Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Crashed the Bandwagon Sunday...

This was not a post I wanted to pen. I thought long and hard about how to approach this; and after a good 27 minutes and a string of emails it still remained as it was. I thought, "Approach this creatively. Self, be creative." Yeah, that thought was extinguished rather decisively. I then thought, "Go for anger, yes, anger." And again, extinguished rather quickly. You've played that card out. So I settled passively and selected my angle. Honest feelings. Sucks, doesn't it?

Sunday morning was a glorious day out here in the town. Rolled out of bed dodging text messages about where and with whom the Bolt party would be taking place, and responded to most of them, "I'll be watching at home so I can curse at the t.v. in peace." And curse I did.

I'm not going to waste my time and yours with a full recap. Read any of the game recaps from this season, or even last season particularly during the first half of the year. Read any recap from any time of any year where losing was en vogue and shitty football was the recipe. There were some particular moments in this one that I will focus on later, but if I was grading this game I'd give it an F. Well, maybe an F+. Which as we know is like trying to watch porn in church. Totally pointless.

I held my breath in anticipation of Lord General Corleone's 2nd Quarter evaluation speech all day Monday. Nothing. I immediately popped open the computer Tuesday morning just for the sake of seeing if The Godfather had bestowed his words of wisdom, talking us off of the edge of the win wagon poised to leap as it careened out of control. Still nothing. Just strange silence. Then in an unprecedented move, we heard from the Dark Smith Lord. The axe finally fell. On the defensive coordinator. Ted, you will not be missed.

Replacing Teddy will be Ron Rivera, formerly of the Chicago Bears. Ron was interviewed prior to last season for various head coaching vacancies. Word was he'd make a fine head coach for any professional organization. The offseason came and went and Ron had not been selected for any of the vacant lead posts. In fact, he didn't even catch on as a Defensive Coordinator. He became our linebackers coach under Ted Cottrell.

Needless to say that if you'd like to focus on two of this team's most unflatteringly glaring weaknesses, first you'll have to ignore the lead incompetent and turn your gaze to the defense. The aspects of the defense that include but are not limited to, the pass rush and the linebacking. It's safe to say that both were demonstrably attributed to 'schemes' or a lack there of. Ted maintained that his 'schemes' did not change from last season. And I'd submit that they hadn't, during last season's slow start the defense looked eerily similar. It seemed as if there were a turning point last season, Teddy, newly motivated, turned the beasts free and an 8 game winning streak suddenly reared its mighty head. Turns out Ted may have not played any different schemes this year, but would he have, he may still be employed and we may not be 3-5 heading into a bye week I'm not sure we aren't going to lose.

Enter Ron Rivera to save the day. Mentor and coach to what would be the worst group of linebackers I've seen in Bolt uniforms in some time. Color me not impressed. Perhaps something should have been seen as wildly amiss, when as a favorite for a head coaching position, Rivera struggled to even find an assistant's job. I've heard of people not being good interviews and having that impact their ability to find work. Ron must have done something wholly inappropriate in order impact his employment status so dramatically. Thankfully, our excellent judges of character, namely the Spanos' found Ron a home here. And lo and behold, he's now by default the defensive coordinator. A defensive coordinator that couldn't coach the linebackers basic fundamentals of tackling again evidenced on Sunday. A linebacker coach that couldn't coach the linebackers to cover space in slant routes, cutting off angles, or teach them to protect the soft middle of the field. Might as well hire Lehman to manage your Washington Mutual deposits.

Much like the departure of the last head coach, this felt like a reactionary move that didn't really address the true problem. And to a degree it was. Does the defense have problems as hard to ignore as tits on a bull? Yes. Is this the move that will save the disaster that has become the first two quarters of the season, or where I come from a half season? That remains to be seen, but there are many other items that need to be addressed as well. Someday I'd like to see that bull though. I do like tits.

