The Justice Files

When I agreed to do a 5-minute "Justice Radio" program on www.isportscaster.com, I never considered that it would force me to share my initial reactions after watching a Charger game. The feedback I've received falls clearly into 2 categories. Friends of mine who are not among The Legion Of The Lightning Bolt were surprised at my critical tone following a victory. Charger fans, of course, understood and shared my exasperation.

The Bolts once again were unable to put away an opponent they had teetering on the ropes. However, I can't really blame the second-half on Marty Schottenheimer and Cam Cameron. The offense didn't crawl into its shell after jumping out to yet another big lead. I don't even fault Marty for kicking a field-goal when we are on the 1-yard line. To go for it would have been almost overcompensating for the disaster in Philadelphia. It would be as if the Chargers were saying that they HAD to go for it because they were afraid another disaster might befall them.

Of course, the Jets then scored a touchdown and attempted a two-point conversion which would have pulled them within a field goal. To Wade Phillips' credit, the defense was aggressive and turned the Jets away. Has there been anything but positive results this season when the Chargers blitz? Either we hurry the quarterback's delivery, bat down the ball or get a sack. Honestly, I can't remember the Bolts blitzing frequently enough to actually get burned on a blitz. It seems that the defense only surrenders chunks of yardage when they play back on their heels.

When Schottenheimer kicked the field-goal, he probably never thought for one second that Drew Brees would revert back to 2003 and fumble the ball on a blind side hit. I know I didn't. Then Donnie Edwards, the last person you'd think would lose their cool, committed a personal foul, albeit out of frustration. It's almost as if he changed roles with another Charger defender. Ironically, it was Quentin Jammer who saved the game on fourth down. The Jets, perched on the Chargers' seven, found themselves in almost the identical position that the Bolts did against Dallas. When the pass rush put heat on Bollinger on 3rd down, their ensuing swagger didn't reek of foolish conceit. They seemed to actually be gaining confidence that they could finish this one out. On the final play, I'm not convinced that Jammer was as ready to knock the ball away as he would later describe. He didn't exactly look like he had his eyes on the ball. However, he saw just enough of it to hit it away and the Chargers finally won a close one AND posted a winning record for the first time all season.

Of course, it never should have been that close. While Brooks Bollinger is better than Testaverde right now, it's not as if we were overmatched. We were lucky that the Jets stayed with the run as long as they did. LaDainian Tomlinson, who can say whatever he wants after scoring four touchdowns, said on Monday that the offense shouldn't change its strategy in the second half just because they ASSUME that the defense will make adjustments. I agree, but what about if the defense shuts down our passing game? I'm not even referring to Sunday's game, necessarily. But it's not like we shouldn't make adjustments if the defense puts all their focus into stopping one part of our offense. That's why Tomlinson AND Gates are so tough to stop. We should stick to what we do best, but to be stubborn to a fault is the pure definition of "Martyball."

But the Chargers did mix it up pretty well on Sunday. I'm surprised that Drew hasn't publicly apologized for his two turnovers because they were the biggest reason that the game was as close as it was. He thanked LaDainian for turning the swing pass into a touchdown, but the key was that Brees didn't turn towards Tomlinson until he was in the open field. By not tipping his hand too early, he gave LT (I'm finally ready to drop the "d") space to do what he does best.

It would be nice to think that Quentin Jammer, of all people, being the one to make the last play, might shake some sense into the Chargers. There is no question that they seem to play to the level of their competition this year. They will have a week for Foley, Kiel, Florence and Co. to heal. I can't say that I'm convinced that the Bolts can close out a quality team, but I'm still in the market to be convinced. I wouldn't be surprised if Denver falls to the Traitors this weekend and I think they'll drop a few along the way. If the Bolts truly understand that any more than two losses from here on in will end their season, November 20 would be a nice time to show it. Enjoy the week off.

-RLW


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