The Justice Files

"There's such a fine line between stupid and clever."—David St. Hubbins Ah, Spinal Tap, you never stop teaching us.

I won't say that I wasn't thrilled to see the Chargers finally win on Sunday. But the Bolts showed some serious shortcomings and many of them are part of a pattern. Marty Schottenheimer joked that due to the pressure from the fans and media to throw the ball to LaDainian, "you guys are 1-0."

That's not funny, it's sad. What happened to "the other team was getting a good pass rush so we couldn't pass to him?" If I can tell by watching the first two games from 3,000 miles away that a screen pass to the best back in football would loosen everything up and the keep the defense honest, why can't a veteran head coach do the same? Of course, in true Camer-heimer form, the Chargers went from one extreme to the other. Instead of completely ignoring Tomlinson in the passing game, they started to throw to him repeatedly. Isn't the whole idea of playcalling to keep the other team guessing? Guys who play Madden even know that. Instead of being one step ahead of the opposition, we still seem to be lagging behind. As great as LaDainian Tomlinson is, he's even greater when the rest of the offense is keeping the other team on its toes.

But LdT is that great. I really believe he's the best player we've ever had. That's no disrespect to Fouts, Jefferson, Chandler, Winslow, Joiner, Humphries or Seau. I also know that some wouldn't put Stan on that list, while I'm sure anyone who followed the Bolts before I arrived on the scene (1978) would make some additions. But I'm constantly amazed at not only Tomlinson's immense talent, but his humility and subsequent work ethic. His fumble, although at a seemingly inopportune time, was simply an aberration. However, he still only seems to lose the ball against NFC teams (Philly '01, Tampa '04).

I'm also increasingly in awe of Antonio Gates' ability to bail us out on 3rd downs. Once Brees puts the ball up there, Gates simply imposes his will to come down with it. That's a former hoopster for you.

Keenan McCardell continues to be Brees' money target. He also showed a little giddyup running down Tomlinson's touchdown pass. Eric Parker really went up for one of those throws and showed some speed on the other.

Obviously, you've really got to hand it to Drew Brees. Not only was he able to avoid interceptions and sacks, but he also stepped up when our momentum really looked to be slipping.

I disagreed with just about everything Patrick, Theismann and Maguire said on Sunday night, but the most egregious proclamation they issued was that The Organization should carry both quarterbacks again next season. Why would we do that? This is the year we poop or get off the pot. We can't pay a backup what Brees or Rivers makes. This is Drew's year. If he proves he's the franchise quarterback, we could use Rivers' salary to get some real players in the secondary.

I was lambasted for suggesting last year that Quentin Jammer should be converted into a safety. There isn't a person alive who can convince me that he can play cornerback, least of all Jammer himself. The one time he knocked the ball away, he had to reach over the receiver's shoulder to poke it out. The scary thing is that he tries to do that every single time. He never turns around and could even be called for more penalties than he already receives.

At least Drayton Florence gets flagged FOR TRYING TO MAKE A PLAY ON THE BALL. Jamar Fletcher seems to have fallen off the grid. I'm not entirely sure why. Sammy "I Could Have Been Troy Polamalu" Davis was in on some crucial downs once again. He dropped that easy pick. Jue looked a little spotty and Terrance Kiel was actually told by Joe Theismann that "he needed to start playing defense." That might be the only thing he said all night (along with "how many long 3rd downs can the Giants get?") that I actually agreed with. In fact, I almost watched the entire game without sound. I used to think that Mike Patrick was at least the lone credible guy in that booth. But he's just become a sycophant to Thiesmann's spewing and Maguire's yucking.

I live in New York and I've never heard Eli Manning's name mentioned so often. What exactly has he done that affords him the leeway these guys gave him? He's not classy. If his last name wasn't Manning, Theismann would be ripping him for putting himself above the game. On the other hand, I loved that the Union-Tribune likened Manning to "Jughead," Riverdale's resident dimwit. That's perfect. Sadly, we gave him so much time in the pocket that he couldn't but help to find an open Jeremy Shockey.

Which brings us to this week. Wade Phillips ABSOLUTELY HAS TO find a way to get pressure on the quarterback, especially on third down. If it means calling more blitzes, then do it. If he has to bring Jammer, fine. Hitting is the only thing the guy can do. The guys who actually got a whiff of the pocket, couldn't wrap that bitch up. Marques Harris and Shawne Merriman were the lone exceptions. Luis Castillo needs to quit with the head slaps. You're not Deacon Jones.

Nate Kaeding apparently did some strengthening work to boost his kickoffs and it's showing. It was nice to see him nail another field goal, but we all wonder "what if" each time the ball sails through the uprights. Darren Sproles continues to look fantastic, although I actually called him Kenny Bynum at one point. I don't think that onsides kick attempt was such a great idea. We were lucky that Kiel went out of bounds. Once again, the fine line between stupid and clever. Scifres looked a lot better than he had the last two weeks.

As happy as I am to see the Bolts get off the schnide, they need to smarten up, especially on defense. It's not just the playcalling, they need to show some resolve. My wife grew so frustrated watching the Chargers surrender endless third downs and commit illegal shift and 12-men penalties that she almost reneged on her promise to go to Washington with me on November 27th. This weekend, my dad will join me in our first Chargers away contest since 1991 at the Meadowlands. The Bolts can pull it off, but they need to play with balls. I don't want to be screaming into my beer while Tom Brady rips us to shreds. I already went through that in 2001. We didn't want to be heading into Foxboro needing a "must win," but 1-3 doesn't look so good with Pittsburgh coming up on Monday Night. If the Chargers want to go to the next level, Sunday would be a good place to start. Until next week, you stay classy, San Diego.

-RLW


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