Everybody commended Marty and Cam for not being complacent once the Chargers took an 18-point lead.
I'm starting to really believe that my definition of "Marty Ball" is a lot different from everybody else's.
To me, that term refers to Schottenheimer's stubborn ways catching up with him and playing into the opposition's hands. Once we grabbed the big lead, it seemed like Camer-heimer was so concerned with being labeled conservative that they simply ignored LaDainian Tomlinson and the running game. I know that the offensive line felt that they didn't open up a lot of holes against Kansas City, but I didn't get the sense that we wanted to get Tomlinson going on the ground.
The defense saved our behind on Sunday, but they shouldn't have had to. Drew Brees is a very good quarterback, but we can't expect that he can stand back there and pick any decent defense apart without the threat of a running game. It just seemed like we went from one extreme against Philly to another against Kansas City.
Caldwell's fumble was especially troubling, but Brees' pick was completely unnecessary. As great as Gates is, there is no reason not run LT outside. He's been commended for "taking one for the team" and helping with the pass protection, but I didn't see a lot of scripted plays designed to get him into the open field. Drew still hasn't really mastered the screen pass and subsequently threw a couple into spaces where Tomlinson could either snag it with one hand or find himself surrounded.
Don't get me wrong. I was very happy that the Bolts beat a division rival at home. But there are still some troubling signs that the Chargers haven't smartened up since January. They continue to make things harder on themselves than they need to be and that's why they have trouble finishing off good teams.
Many people don't view the Jets as a good team right now. But they have always brought out the worst in the Bolts. They've always attacked the Chargers and we haven't been able to respond. Here in New York, the papers are once again joking about how Tomlinson has more touchdown passes than the entire Jet quarterbacking ensemble. I know that the Jets aren't at anywhere near full strength. Even though many Jets fans have privately conceded the season due to the rash of injuries, the crowd will be pumped up, albeit cynically if the Bolts stumble. That's what I'm most worried about. My biggest concern is the Chargers shooting themselves in the foot.
\When the season began, I wrote about how we needed to learn from the playoff loss. We needed to look down deep and admit that we didn't play the same style of football that got us into the postseason to begin with. The Jets should be commended for their work in the trenches, but it seemed like the Bolts didn't toughen and smarten up until they found themselves down. Once they pulled themselves even, they went back to the same passive style that got them in trouble to begin with. I'm still not satisfied that they've figured it out. I want to believe it, desperately. But they need to finally pull themselves over the .500 mark before the bye week.
This game represents a serious hurdle. The Jets could feel sorry for themselves, but they won't. The Chargers need to defeat their own self-destructive tendencies on Sunday. If Marty needs to tell the team that it's an 8-game season or use the three consecutive losses against the Jets as motivation, I'm all for it.
Ironically, I'll be watching the game on TV. I'm going to Washington on the 27th, but figured I'd take the rare opportunity to root from my living room. Nick Canepa wrote that the Chargers should be forced to walk home if they lose on Sunday. I know that they are taking the Jets seriously, but the Bolts should also carry the chip on their shoulder that will be required to beat them. If they are really that pissed about the four lost opportunities this season, they'd better remind themselves why they happened. It's not a product of bad luck. Those losses were the product of poor decisions. They will only be worth something if we learn from them. We've already seen A.J. Smith's deep draft help us weather some injuries. As fans, we've suffered a hell of a lot this year. But I'll stomach it all if the Chargers can learn that simple lesson.
In the words of the late Rod Serling, at the end of that most classic of Twilight Zone episodes, "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street":
‘They pick the most dangerous enemy they can find and it's themselves.'
Words of warning not limited to The Twilight Zone,