Chargers Coach: "I Don't Know"

This year more than any other Marty Schottenheimer seems to be answering with a lot of "I don't knows" or "I am not smart enough to know". The San Diego Chargers have suffered because of the ineptitude up top. They are 2-8 and are home to Cincinnati this week to face the Bengals – a team that has seen a resurgence after getting a solid coaching staff.

The Bengals did not change many of its players. In fact, they arguably lost their best defender, Takeo Spikes, and are still on the way up and share a division lead with the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.

"I haven't seen enough of them to know," Marty Schottenheimer said on Monday.

While it is true that the team must focus on the game at hand, Marty was equally unresponsive a few weeks back in Cleveland when Kelly Holcomb entered the game. After the game he admitted he knew nothing about the quarterback that has frequently supplanted Tim Couch as a starter.

"They have always had good personnel there," Schottenheimer said. "You only need to have some of that personnel come together one season and have the pieces come together, not unlike Kansas City has."

Sounds like the Chargers, doesn't it?

Come together through solid coaching would be the more accurate assessment.

The Chargers played this season up as the year they would make the playoffs. The "push" year was what AJ Smith drummed this season to be. Instead they have been pushed around and the only question remaining is: how long will Schottenheimer last.

Speaking with insiders, we have heard that Schottenheimer will only last, barring a major miracle, to the end of the season. Others within the organization think only the assistants will take the fall and Marty ball will continue.

"I don't know" will not take a team very far. The Chargers need a coach that will be smart enough to know the answers to the problems this team has. Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati knows.

"Clearly what he has done is created an environment there that has been very positive," Schottenheimer said. "Now, because of that and in combination with the quality of players that are there that thing has been turned around."

Lorenzo Neal, who signed with San Diego as a free agent after spending the past two seasons with the Bengals as their fullback, is happy for Cincinnati saying he was "Happy for those guys that have come through the bad times. They're my guys."

"They just didn't know how to get it out of those guys," said Neal. "You've got a guy there who's not accepting mediocrity," said Neal. "(Someone) who's not accepting those little crews, those little guys getting together and not following the rules and just saying anything goes and allowing everyone to just be their own coach and not paying attention and being late to meetings and not showing up. Marvin will not accept that.

"And so when you get a guy there who will implement these rules and he's going to say, 'Either you're on this ship or you're off this ship, this ship is sailing with or without you,' more times than not, not all the time are you going to win, but more than likely you're going to have success."

Neal should know. He has seen the various coaches not get it done despite a talented lineup. Last year, Cincinnati thought they were on the upswing and they were – they just needed the right coach to give them direction.

Neal knew the team was talented and the only reason he did not re-sign was not because of the talent level, but rather what he perceived to be a slap in the face on his contract.

A year from now Chargers fans may see the fruits of their labor, but it will not happen with Marty Schottenheimer here. The wait may soon be over or it may seem to last a lifetime if Marty gets a free pass, one he clearly does not deserve.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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