The elephant in the room is still the lead incompetent. I'm not willing to ignore or make excuses anymore for Norv Turner. His record was less than stellar prior to coming to San Diego. Better than 20 games under .500. Since becoming the head man here, his legacy as a loser has hardly been changed. As the driver of the Win Wagon, he's managed a 14-10 record. A 3-5 record with a team that has been described in the last calendar year as many things, 'superbowl favorites', 'most talented team in football', 'deepest squad', 'promising with a large window of opportunity', 'young and built to win'. Take your pick, they've all been used at one point or another. Yet, Norv, described as never having anything to work with in Washington and Oakland has managed to take our highly cliched, and heavily talented football team and steer them into a 3-5 record halfway through the season. Or as A.J. would put it, two quarters in. That my friend is a loser. Cemented by a legacy of losing. There is really no disputing that. He is not a leader. He is not a motivator. He is not a coach. He is an offensive coordinator. Coaches make a difference. Good coaches do not go on losing streaks as Turner has historically done. This man turned a Redskins team that started 7-1 (1996) into a 9-7 football team. He continued to turn the same Redskins franchise into a 7-6 team after a 6-2 start prior to being summarily fired before seasons end.

The discussion I've had a few times today is what to make of this. How deep does this loser mentality permeate the organization? Can it be measured? I say no. Is it obvious that there must be some correlation here? To me, I think it foolish to ignore that someone who is tainted by losing doesn't bring that in some way to the table each and every week. At each and every practice he leads, during each and every game. It's a stench that cannot be cleansed from his approach. It should not have been ignored during his hiring, and it should not be ignored now.

A.J. seemingly got his man. A man that would be a non factor in decision making with regard to personnel. Just run your offense Norv, seemed to be the message. Fear not, no one is asking you to be a leader, or to do the intangibles like making adjustments when plan A is no longer effective. Just captain the Win Wagon in the right direction and all praise will be heaped upon the Bad Ass Motherfucking John Wayne Cowboy Mafia Boss Corleone General Manager A.J. Smith. Dark Lord Smith for putting together this deep, talented, built through the draft home grown genius battleship of a football team. So, why is Norv not being held feet to the fire strung up in the town square by his neck as Marty seemingly was the entirety of his tenure here? Because Merriman is hurt? Injuries in the AFC Championship game? You can't tell me about the genius that is A.J. building the deepest team, and then in the next breath say we're not deep and can't overcome injury. Jyles Tucker got an extension for what I still don't know and there has been crazy talk that we won't be resigning Shawne Merriman. If Tucker really is the second coming of Merriman, how can you blame injury for our defensive woes? Perhaps we should revisit the fact that Marlon McCree is no longer with the team. A veteran leader playing safety has been replaced by a second year draftee who to date should be widely criticized for not being a professional football ready player. On Sunday, he received a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty for celebrating an interception with a hardly entertaining dancing fit epileptic in nature. Compounding the problem was that he celebrated an interception he didn't even make that was overturned via replay after having additional time to see the play on the jumbotron. I guess you really do need to wait three years to evaluate a draft.

That being said, we gave up some picks for both Weddle and our first round pick this year , Jacob Hester (Ed Note: Yes I'm an idiot, he was our third round pick, Cason being number one), who has yet to see the light of day in the regular season to any degree. To date, a third round draft pick who has 2 carries for 3 yards. Quite an impact player no? I hesitate to wonder where this is all going. Sure, many of A.J.'s moves have been successful, Merriman, Castillo, Rivers, need not argue any of those. Even Antonio Gates, who he signed as a free agent, then made demands of during a contract negotiation that went south and set an ultimatum for Gates to report or be suspended. Gates failed to meet the deadline, was suspended, and the game which he missed was lost. What needs to go not unnoticed are the other moves, the release of Marlon McCree, the release of Lorenzo Neal, and the ungraded last two drafts as well as the future drafts that are affected by having fewer draft picks as a result. The future doesn't look so bright I need shades to quote a relatively obscure Canadian pop icon that contributed to the downfall of American Music. IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT COREY HART!!!

