Laying Blame

The whole San Diego Chargers team, offense, defense and special teams was brought into the film room on Monday to dissect the game from Sunday. They stayed in the room, allowing for a few breaks for roughly four hours to try and hash out the problems from Sunday's loss to Cincinnati. Tough break for a team that has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

"I hope it wakes some people up and we take heed at what's being taught and we all get a little bit better," said Doug Flutie.

"What made it unique is everybody watched everybody," Marty Schottenheimer said.

"I think we all got a chance to see how many mistakes we really made, how many blown opportunities we had," LaDainian Tomlinson said.

"It is not that complicated," Schottenheimer added. "What we teach and the way we go about teaching it…if they devote reasonable time to it, then they should understand it."

So it is the players fault. They have not devoted enough time to understand what you and the coaches are teaching. In twelve weeks they are not at a stage where they have absorbed the mantra being taught. Sounds kind of fishy.

A true teacher and leader will continuously accept the blame. They will also find new ways to teach the people around them. It may be an unconventional way that gets them to understand. Some people are visual, others can be had in print and still others will need hands on. Heck maybe they need a game of basketball to teach. Whatever it is, Schottenheimer and his staff are not getting through.

Twelve weeks of preaching and teaching and they blame the players. Is it the players who are not on the same page? Or is it the coaches who have no clue who they have on the field and how they should interact. Is one coach telling a kid one thing, while another says something entirely different?

"They have to learn exactly what is expected of them," Schottenheimer said. "In cases where they failed to do that there was dialogue asking why. What was the reason it wasn't done the correct way.

"You ask a player, what were you thinking?

"If he indicates to me with accuracy what his responsibility is, then why wasn't it performed that way? And they have an opportunity to explain that to me.

"If they don't understand, then I have to accept that responsibility."

Schottenheimer would not, of course, put percentages on which situation was more prominent. Instead his response was, "Some did, others did not. I think the majority knew what they should have done."

Maybe it is the kids, the players and everything they do. No doubt they play the game and some of the coverages they have shown have been disturbingly off kilter.

So many things ail this defense in particular it is hard to say what the real problem is anymore. They give up yardage in short spurts, behind the safeties and everywhere in between.

"We are making the first downs in both (the running and passing game)," Marvin Lewis said. "So it puts a lot of pressure on the defense."

The Chargers "defense" popped from the cooker.

"A lot of it has to do with the younger players. When you look at us right now, pass defense we are not covering them very well. And we have to put more pressure on the quarterback where the quarterback doesn't have this big window to throw the ball into, your jersey color in a near proximity to the guy throwing the ball. We got guys that are wide open. But we have to cover them tighter because the two things go hand and hand."

So it isn't just the younger players? As far as we know the defensive line has some vets on it. They are accountable for their actions just as much, if not more, than the rookies.

"If you know what to do, just do the right thing," Schottenheimer pleaded.

When asked if he is surprised players don't know what to do Schottenheimer responded with a meager, "Yeah I am. I am surprised that we are having the problems we are having at this juncture. It is not brain surgery. It should not be this difficult.

"If we thought we had someone who could or would perform better over the next five weeks, I wouldn't hesitate to make that change."

Nowhere to turn. Is there pride left on this team? The Chargers get a break this week. They play the number one defense in the league. Oh joy.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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