My wife and I are also staying with friends while our new home is supposedly being finished. Not only am I hoping to have Sunday Ticket for the home opener against the Titans, but I am looking forward to being reunited with the NFL Network. Beyond the preseason broadcasts, I keep seeing ads for the "Making The Squad" show with the Charger Girls and feel cheated that I'm missing out.
So far camp has been pretty controversy-free. I like that Olshansky is trying to assert himself more this season, although he needs to keep away from LaDainian Tomlinson's neck.
However, I was happy to read that Akbar Gbaja-Biamila introduced himself to Schottenheimer by mentioning that he was released by Oakland. I wonder if that was motivation for signing him? The one thing that I have never questioned about Marty for is our mutual hatred of the Traitors. In other news, Rashaun Woods' release officially rids the team of any trace of Sammy Davis. Even though The Candyman never panned out, I can't be too critical of AJ Smith for drafting him. I've brought up the fact that we could have had Polamalu in past columns, but a lot of teams passed on him as well. Then again, letting Rodney Harrison go would have made a lot more sense if we had taken Polamalu.
The safety position has been the focus of a lot of talk this offseason, beyond even in San Diego. Brian Dawkins just inked a big deal with Philly (as Ed Reed did earlier) and Pro Football Weekly's preview issue contained an article on how guys like Dawkins, Reed and Polamalu revolutionized the safety spot. When discussing Polamalu, comparisons to Rod Woodson were raised, but there was no mention of Harrison. That was pretty surprising. If Rodney didn't make it clear how he changed the way safeties were perceived during his time in San Diego, he certainly did in New England. Basically, the gist of the piece was that safeties used to be thought of as guys who couldn't cover any more, which is exactly what happened with Woodson. However, safeties are now recognized as the "quarterbacks" of the defense, who allow the corners to focus on coverage.
I mention this because these are the exact things that Marlon McCree, our only notable offseason signing, has mentioned in recent interviews. Coming from a winning team like the Panthers can't hurt, either. McCree talked about how corners are athletic players who really can't be burdened with thinking about where the other defenders are. It is the performance of our pass defense this year which will most likely decide how far we go. More even than Philip Rivers' progress, the secondary's ability to force mistakes and limit its own is the most important story of 2006.
Of course, I don't feel very confident when I read things like "Quentin Jammer had a few potential interceptions bounce off his hands," "Jammer was unable to keep McCardell from catching the ball despite having great position each time" and "Jammer committed two penalties on the day?" Jammer was LESS OF A LIABILITY last season, but that's not the same thing as being a playmaker. Plus, let's be honest, he looked a lot better by comparison when Drayton Florence regressed after a strong 2004. Florence reportedly looks great in camp. So why must he compete with Cromartie for the "starting spot opposite Jammer?" What exactly has Jammer done to be so firmly entrenched in a starting position? And why the hell am I reading that A.J. Smith has signed him to a new deal? If Donnie Edwards doesn't deserve a raise because he's not of an "impact" player, than Jammer needs to join Sammy Davis on the soup line.
If our front seven are anywhere nearly as confident as the Union-Tribune makes them out to be, they'll have even less tolerance for a leaky secondary than we will. Saturday will be interesting because the Bolts are more of a mystery this year than ever before. If I can't track down a bar with the game, I may be relegated to SIRIUS and TiVoing the highlights on ESPN.
In closing, I'd like to address this Mel Gibson insanity. It's bad enough that he's a raging Anti-Semite, but does he have to drag Patrick Swayze down with him? I just watched the new "deluxe edition" of Road House last night, and I wake up to read that the man who would be Dalton is now defending Gibson. Who says pain don't hurt?