I find it entertaining that the last time we had this modern day cowboy type for a general manager, and heaped praise on him for his drafting philosophy and successes, he was eventually run out of town tail tucked firmly between his balls after failure after failure mounted up and the future of the squad had already been mortgaged. We called him Bobby Beathard. Are the Weddle's and the Hester's of this new class the updated versions of the Mikhael Ricks' and Brian Still's? Still to tough to say, but parallels be damned.

Again, after all the doom and gloom I watched a football game Sunday morning. I saw some more of the same and a bit of the unfamiliar. I was tremendously irate with a 3rd and 5 running play on the game's potentially tying drive, that drew a net of two yards and put us in a 4th down situation, limiting the play book. I hated that call and we know where that came from. I did however enjoy the resurgence of LTD. His greatest game of the season, real passion showed from him for the first time in a while. I was a little disappointed they didn't screen him more, yet I'd let that slide. I liked seeing Gates finally getting involved to a degree in which I recognized him. I didn't like Vincent Jackson's dropped 72 yard touchdown pass. I didn't like that at all. I was mostly disappointed all the way through though, and it didn't get any better when it was over.

I took a bike ride to a local watering hole to grab a beer and try to forget the most recent debacle. I was doing a bit of a fishing expedition as well, to gauge the fervor of the fans, the ones proudly displaying Bolt Blue with their favorite numbers adorning their backs. Most everyone was disappointed but optimistic. Some had derogatory things to say about some aspect, the refs blowing the Cletus Gordon pass interference call, only one mentioned the coaching. I asked a trio of jersey clad 'locals' what they thought of the coaching. If they in fact thought that anything needed to be done. The response was, "You're off the bandwagon already? Typical don't you think? First sign and you're gone huh? Good. Stay off dude."

Yep. That's what I got as a response. Instead of pursuing a situation where I crack a barstool over his head, I just nodded and acknowledged that no I was not in fact off of the bandwagon, but I had in fact hijacked the fucking thing and I was careening it into the nearest fire engulfed brick fucking wall. Yep, it's all my fault and I'm willing to take that responsibility on my own. Norv, you are off the hook for at least two weeks, this one's on me...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh Wait. Never-Fucking-Mind.

Looks like we're only going to need to win like two more games to get into the playoffs anyway. What's the point in trying then? We can accidentally make it into the postseason at this rate. The postseason. Where anything can happen. Like fucking Disneyland. Fucking stupid football.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Balls, Balls, Balls...

You know? There's been far too much depressing shit going on over here for what seems like far too long lately. This team has many times in its history tested my ability to continue with a rooting interest in their success. I've truly invested all of my being in this squad for as long as I can remember. I mean, I still look at the picture of me with Dan Fouts when I was four at my mom's house with fondness and wonder. I look at my old autographs and behave like a juvenile little child still to this day. I'm a fucking full grown adult. What's wrong with me?

Nearly two years ago I halfheartedly quit the football team. That New England debacle in January on our field sent me off of the wagon. It took me all of last season to muster up the ability to care about the team again. I didn't want the letdowns to plague me anymore. The team didn't feel familiar to me and the people running the team I was not particularly fond of. It wasn't difficult to put a little distance between us. I walked around knowing full well that the season would be a failure and that only winning football games would surprise me. So of course, when they got their act together and strung together victory after victory and then left the playoffs a tremendous disappointment yet again, I wasn't surprised. I was just sad. Sad that it happened. Sad that it happened again. Sad that it was further cementing our legacy as a failed squad.

