Still Looking for Positives

Another day has passed and the loss is still ugly. The San Diego Chargers were dreadful and they know it. It is tough to look up and find any positives when you are getting beat down at every turn. They struggled in every facet of the game. Texas A&M, who lost 77-0 to Oklahoma a few weeks back, played a better game than the Bolts.

"We are not handling adversity very well," Marty Schottenheimer said. "It is not a very pretty sight."

"It sucked," Doug Flutie said. "As much as it was good last week, it sucked that bad this week. We couldn't do anything. We'll have to look at the film and try to come up with some answers, but the bottom line is that they took it to us."

"We just didn't show up," Zeke Moreno said. "Couldn't get anything going… offense, defense, special teams. We're not finger-pointing, but we just have to find a solution. We have to go back to square one, starting this week."

Thinking the Chargers will fix their problems is like thinking the cure for cancer would be found in the 1970's. Before the season many thought that the team was close to contending. They have taken a major step backwards.

The whole team is down at this juncture. They need someone to pick them up and lead them in a direction they have yet to see this year.

"We are not playing like a damn good football team," Schottenheimer said in reference to a comment he made earlier this season. "We have not performed the way I expected we would."

It has to start at the top. Schottenheimer talked about leadership, yet he seems to be setting up everyone else but himself for the fall. The job of a coach is to lead. Players are expected to take what they have been taught and execute. Granted the team has not done very well in the execute department, but Schottenheimer's tune is getting old. He never places blame on his staff and to be blunt, the talk of "young man's" is just as old and outdated as the coach himself.

"The best leaders you can have are involved in the competition because they are there," Schottenheimer said. "Ray Lewis is a classic example in my mind. He essentially grabbed a guy by the face mask and said, ‘Listen to me, look at me,' he said. Ray is extraordinary in that role. He has been ever since he was in college."

Schottenheimer could not even pick someone from his own team as his example. We call that a tell at the poker table. He has shown his hand. He does not believe there is a leader capable of leading this team and each day it becomes obvious he is not a leader either.

"The individual player has to realize the responsibility that he has a responsibility to his team," Schottenheimer added. "When you don't trust the guy to your left or right, there is an anxiety, an uncertainty. You are not quite sure what he is going to do. (It) creates an environment where you don't succeed."

Each day it becomes unclear whether Schottenheimer understands what "coaching" means anymore. There are some leaders on this team and Schottenheimer "sorta" acknowledged them. Praise is hard for Schottenheimer as well:

"We do have players that COULD step up and lead."

Ah, that a boy! Way to lead! Way to give the team somewhere to look this week after the worst loss of the season. Do they have a coach that COULD lead? Schottenheimer rarely lets us down, with his words that is.

"LaDainian Tomlinson is a leader," Schottenheimer acknowledged. "Donnie Edwards is in a position to lead. If he continues to play the way he played yesterday, the players will follow him."

Both are good choices. It is interesting that they are the only two he mentioned. Looks like a lot of the guys they thought were leaders and brought to the team are not quite the stand up guys they thought.

"This loss definitely ranks up there as one of the most frustrating," LaDainian Tomlinson said. "Every loss is frustrating, but this one is certainly up there. When you keep losing, it gets more and more frustrating every week. We're just going to have to try and come back, find our mistakes and get ready for next week.

"It's happened to us a couple of times this year, where we get behind and have to abandon the running game. We just can't let ourselves get in those situations. It's tough right now. We all have to look at ourselves and see what we can do better. I know there's definitely some things I can do better."

Of all the people and all the quotes from the game, Tomlinson is the one to put the onus on himself. He had just 12 touches in the game and he is the one who says he could have done more.

"There is only one solution to our problems, and that lies within the locker room with the coaches and players," Schottenheimer said.

The crux of the problem. Very few people are standing up. Marcellus Wiley was thought to be one of them. Same for Kwamie Lassiter. Instead they have been invisible and compounded the problem.

Is there hope for this team?

"The mentality of going out, expecting to play well and to win, has to be the mindset," Schottenheimer added.

Start by listening to Tomlinson. He burns with desire to win. Listen to him talk. Really listen, and maybe the team will start to get it and play for something. They are playing for golf season right now.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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