In the previous two seasons Schottenheimer coached, he had losing streaks of six (1998, Kansas City) and five (last year, Washington). In the 13+ seasons before that he had two streaks last three games and one more lasting four games. More impressive, in five seasons his clubs did not lose back-to-back games.
Yet it will not be Coach Schottenheimer who rights the ship this time. He will help but players are holding other players accountable.
First LaDainian Tomlinson spoke out with a fury after last Sunday's loss to St. Louis. He challenged the team's heart and went on to cover how the team folded down the stretch.
Honestly it was a good thing he spoke out. He is one of the new leaders on this team. He is upset when losses mount in the way they have the past two weeks against the Jets and Rams.
Then the next day he did not back down from his comments instead cementing them into the minds of his teammates.
"When we have a team like St. Louis down, we have to finish 'em. I think we're a real good ball club, but all I'm saying is that for us to take that next step and become a great team, you know, to go deep into the playoffs and possibly the Super Bowl; we have to step it up a little."
A Charger thinking about the future and the possibility of a Super Bowl berth. That is leadership.
Curtis Conway spoke to the offensive players about the importance of Sunday's game in an animated meeting on Wednesday.
"We all grown men, so you can't look to another man to get you going," Conway said. "If you are in this game and can't get yourself going, you don't need to be here. You got to tell the young guys, ‘Hey, you're just as good as anybody else out there.'"
A confidence booster from a cagey veteran. A year ago this team did not have the leaders it has today. Now everyone is part of a team and trying to be something special.
"We got to take it upon ourselves and get that attitude we had and get it back; that's the bottom line," said Tomlinson. "You just get too confident and you just forget you are playing in the NFL. You get that swagger and too big-headed to think you are going to go out and push this team around. Then all of sudden, they push you around."
Schottenheimer should be proud of this unit. He has spurned them on to greater things and a belief in themselves that they are in for greater things if they think and act like winners.
"It's not about him," Fred McCrary said of Schottenheimer. "It's about the players. We're the ones who play the games. It's up to us to go out and get it done. He can encourage us and teach us, but it's up to the leaders and everybody else on this team to have the attitude of, ‘Hey, we're going to get out of this funk.'"
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