Enter 2008. Expectations for the squad still at all time highs. Fan loyalty brimming with confidence. Super Bowl talk dominated the offseason national landscape. Everyone was on board with Bolts. It was nearly a foregone conclusion that this year, this was our year. I wanted more than anyone to believe. I even think I tried to convince myself that I believed. Yet nothing really has changed. Yes, I know there are injuries, Shawne, LTD, Antonio, everyone is seemingly hurt. But this team was sold to us by A.J. who had built the depth of the squad through the draft and he is a damned genius so Super Bowl be ours. They told us about the depth of the team so often, that it's amazing to me that it's so quickly forgotten now. If not for injuries it's for schemes, the defense isn't effective but Teddy isn't doing anything differently than he did last year, and I'd agree. He's doing nothing differently than he did in the series of losses that mounted up last year. And well, let's not forget the head man in charge, he of the losing regular season record, a legacy of disappointment in Oakland, and I'd rather not even repeat some of the good things they say about Norv in Washington.

What now? What now fellas? I'd almost pay to hear Mr. Canepa weigh in on the subject of the worst pass defense in the league, an ineffective at best running game, and the overall continuing lack of leadership that permeates the organization from top to bottom. Suffice to say that all stadium issues aside (Good Luck Spanos, with that publicly funded job now.) that there are issues are slightly more prevalent. I'd run down the list for the umpteenth time in this space, but really, I don't have the desire, and you probably don't want to hear it.

Funny thing is, I don't feel as awful as I have in the past as a reaction to the crushing disappointment. It feels so familiar to me anymore, you know, the leadership gaffes, the disappointing play, the familiar underachieving, all of it. I'm hardly even surprised it's happening yet again. I didn't even care to watch the afternoon session of the NFL yesterday. I took a walk instead.

I've made that halfhearted attempt to quit this team in the past. I don't think that will happen again. I don't want to quit on purpose. But it's slipping away, a legacy of disappointment and failure and loss after loss after loss in big situations adds up. At some point it will become insurmountable. I find that I just won't allow myself to care that much anymore and it's taking less effort than ever.

Perhaps this is the wake up call the team needs. Perhaps this is the point in which the season turns itself around and everything comes up platinum roses. There is still a lot of football to play and the division is surely not out of reach. Just color me a bit skeptical that this tiger can change its stripes when it's shown no propensity to do that, well, ever.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fuck That Shit.

I just don't know if I have it in me any longer. The city of San Diego is a melting pot within a country that is a melting pot of it's own. I don't know what the exact figures are, but some days it feels like the population hovers at around 90% transplants. And for some inexplicable reason, most of them harbor a deep loathing for our local sports teams. I've heard it said it's because our fan base gets too excited when our teams succeed even though we have won no titles. That's right, people hate our teams because we cheer for them. It's really hard to deal with that kind of attitude. I get it at work. I get it when at the local watering hole. And as I was walking home in my Philip Rivers jersey after another abysmal loss today, I was heckled by a 13 year old. I think they may have won. I think I might be done. I hate this team.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Week 7 Gem...

First and foremost a hearty congratulations to the squad for not sucking raw eggs Rocky style last Sunday on national television against the non-rival dickfaces. From my vantage point, Vinny Jack and Malcom were somewhat stellar in an almost professional football sort of way. There is a new mantra around here, at least one that I'm adopting and were I some sort of COACH I'd be preaching to the squad. One week at a time fellas. Let's not get all crazy with Super Bowl delusions and just handle one week at a time. Next up. Buffalo. Or Toronto? I can't remember.

Second. I'd like to take this space and your time to say to all who are touting this as a difficult game due to cross country traveling, uh, (pausing for composure) it's 2008. It's not 1848. We're not traveling by covered wagon or by train. It doesn't take 3 days to cross the country. We're not hold up in a the cargo by of a C-130 going to some remote base in some remote desert to fight some remote enemy. The squad is flying charter plane, with more than likely better than coach accomodations to Buffalo. That's a 6 hour flight. They aren't going to the moon. Let's not pretend that a first class charter flight to Buffalo is an impossible feat to overcome. It's not. And since we're at it, New England and Arizona had to play two consecutive weeks across the country and decided to stay in their respective cities during the week to practice and avoid further 'most difficult' cross country travel. The Pats went to Gay Town North, won, then held up in San Jose during the week for practice, made the trek down to America's Finest Bankrupt City and lost. Then went home tail between nutsack and taint. Arizona went to Favretown, lost, stayed there, practiced, and lost again. In conclusion, keeping players from their homes, families, familiar surroundings and practice facilities to avoid cross country luxury travel is rather unsuccessful as well. Let's not reinvent the wheel here fellas. There is no built in excuse. If the Bolts go to Buffalo and lose, it's not because they had to get on an airplane okay? Good, glad we got that settled hamburger tits.

