS SAVAGE: The offensive line. Phil Bogle and Solomon Page going against Gerard Warren and Courtney Brown -- It is all up to that battle. The same goes for the defensive line going against Melvin Fowler and Chad Beasley. It is going to be in the trenches this week. I think both of us have young secondary, young linebackers, so it is a battle of the lines. Whoever can win that, will win the game.