It's just going to be one of those days. Here's Acee's assessment of AJ Smith, past present and future. Needless to say, Acee takes Vader to the woodshed with this one with no consideration for his own well being or his place on the UT's writing staff. Just kidding. he states the obvious, builds in some excuses and lobs fluffy bunny grenades at AJ. Some quick retorts:
But also, that clock has struck midnight. The Chargers' run of playoff appearances has been interrupted. In the fairytale, all ends well for Cinderella. In 2011, we might find out whether Smith and the Chargers live happily ever after.
A Cinderella comparison? Well, at least that's new. I mean, Cinderella never had anyone killed or blasted a dude through a shower door, but hey...Cinderella. Who can be mad at Cinderella? Am I right or what?
But 9-7? Two years after 8-8?
A convergence of events – not the least of which is the fact it has already started – make this the most important offseason for the Chargers in Smith’s eight-year reign as general manager.
Tick-tock? Like the alligator that was after Captain Hook in Peter Pan? Now there's an analogy I can get behind. 2011 is the gator and AJ is Hook. That kind of rules. I'm gonna try and make this Hook thing stick. And not the gay Dustin Hoffman Hook either, though I have to give that Hook credit for running that annoying Rufio character through with a sword.
Smith was the architect of a monumental turnaround, from a team that went 39-73 and didn’t have a winning season in the seven years prior to him taking over and has gone 80-48 under his watch and not had a losing season since his first year in charge. He built almost from scratch the team that went to the AFC Championship after the 2007 season and retooled the version that went 13-3 in ‘09.
Wait a minute, I thought we were putting it to the captain here. I'm not going to refer to him as The Architect.
Only New England (87), Indianapolis (87) and Pittsburgh (77) have more victories than the Chargers (76) since 2004.
Of course, those three teams also have Super Bowl victories in that span (Pittsburgh has two). And Smith is also the architect of a team that as of this past Monday has gone two calendar years without a playoff victory.
That's what I'm talking about! Take that, Cinderella!
Head coach Norv Turner and deposed special teams coordinator Steve Crosby (and every other coach) could have done a better job this past season.
See, but now this sounds like an excuse for AJ. And more than that it's another weak indictment of Steve Crosby who seemed to make do until Hook started withholding talented players from him, then ultimately made him walk the plank for making him and his Shmee look bad. What happens if whoever we get to replace Crosby has some breakdowns on special teams? Impossible for some reason!
But those that argue the Chargers have regressed under Turner seem to forget that the Chargers of 2006 and ’07 were led by LaDainian Tomlinson, Shawne Merriman and Jamal Williams, all mostly healthy and in their primes, plus Antonio Gates and Philip Rivers.
There are a couple great players (Gates, Rivers) on this version of the Chargers and a handful (maybe two handfuls) of very good players. And then, well, Smith has let his boss, his subordinates and his team’s fans down.
Most-talented roster? That’s a stale assessment.
This is a solid attack here. Unfortunately, it's also a defense of Norv so I can't get totally behind it. Because, you see, any defense of Norv Turner is a de facto argument in favor of Hook. See the trickeration there.
Now, Acee goes into build-up mode.
Smith is absolutely capable of proving this a simple and wholly correctable downturn. (Remember, the Chargers followed 9-7 in 2005 with 14-2 in ’06 and 8-8 in 2008 with 13-3 in ‘09.)
Anyone who thinks this team was that far from the playoffs and isn’t going back unless drastic changes are made lacks perspective.
Before throwing in a soft jab by stating some of the obvious without a hint of venom (Acee reserves his venom for the idiot fans).
But teams also miss the playoffs when their general manager has perhaps missed as much as he’s hit in recent drafts and when his impact free agent signings are as rare as his smiles.
Ouch. Gets ya right in the pantaloons, eh Captain?
The Chargers did not sign an unrestricted free agent last spring, signed one the year before and none after the ’07 season. In his tenure, Smith has arguably gotten significant impact out of just safety Marlon McCree (2006) and linebacker Kevin Burnett (2009) among his unrestricted free agents signings. (To Smith’s credit, a number of his trades have provided strong returns, the Chargers have a number of undrafted free agents making significant contributions, and Smith has signed some key “street” free agents to shore up depth.)
Well, of course the few free agents he has signed have been big time home runs. These must be the "very good players" Acee alluded to earlier. And those trades? Tre magnifique! Of course, most of those amazing trade acquisitions have been run out by Hook himself or have drastically declined in production the last couple of years, but that's hardly woth noting.
Finally, since Smith is as staunch a believer as there is in building through the draft, and since he will have five picks in the first three rounds, he needs to find
some difference makers come April.
Five picks in the first three rounds?! Why, that's nearly two Jacob Hester's worth of picks! Methinks I can hear the window flying back open!
But 2007 first-rounder Buster Davis, who showed flashes of talent but was unable to show any more due to recurring injuries, is almost certainly finished as a Charger.
Yeah, it was injuries that made Buster Davis suck. And it's good to know that he's only almost certainly no longer going to be a Charger. Look out, Acee, Hook might make you almost eat those words!
Regardless of circumstances, the bottom line is that only cornerback Antoine Cason (2008) has made a significant contribution among Smith’s past four first-round picks.
Cason has definitely been a significantly serviceable contributor. Right up until he let his man get fifteen yards past him in the loss that sealed our fate this season. And no, I'm not blaming Cason for the whole season, that's really more CJ's thing, but it bears noting that Cason ain't quite there in terms of putting one in the win column for Hook yet.
Smith isn’t speaking for public consumption these days, but rest assured he knows all of this. Be confident, too, he doesn’t necessarily agree with everything that’s been written here, but neither does he deny it all.
The offseason is on Smith. It needs to be his time.
Scathing. When Captain Hook scuttles you for your insolence, you can come write for this blog, Acee. It doesn't pay a dime, but we'll let you keep your balls anyway.