Third, (please pardon the baseball interlude) I'd like to send a thank you card via snail mail USPS to Gabe Gross of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays of Sunshine or whatever the hell the Selig Enterprise is calling them now. It reads like this:

Dear Gabe,

You are a professional right fielder for a professional baseball team playing for a chance to go to the world series against the Boston Red Sox. When a baseball is hit to you in the 8th inning, and you play it like a professional, picking it up on one hop after setting yourself to make a professional throw 150 feet to home plate in order to cut down the tying run in a playoff series clinching game, please don't pucker up your asshole and spike the ball to the first baseman who is standing 50 feet from you. He is not there to cut off the baseball. I'm instrucing you with knowledge garnered from the Tom Emansky school of baseball to throw the ball like a professional baseball player should, all the 150 feet to home and cut off that rather significant tying run. Hit the trashcan my friend. I emplore you. Fuck dude. I play right field. I can make that throw. I'm not even a professional. Shit, my niece could make that throw. She's fucking 8 and a half. Gabe, for the love of ice cream dude, make the fucking throw.



Baseball distraction over. Bolts, this message is for you. Go across the country. Kick the piss out of the Buffaronto Bills and kill their college concussed quarterback and come home victors. Thank you.

And Cheerleaders, flexible ones...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

State of the Union...

Since the Godfather in these parts evaluates the season in quarters, let's call this the State of the Union address for the season to date. I know that the first quarter is over and that we are about a third of the way through the football season and that much closer to suffering through what will be another dismal baseball effort, so let's recount what's happened thus far...

The team is shitty. Sorry if that ruins your Super Bowl delusions that has seemingly infected most rational people in these parts since June. This is no Super Bowl team. This isn't even a good team. Five games into the season and here we sit with a losing record against very mediocre football teams. There are some issues that are easy to identify. Since Nick Canepa and Godfather A.J. Wayne won't identify them, please allow me to present them on a silver platter for your enjoyment. Call me glib, call me pessimistic, call me a realist. Time to stop drinking the Kool Aid and get your heads out of the sand. In no particular order...

* Vanilla. The offense is vanilla. There is no creativity. There is no thought. There is no plan. There is, a bunch of ego. There is an entitlement complex. There is an overall feeling that we are owed something. We're not. Other teams are flat out busting our ass wide open and guys look confused and frustrated. Antonio Gates has disappeared. Why? I know why... you have to wait a few more bullets to find out.

* Ahh...., defense. Should be called offense cause it's fucking offensive. Today was whatever word you can think of that means the same as utter complete colossal joke. It was interesting enough that Denver was able to put up a full shitload of points against us with nothing more than an S.E.C. offense, but today, Miami actually turned us into a short bus full of kindergarden level retards on the defense. I've seen Miami's offense before. It was in Pop Warner. Earlier I thought I'd seen it in High School football, but that was wholly inaccurate. I've only seen that work in Pop Warner. Perhaps Matt Wilhelm was a bit premature by doing Joey Porter's sack dance in the first quarter instead of remembering to tackle Ronnie Brown. And hey, whoever over there is in charge, why are we sagging nearly 12 yards off the line of scrimmage on outside receivers such as Greg Camarillo and Ted Ginn? Really? 12 yards against those guys? Miami routinely picked up five yards a pop on the outside cause we let Chad 'noodle arm' Pennington off the hook. Five yards a pop is a pretty good average when you only need two downs to make another first down. Even 'noodles' himself can throw a simple out when there is no press coverage. Hmmmmm, funny.

