The Ugly Truth

Searching for good news? Look elsewhere. The San Diego Chargers are content to go into Detroit this week fielding players that have yet to get the job done. It should come as no surprise that the team is 2-10. They don't have the guts to release a player that deserves it more than Keyshawn Johnson or the guts to even bench a player. Instead they are content to suffer through mediocrity – well – that would assume they were close to being average and they aren't.

First the bad news from the coach.

"Obviously we did not do well in the placekicking part of (the game)", Marty Schottenheimer said.

"The one was placed, and it was tilted back a little bit, and it made for a low kick that they got a piece of. And then the other one he just missed, which is not uncommon in this league."

Not uncommon in San Diego would be more accurate. San Diego and Steve Christie specifically is ranked 29th in the league in kicker points with 63. The Chargers are one of three teams that does not own a 50% or better rate on field goals from 40-49 yards.

Their conversion rate of 70.6% of their kicks is good for fifth worst in the league. Talking to Schottenheimer you would not know it.

"I still think he is a very, very good kicker."

Is he afraid to take a chance with a new kicker? The team is 2-10. If you are fifth worst in the league in anything, you change. Wasn't that the reason behind the revamped secondary?

Schottenheimer would tell us that he "doesn't like change." Each week you will hear Schottenheimer say it is "frustrating". He has no concept of frustrating. Frustrating is watching this team fail to maneuver to get better.

It goes back to not even putting in a claim for Kevin Johnson, a player 17 teams put in claims for. The Chargers with one solid receiver after Eric Parker went on IR do not recognize talent.

"Christie is a guy who has been very, very solid."

A has-been. You know all about that don't you coach?

Christie has not been solid since spot duty in 2001. His 2002 season ended in a 69.2% field goal percentage. Why did the Chargers think he would be better this year?

They kept a kicker, Mackenzie Hoambrecker on the practice squad for most of the year. They had to have a feeling, didn't they?

"From my point of view, right now, we will continue to do that. We know each week what the range is for him, but we have to get the ball up. We have to get the elevation."

Range? Firing range is what should be brought in to deal with Christie. At least then he would have a shot.

Who we kidding here? There was no good news:

"I know right now that (Reche Caldwell) is taking a lot of the heat. I just told him that, ‘what you have to do is if you want to overcome that, you better try to find other means to go about the process of your work,'" Schottenheimer said.

As my brother said when I played out the scenario and reread what Schottenheimer said, "Um, should I get a new job coach?"

Great coaching job there. I don't even know what the hell you said. Thanks coach. I owe you one. Next time I am having trouble I know where to go.

Schottenheimer continues to defend his players. Admirable, but sometimes people respond when they are called out. Who will forget Bill Parcells calling Terry Glenn "she". Glenn is now on the Cowboys, the same place Parcells is coaching at.

But that wouldn't be right.

"He did a terrific job for us – blocking. That speaks to the competitiveness of the young man. As I have told him, and I know Coach Lofton has told him, we wouldn't be on him if we didn't think he had the ability to help us win."

We admit he can block. Did they switch him to second string tight end when we were not looking? Caldwell just drops passes.

Derek Ross, a third round pick of a year ago, was dumped by Parcells today. More and more teams are getting sick of players not conforming. The funny thing is we just want him to catch the damn ball. I don't think we are asking for much.

"He is struggling. Right now, I am sure his confidence…we got to put him in a position where he has a chance to make plays, but he is a very talented young man that is right now not doing it the way he would like to do it or we would expect him to."

"I need to see more of (Reche). He is going to continue to play."

The great teacher and evaluator needs to see more of Caldwell? Fans have seen enough.

Who do we need to talk with to see change? When will Kassim Osgood get his chance to play second fiddle?

"Kassim did a very, very good job and that in fact might take place.

"He also did a terrific job in the kicking game. He is one of the individuals who have stood out for us in his ability to show up for kickoff coverage and the few situations on punt where he has had an opportunity."

Any hope for Grant Mattos?

"We have seen enough of Grant. We think we know him pretty well. He is a pretty good receiver who was the #4 receiver at USC. He has worked really hard and he has done a solid job for us.

"The only way I would see Grant involved in the mix is if we went with five wide receivers on a given Sunday. We went in with four Sunday and barring injury I imagine those are the four we will continue to use."

It is clear the Chargers will go nowhere with this sense of loyalty. At 2-10 it appears they like it that way…or at least the coaches do.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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