The Justice Files

After the Bunkos went ahead by three points Sunday, I could feel the sense of deflation from the adjacent barstool. Sammy looked like she wanted to walk out the door. "I feel like I'm going to throw up. Thanks a lot for turning me into a Charger fan. Why aren't you freaking out?"

Don't get me wrong. I was nervous and pissed at the same time. But I honestly felt that we would win if we were JUSTIFIED in doing so. "You'll know everything you need about this year's Chargers in the next few minutes," I assured Sam.

When Keading lined up for the field goal, I wasn't that nervous. Once again, I believed that he would knock it through if the Bolts really deserved this one. Of course, no one could really make that determination until the clock finally ran out.

Was I possibly protecting myself from the sickening heartbreak I would later feel after the Chargers lost? Partially. But I truly believe that good teams make those few plays that are the difference between winning and losing. If the Bolts couldn't do that, I assured Sam, they didn't deserve to win. Let's be honest with ourselves. In the second half of Sunday's game, the Chargers did not look like a team that knows how to finish games.

I received a lot of understandably angry e-mails over the last four days. Most of them can't be reprinted here, but they will appear this weekend. Nonetheless, FAITHFUL READER, you can imagine how other Charger fans took the loss. But we can't say that the Bolts really deserve to be anything other than 0-2. We can't kid ourselves into believing that a few breaks in our favor would have resulted in victory. We all knew that we got a ton of those breaks last season. We also knew that the Bolts made those plays in crunch time that historically have been made AGAINST them. Did it mean anything that we failed to make those plays in our five games against playoff teams? I don't know, but our first two opponents this season were on the same level as those we racked up 12 wins last year. We certainly haven't showed any signs of elevating our play.

Drew Brees has always been real good about taking responsibility for his bad games and he had good reason to on Sunday. There's no question that he was locked in on Champ Bailey's interception. But I agree with Brees that there was a lot of time after that for the Chargers to recover. What really frightened me was the 12-yard sacks and the fumble. I'm not suggesting that Brees will return to the regression of 2003. But he cannot lose that much yardage. That was a big reason that we had a net of one-yard for most of the third quarter. We can compliment Dallas and Denver all we want to. But we all know it's gonna get a lot tougher in the weeks to come. If Brees can't get rid of the ball, we're in trouble.

Of course, it would be a lot easier for Brees if he could dump the ball off to a receiver rather than try to get outside the tackles to throw it away. LaDainian Tomlinson has had to pick up incoming pass rushers repeatedly. However, it's not his job to script plays that allow him to create in the open field. That's Cam Cameron's job. I am really starting to wonder if Cam's really pro material. He ran that great option in OT of the Traitor game in 2002. He ran a similar play to Tomlinson for a touchdown. But when we most need it, Cameron seems to fold.

To make matters worse, Denver ran the same play to Ron "Big Momma's House" Dayne on 4th and 1. Having lived on the Right Coast all my life, I can tell you that there is no excuse for letting Ron Dayne pile up yardage on you. He couldn't get one-yard for the Giants when they were blowing the Vikings out in the second half of the 2000 NFC title game.

Even though he won't let his assistants talk to the media, everyone knows that Schottenheimer has final authority on playcalling. If Cameron's plays seem haphazard, the Head Coach can change that.

Or can he?

The criticism of "Martyball" wasn't that he relied too heavily on the running game. If you have the horses for that type of offense, history has shown that you should run it. But I've always thought that the real knock on Schottenheimer was that he was so stubborn, he would cut his nose to spite his face. He's not real poised when the pressure is on. I think that can rub off on the coordinators. I've been watching the video clips of Marty's comments on the Union-Tribune site. I'm getting a little tired of listening to him react to what the other team devises or modifies. It's time for the Chargers to become the team that opponents need to adjust to.

Tomlinson joked that Cameron would finally call more screen passes because he's tired of being questioned about it. "Cam knows he needs to make changes. That's what coordinators do."

No, LaDainian, coordinators don't need me and every Charger fan alive to blast him for him to realize that you need the ball in an open space. But once again it doesn't matter what Schottenheimer or the players say in public. They need to realize why they haven't played a complete game yet. They need to stop trying to convince themselves that they "almost" won two games against tough competition.

Eli Manning is a non-issue. He did us a favor by forcing us to trade his bitchy ass. But to a lot of Charger fans, he has made this a must win. Unfortunately, the Chargers themselves have already made winning on Sunday Night essential. I'm tired of hearing about how we were 0-4 in '92 and 1-2 last year. Drew Brees claims that it was after their loss in Denver last season that the Bolts decided to take control of their season. No more post-game rationalizations. It's time for the Chargers to do something when it counts, during the game.

And Eli, no one talks that way about our pledges. Only we can talk that way about our pledges.


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