* That being said, hey coaches! Coaches? Today you fail. A.J. and Nick may grade the season in quarters and deemed Q1 a success by giving it a C grade. C's are average, lord knows C's got me through college, less because I'm stupid and more because I was lazy, but Q1 was no success. It was no C. It was a complete failure. Two and two is successful? Funny that a team with Super Bowl aspirations would be satisfied with two and two. Needless to say that the failure continued yet again today with what can be considered at least by me, to be the worst coached football game in the Turner era. Horrifyingly bad. I can list about a hundred items about the game I disliked, but we'll focus on the end of the game. Specifically with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Use your time outs. Preserve the clock. Instead, we didn't, the Sparano and the fucking thyroid challenged Tuna kept running Pop Warner formations and we kept coughing up first downs. Skip to two minutes and change left, and we continued to do the same, not using the two minute warning as a backstop, but saving those timeouts. That two minute stop gap came and went and we never secured the ball again. I know a little about football. And gee, do you need to be a genius to get somebody like Antonio Gates (told you I'd come back to this) into the game? Why are we going away from what made us so successful under the previous regime that got run out of town after a 14-2 season? Really? No more Gates? At all? Seems rather uh, what's the word?.... idiotic? Yes, idiotic... to me at least. I'm certainly not at any kind of professional level when it comes to football strategies, but it's funny that I feel like I know more about football than the people captaining this ship and careening it into the same iceberg that claimed the Titanic.

* Disclaimer: This may be the hardest thing I write perhaps ever. Ladainian Tomlinson is finished as a Charger. Sorry to have to be the bearer of such harsh news. LTD wants to quit football. It's readily apparent and it's in his body language and his blatent lack of performance. It was a nice run with LTD but there will be no more references to him as TBE, as some call him, "the best ever.". No more. LTD wants to take his ball and go home. Don't believe me? Fine. Don't believe me. I'll lay out some evidence and you can judge it as you will. But don't jade yourself like the first O.J. jury and think it isn't true because this is fact my friend. Straight FACT. Last week Mr. TBE got a little hung up on a handoff with ol' Marmalaard. Turned out not to work out so well for the home squad and Phil fumbled the exchange and a safety was born. Today, ol' Marmalaard and LTD had yet another problem with an exchange, where Phil nearly tripped over LTD trying to hand him the ball. Last week, a free defender came mashing through the line and LTD saw him and cut off his play. He did not run to his spot and Phil wound up on an island trying to hand off the football to someone who did not want the exchange. LTD was afraid to take a hit and opted out of the play. The result? Safety. Today, Joey Porter came free and ol' LTD came up short, didn't run to his spot, afraid of taking a hit. Phil nearly tripped over him and almost fumbled again. This lands squarely and wholeheartedly on the running back. And really, do we need to bring up the 4th down play from the 3/4 yard line where the handoff went to TBE and he tiptoed his way to the line of scrimmage. Funny how I remember a time where TBE would launch himself over everyone and land 5 yards deep in the end zone. Now, he tiptoes to the line and gets smeared and we get no touchdown. So..., LTD, I'm speaking to you. If you are afraid of the big bad defense, get off the field. If you are hurt and you can't perform to the point where you can take a handoff without being afraid, or get into the end zone from 30 inches away, get off the field. Stop pouting and get off the field. You are slowly becoming an open wound on this team. I'm never buying any of the t.v.'s you are so busy hocking, cause you are becoming a disgrace. If you don't like football, stop playing. Quit pretending that you are a football player cause you look like a bitch.

So. There it is. Do with it what you will. There will be no happy cheerleader photo to follow and no more rah rah bullshit. Take this team for what it is. Mediocre at best. At BEST. To quote the great Ron Burgundy, "Go fuck yourself San Diego."