The Justice Files

As Charger fans, we should be most thankful during this holiday season that Antonio Gates ended up with only a sprain after Lawyer Milloy fell on his ankle last week. Ironically, it was right before the play in which he was injured that I mentioned to Sammy that Schottenheimer should start putting in the backups.

However, the first player I suggested pulling was Drew Brees, since he was having such a phenomenal day that I thought we'd better make sure he didn't get hurt. I understand Marty's position, though. He might act like he doesn't care what the fans and media say, but it was no accident that he went for it twice on 4th down. He knew that the Bolts needed get back that killer instinct that they displayed in all 12 of their wins last season. Of course, he went into his shell against the Colts and Jets, two games that drastically impacted our fate. But this team needed to figure out how to go for the jugular again. If they start with an inferior opponent, maybe they will continue the trend the next time they play a playoff-caliber team.

In fact, I thought that Bill Parcells was guilty of the dreaded "playing not to lose" philosophy yesterday against the Bunkos. That 3rd-and-1 pass that was thrown behind the line of scrimmage was indicative of that sort of conservativeness. Sure, the Cowboys were victimized by Billy Cundiff's missed field goal in the 4th quarter. But that kind of thing can happen when you get passive. It was clear that the Big Tuna was playing for OT after the miss and it came back to bite him in his ample behind. While it would have been nice to see Denver lose, maybe this will keep the Chargers sharp since they know there is very little margin for error right now.

Where was I? Marty was intent on the Bolts keeping the heat on until they closed this one out. Cam Cameron should be applauded as well. When Nick Canepa finally interviewed him for the Union-Tribune, the last sound byte indicated that he calls 98% of the offensive plays. When you watch the video, however, you have to wade through a couple of minutes of Cameron raving about what a great teacher (and de facto boss) Schottenheimer is. In fact, you don't actually hear Canepa ask him the question about who calls the plays. You just hear Cameron's response. But I applaud him for at least doing so since it's the only thing any of us would want to know.

So Antonio Gates is OK, although it is unclear whether he will play on Sunday. While we would be in serious trouble if he were out for the year, I truly believe that we could win these next three games without him. I may be in the minority of Charger fans who support A.J. Smith's decision to suspend Gates for the season opener. I think it caused Gates to sign a long-term deal for less money and sent a message to future contract-seekers. But there isn't any among The Legion Of The Lightning Bolt who can argue that we shouldn't have won that game anyway.

While we're on the subject of A.J. Smith, while everyone is demanding that Drew Brees be given a long-term deal immediately, has anyone considered that Smith's machinations brought out the best in Brees. The Jets are feeling the effects of committing a lot of money to a quarterback right now. Drew Brees has not had the same problems with injuries as Chad Pennington, Drew's leadership and dramatic increase in consistency may very well have been the result of his constant need to prove himself.

Right now, that applies to the entire team. The Skins won't be pushovers. They will be angry after losing to the Traitors at home last week. But we'll be fired up as well. If Gates can't go, Drew can go to McCardell, Parker and Caldwell.

Much has been written about Keenan's first full season in San Diego and deservedly so. But Eric Parker has been fantastic this year and hasn't gotten nearly enough credit for it. Also, I don't hear anyone blasting The Organization for not matching the Dolphins' offer for Hudson Houck these days. This line has had injuries that last year's didn't come close to dealing with. Even with Oben due to miss another game, they've a good job, especially lately.

Washington has a tough defense. It might be a good week to give LaDainian a few more touches. Lorenzo Neal should be credited for bulling his way to his first touchdown, but I think those plays may have lost their novelty. If the Chargers feel extra incentive to win when Marty faces Oakland, then they must want to get this one for him as well.

Shawne Merriman, our newly-minted Defensive Player Of The Week, will be returning to the DC area and looking to impress. Castillo, Phillips and even Matt Wilhelm really stepped it up last week. Drayton Florence returned to action and looked good. I didn't see much of Quentin Jammer last week, which meant that he was staying with his man. However, I'm still more concerned with him turning around when the ball comes his way. I don't need to remind you about the problems he's had with Santana Moss in the past.

The Chargers know that one more loss and the "Era of Good Feelings" will come to a screeching halt. The only major need for improvement from a week ago was the kick coverage. Keading's hip is apparently hindering his kickoffs, so Scifres might get the call on Sunday. I don't see any reason why he shouldn't kick off. If Nate continues to do a good job on field goals I think we'll all be satisfied. The way the offense has been playing, it's not like Scifres has been that busy anyway.

This is a must win, but I believe that the Bolts already know that. Now they just need to play like it. Sammy and I will be in Washington for this one. Look for us in Sec 433 Row 25 Seats 8 and 9. That's all for now.

Rest in peace, Pat Morita


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