What a jacked-up season: disappointing and satisfying; a failure and a success.
It all started with that last-second loss to the Carolina Panthers in the opening game of the season, which was made worse by marking the final appearance of Shawne Merriman on the gridiron in 2008.
It continued in the second game of the season with that bungled Ed Hochuli (the ref with the massive arms) call that cost the Chargers a clear victory against the rival Denver Broncos.
Then, in game 5, the Miami Dolphins confused the Hell out of the Chargers defense with that overrated "wildcat" formation, which was followed in game 7 by a semi-whooping by the Buffalo Bills (a team that did not deserve to win).
Game 8 brought a long-distance trip to London, where the Chargers lost to their old quarterback, Drew Brees. It's never okay to lose, but if it were ever okay, it'd be okay for the Chargers to lose to Brees (what can I say, I'm a fan).
Game 10: The first 11-10 scoring game in NFL history, which was a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Game 11: Last-minute loss to the Colts.
Game 12: Loss to the Atlanta Falcons, led by LaDanian Tomlinson's old backup, Michael Turner.
4-8 after 12 games. The Chargers were done. Out. Finished.
Well, maybe not.
After a typical ass-whooping of the Oakland Raiders, the Chargers beat the Kansas City Chiefs after being down by 11 points with less than a minute-and-a-half to play. Two more ass-whoopings, brought the team to 8-8. This, combined with Denver's history collapse, and the 8-8 Chargers went to the playoffs, where they beat the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card, but lost to the Steelers in the divisional round.
A season marred by Merriman's absence, performance-limiting injuries to LaDanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates, a big question mark surrounding Philip Rivers' bad knee, and the firing of inept defensive coordinator, Ted Cottrell.
A season marked by the stupefyingly outstanding emergence of Darren Sproles, a return to form for Jamal Williams, the maturation of a wide receiver corps that is feared down to its fourth receiver (just for the record: Chris Chambers, Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, and Legedu Naanee), and the promotion of Ron Rivera to defensive coordinator
Can't say I'm happy with the season, but I sure am proud of it (well, as proud as one can be to something one is only peripherally related to).
Even considering trading LaDanian Tomlinson is stupid, at best; foolish, at worse, and downright disrespectful to both Tomlinson and Chargers fans. I'd almost go as far to say that such an idea is worse than letting Leslie O'Neal and Junior Seau go, and if Philip Rivers hadn't developed so well, the decision to let Drew Brees go would be up here, too.
Speaking of Tomlinson, I propose we start referring to him as LDT, instead of LT, out of respect for Lawrence Taylor. Anyone with me?
Norv Turner is NOT the coach for this team. Yeah, he's made it into the playoffs both years, but that's more from Marty leftovers than anything Turner has done. Congratulate him, shake his hand, but send him on his way.
A.J. Smith's true colors will start showing this offseason or next offseason, and he will be revealed to be an egotist with no sense of deference to the fans of the Chargers, or respect for his players. Mark my words.
Now that Seau looks to be done for good, what say the Chargers give him a one-year contract and let him "finish" his career back in the uniform he belongs in? Or, better yet, hire him as a linebackers coach, now that the Chargers are short one given Rivera's promotion.
Merriman's last season as a Charger is reputed to be the upcoming 2009 season. Don't let that happen, A.J. Smith. Prove me wrong about you, just once.
Don't let Rivera leave for the Lions! I know he might want to, particularly since the Lions play the Bears twice a year, but don't let him go! OVERPAY HIM!
* This is the first part of what will hopefully be a nine-part entry in the River of Mnemosyne challenge that's happening over at The ...
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