Hey, I've got a question. Where did all the Raider fans go?
Now to the letters:
I am a devoted fan up here in the Bay Area. In your assessment, did Marty and the team actually do pretty well given their talent base or could have different coaching adjustments led to a very successful season? Yes, they were 6-1, but after the first two gimmie games on the schedule, all the wins were close, implying they were not a dominant team. So one way of viewing the second half was the law of averages just caught up to an average team. Another way is that coaching staff had a model that worked in the first half, teams adjusted, but Marty and crew did not counter very well. Further, it frustrates me to hear Marty describe losses being attributable to players not "making plays". This implies that the scheme called was correct given the talent but somehow the player just fell down or something. Was that the case, or was he being rigid in his play calling and not adjusting to the actual talents of his players?
Jay, San Francisco
Sadly Jay, I think it's more of the coaching staff not making adjustments rather than the players not making plays, although I recognize that this Chargers team is still a bit short on talent. I'm not a believer in having a scheme and making players fit to it. Rather, I believe in judging the players abilities and playing schemes to their strengths. The Giants switched to a 3-4 defense when they drafted Lawrence Taylor and the 49ers didn't run the run n' shoot with Joe Montana at the helm. That is why I am concerned about the Chargers trying to run the Cover 2 much like the Buccaneers. It's hard not to argue the Bucs' success with it and there's nothing wrong with wanting to emulate it, but the Chargers don't have Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, and Ronde Barber on this squad, do they?
You've got a fan in me. I like your column, although it's a little too similar to Dr. Z on SI. Maybe you could try something different? I'm wondering what you think of Marty Schottenheimer after year one. I was a little skeptical when he was first hired mainly because of his playoff record, but now I'm worried that his style will eventually hurt this team. What do you think?
Brian, San Diego
You are probably referring to Marty Schottenheimer's conservative nature on offense. Well, if that's the case, I'm afraid I have the same concerns. Although, to his credit, he knew that the strength of this team was running the ball and so he played that card to the hilt. It's hard to lean on a young QB entering his first year as the starter, so thus he went with a good young running back. I'm hoping that with a year under his belt and with a receiving corps that will improve with the draft or free agency, we will see a more diverse offense next season.
As for any resemblance to Paul Zimmerman's column on sportsillustrated.com, I have no idea what you're talking about…
I love your column. It's made for a nice non-East Coast bias in the media. I'd like to know what you think the Chargers need to do in the offseason to make a run at the Super Bowl. Hell, if the Bucs and Pats and Ravens can do it, why not us?
Christina, Orange County
Looks like the ladies line is open! Well, the recent trend of first time Super Bowl winners continued with the Buccaneers this year, so why not us indeed?
But alas, it's not that easy. The Chargers look committed to implementing the Cover 2 on defense which means they need speed, speed, speed in that secondary. If Rodney Harrison is going to be blown out (and many indications say that they will), then a safety is a big need position. I still think they need a possession receiver to either complement or replace Curtis Conway (another possible salary cap casualty) to make those tough 3rd down catches. Defenses will continue to stack the line with 7 or 8 men until the Chargers show that they can throw the ball and they have people who can make plays consistently at the WR position.
One position that I haven't heard people talk about much is the kicker position. The Bolts have already gotten rid of Wade Richey. Since Steve Christie is a free agent, where do you think they will go with that? I heard that John Carney is a free agent in New Orleans. Think he could return to the team that shouldn't have let him go in the first place?
Craig in San Diego
I agree that Carney shouldn't have been replaced, especially by Wide Richey, but bringing him back now wouldn't solve the Chargers' kicking problems. I love John Carney and all of the charitable contributions that he made in San Diego, but he's three years older, and doesn't have the strong leg that this team needs.
Now that Peyton Manning and Mike Vanderjagt have kissed made up and Jason Elam has re-signed with the Broncos, there isn't much out there via free agency. The only viable kicker available is Paul Edinger of the Bears who is a RFA and will require draft pick compensation if he is signed by another team. If there is no one else, I would welcome John Carney back, but only if there's no other option.
I'm sure that you are for building a new stadium for the Chargers since you're a big sports guy (as am I), but could you come up with a solid reason why money from someone who doesn't watch, follow, or even like football should be spent for something like a stadium?
Stewart in La Jolla
My wife and I don't have children yet, so does that mean any of our tax money should go toward public schools? What if I don't drive? Should any of my money go toward freeway repair? You see, that's the point. Our tax money is for the benefit of the entire city, not just for what you or like or use constantly.
If that wasn't enough of a reason, I would appeal to the money grubbers like this. If San Diego became part of the regular Super Bowl rotation as a result of the new stadium, the city could see anywhere from $200M to $300M poured into local businesses every four years. How's that for the bottom line?
Thanks to all writing in, please feel free to drop me a line regarding any matter, and your comments could be the next ones published. Please make sure to leave your name and city of residence so we can accurately credit your questions.
Dr. J answers readers' questions in his weekly column exclusively at Chargers Update. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and welcome letters of any kind. Dr. J can also be reached via the following link: Dr. J's Mailbox
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