Chargers Not Gun Shy

To listen to the sports writers talk the Chargers are running scared following the Ryan Leaf debacle. They are insolent children hypnotized by flame but knowing that fire is hot and will burn baby. The sports writers have lost all concept of reality.

To think that the Chargers base their drafts on Whinin' Ryan inspired fear is ridiculous bordering on just plain stupid. Yet, each time the Chargers and the first pick in the draft is mentioned Leaf's name comes up like an oil slick that simply refuses to go away.

To hear the sports writers talk the Chargers traded down and did not take Vick because they were afraid of another Leaf debacle. No. The Chargers had LaDainian Tomlinson on the top of their draft boards, not Michael Vick. They traded down because they figured Tomlinson would still be available at 5 and he was the player they wanted. I think, judging by the fact that Tomlinson has rushed for over 1,000 yards the past three years behind a patchwork offensive line plays out the Chargers' draft board. Michael Vick is a great quarterback and, if he can stay healthy he can be a top-flight quarterback. Unfortunately, every defensive player in the league knows that he likes to run and defensive players love to hit running quarterbacks.

If the Chargers do trade out of the top spot they will do so because they feel the player they want will be available further on in the draft. Manning is a safe bet. Manning should and probably will go number one. If he is on the top of the Chargers' boards they will stay pat and take him. I doubt he is, though, much to the chagrin of many Chargers fans.

This team is after good young players that fit into the mold that AJ Smith and Marty Schottenheimer are casting. Eli will be a great quarterback, but he will also be high cost and, unlike in previous years where the Chargers have spent unwisely, the team is focusing on cap awareness.

To think that AJ and Marty are in danger of losing their jobs is another myth. They are not. Dean Spanos doesn't have his father's penchant for trying to run the team and he is a far call from Daniel Snyder. The Spanos' liked Marcellus Wiley, from all indications; Marty and AJ didn't see him fitting into the new defensive scheme. Wiley is gone. Dean has given AJ and Marty the freedom to remake the team as they see fit.

Ryan Leaf was Bobby Beathard's call. It was not necessarily a bad call. No one could have possibly have predicted the implosion of Leaf. His physical skills were amazingly impressive, his attitude was horrendous. It's possible that with the right coach he could have lived up to his potential. Kevin Gilbride was not that coach. Of course, it's possible that he was just a jerk and never would have amounted to anything.

This is the AJ and Marty show and they will draft the way they want. Ryan Leaf does not figure into the equation, despite what the sports writers say. Come April 24th if the Chargers move down in the draft they will be trying, for good or ill, to get the player they want, not to escape the ghost of Whinin' Ryan.

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