The Justice Files

Leave it to the Bolts to try to screw up New Year's Eve. I'm exaggerating, slightly. This wasn't as bad as that December 31st a decade ago where Tony Martin let the ball hit him in the facemask in the end zone, en route to an interception. When a drunk Chris Mims showed up at The Murph the following morning to clean out his locker while dressed in a top hat and tails, the Chargers' ten-year postseason drought had officially begun.

On Saturday, we already knew the season would be over after the final gun. That's the sad thing. This game should have meant something. Sadly, all it proved was that Bolts have been lifeless in the season's most critical moments.

I'm not going to spend three pages JUSTIFYING why The Organization should fire Marty Schottenheimer. I expressed my opinion on that matter three years ago. What's so frustrating about Schottenheimer, and subsequently the Chargers, is the lack of accountability. I don't know if the rumors of A.J. wanting to fire Marty have any validity, but I do know that Smith is not big on excuses. That's all we ever hear from Schottenheimer.

I've lived in New York for my entire life, so you can expect me to shoot from the hip. But when San Diegans are storming the Union-Tribune's web site to call for Marty's head, you know that this has gone too far. Both of our coordinators are being considered for head coaching positions, but no one would hire our coach away from us. That should tell you something. Boomer isn't the only member of the media that thinks Marty is holding this team back. Alex and Dean Spanos claim to regret sticking with Beathard over Ross in '96. Don't make the same mistake twice, guys.

Of course, I was watching the Rose Bowl last night and realized that I was seeing more consistent offensive playcalling than I saw for the last eight games of the Chargers season. Remember when we used to go to a hurry-up offense in order to keep the opposition guessing? Three step drops to avoid the rush? Roll outs? Don't even get me started on our inability to run an effective screen. LaDainian Tomlinson deserves to be able to shine in the way Tiki Barber has.

We will never know how Brees' injury affected the Bolts' off-season plans at the quarterback position. I've written at length lately about how Brees crumbled down the stretch. I know our offensive line hasn't made things easy, but I'm ready to cut the cord. This is not because I'm sure that Philip Rivers will become a star. I just don't think Brees is worth taking that chance. It hurts to say, but that's how frustrated I am.

But I really don't think the Bolts will deal. Especially with the injury, they may try to keep both quarterbacks around for the short term. But we need to upgrade. We tried coming back with the same players as last year. We have cap money. I'd be fine eating Schottenheimer's $3 million, but I'll settle for some help on the offensive line and in the secondary. Yes, Quentin Jammer played better over the last eight games. No, that does not mean he is a good cornerback. When Dan Fouts spoke about Jammer's alma mater not being able to hold on to interceptions during the Rose Bowl, he might as well have been talking about our secondary. How many times did we watch them drop passes and then celebrate afterwards by making the incomplete signal? I'm talking to you, Drayton Florence. I actually saw him pumping his fist on Sunday when he could have been trying to make a play.

So there you have it. We need more talent and better use of that talent. I don't want to hear how the Bolts couldn't overcome a slow start or how they ran out of gas. Everybody in the NFL knows we have talent, but haven't shown the balls or brains to go with it. When A.J. Smith was asked by the Union-Tribune what disappointed him the most about this season, he said: "I'm disappointed in everything," he said. "We're not in the playoffs. I don't care about the schedule. I don't care about the East Coast trips. . . . Whatever the number (of victories) is to be in the postseason, just get to the postseason. It wasn't done. You don't lose four home games and hope to make any progress toward getting a playoff spot."

I agree wholeheartedly. I'm not suggesting that A.J. has all the answers, but I do know he's at least realistically looking at the problems. So the next time you hear the Spanoses or a Marty supporter suggest that he's untouchable, ask yourself why. What has this man done in San Diego to make him above reproach? Do you really believe he is the reason the team turned around last year? Are we really getting the most out of the players we have? Enough with this "we have a lot to build on" crap. Esiason was right to suggest that we didn't have nearly the injuries of other teams. It's not like our guys will stay young forever. Each opportunity needs to be treated like it is the last one you'll see for a long time. We need to start taking winning seriously or else it really will be.

-RLW


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