Man, we are a spoiled lot out here in San Diego. All of us convinced that a climb back to the top from a 2-5 start was not only possible, but inevitable. Looking around the bar yesterday as the seconds ran out in a miserable game against a miserable team that sealed our miserable fate, the shock was tangible. Maybe it was my fault for never following through on a deal made with the Football Gods years ago, or maybe it was CJ's fault for calling this letdown before kick-off. Or just maybe the writing was on the wall. Here's what I'll remember about this disaster of a season:
The defections: Several key contributors left this past offseason. For some, like LT and Jamal Williams the time had probably come. But what about Kassim Osgood? Grand special teams contributor leaves town and the his old chums let us down early and often.
The holdouts: All year we were forced to patch together a workable receiving corps due to injury. It's hard to believe our best receiver wouldn't have helped out a bit during that early start. And it's hard to believe our QB would have spent as much time on the ground if our best offensive lineman had had his back for the first 6 games of the season.
Our smug GM: Have you ever seen someone so satisfied with themselves for "winning" a battle of wills with a player's dimwitted agents? AJ Smith created a poisonous work environment with his hardball bullshit, and the real losers here were the team on the field and the fans in the stands.
Our stingy owner: Dean Spanos saved millions on the Vincent Jackson holdout. That's good business.
Our lousy coach: Perhaps the saddest thing to come of this season is that without a total collapse there is no way our coaching situation is fixed. Norvelle started the season by claiming that this was the best Chargers team he had coached yet, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Due to his inability to make adjustments, his "They'll never see this coming" style of playcalling and his brand of all out panic (see the second Raiders game), that best team of his might finish .500 on the season. That would be his second .500 season in 4 years since taking over a 14-2 team.
They'll never see this coming: Whether it's starting a game with a tricky reverse against a team you shouldn't need a tricky reverse to beat or if it's trying to punch in a TD with Jacob Hester rather than putting the ball in the hands of one of the game's best players, Norv's silly playcalling gambits seemed to hurt us far more often than they helped us. I will, however, give him credit for that one fake punt. Or as I call it, the exception that proves the rule.
Darren Sproles: It's seems like every team has a crazy little Sprolesian scatback on their roster these days. There's Danny Woodhead. There's Dexter McCluster. The problem is, with the success of those other players, the Chargers coaching staff refuses to let go of Sproles. I'm tired of reminding everybody that he's only had 3 really good games in his career and all of them are more than a year removed. Don't ever hand him the ball. Send him on his way.
Malcolm Floyd: The man is a talent. And he's as frail as a spinster. This was your chance, Floyd. Han Solo had cleared your path by blasting Vincent Jackson into outer space and you went ahead and steered your X-Wing into the wall. Crap, that would make AJ Han Solo. I need a better analogy, but you all get the picture. Your number one receiver has to play in more than half the games.
Worthless rankings: Best offense? Best defense? Um, not if you don't win the games. Coincidentally, we are the only team to ever hold those rankings and not make the postseason. Now, that's a typical San Diego sports team dubious honor. You know, like that Padres team from several years ago that became the only team to ever have a 14 game winning streak and still finish under .500.
The NFC West: 2-2 against a division that will be lucky to have a winner with an 8-8 record? What more did we need to see to convince us that Norv's best team wasn't so good?
The Raiders: 0-2 against a team we have dominated for the better part of an entire decade? This was a team so inept over the last several years that I found myself consoling their horrible fans, only to have them return to being complete ass holes the second their team manage to notch 6 whole wins on the year. Ugh, the Raiders cannot fade back into obscurity quick enough as far as I'm concerned.
The sound the window makes when it slams shut: Those Raiders probably aren't going away. And neither are the Chiefs. With the division no longer in the bag, and the team's misguided devotion to Norv Turner, this town will never get it's Lombardi. Sorry everybody.