I thought I'd save everyone some time and pick out the key words and phrases we're all familiar with in the Norv lexicon:
"queasy", “We did take a step back,” "...they have no identity on offense and no consistency on defense," "...got routed by a team that was 2-5," "...we're struggling...", “We're playing inconsistent football,” “We need to get our act together.”
Tomlinson: 'We're not an elite team'
By Kevin Acee
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
November 6, 2007
Whatever the Chargers were building crumbled on the Metrodome floor.
“We find ourselves back in the same position we were a few weeks ago,” LaDainian Tomlinson said yesterday.
Winners of three straight – with ease – the Chargers are mired again in a bog of questions about potential vs. reality.
“We were on a little bit of a mini-roll, and we were getting better,” head coach Norv Turner said. “We did take a step back.”
K.C. ALFRED / Union-Tribune
Philip Rivers can expect to see more all-out blitzes on and off the field after his struggles against Minnesota.
It's actually worse than that.
Sure, the Chargers are 4-4 and tied for first place in what has suddenly become an awful AFC West.
But they have no identity on offense and no consistency on defense. They have yet to beat a team with even a .500 record and Sunday got routed by a team that was 2-5.
“We got our (rear ends) kicked,” said linebacker Shawne Merriman, more embarrassed yesterday than he was even on Sunday. “When I watched the film I was almost sick.”
There is more to make them queasy.
Now – without defensive end Luis Castillo, who had ankle surgery yesterday and will miss at least six weeks – they face a stretch of five games in which they play no team currently with a losing record.
“We've got to find a way to get back to playing successful football,” Tomlinson said. “We've got to start beating teams that are good. We've beat teams that we should beat.”
Who knows who the Chargers should beat these days?
“We're playing inconsistent football,” General Manager A.J. Smith said. “I don't know what to say about it. I don't have any answers. I thought we were flat Sunday. We're up and down. We're playing in spurts. It's not good enough, and in two of the games we didn't even show up.”
He was, of course, speaking of Sunday's 35-17 loss to the Vikings, in which Adrian Peterson ran for an NFL-record 296 yards, and the 38-14 loss Sept. 16 at New England, in which the Patriots appeared to have invented football while the Chargers appeared to have just heard of it.
In their four victories, the Chargers have allowed their opponents no more than two scores. In their four losses, their opponents have each scored at least 30 points.
It is a maddening roller coaster even more turbulent than the 2005 season that saw a highly touted Chargers team start slow, gain momentum and then falter to 9-7.
“I don't have a problem with the players we have, and I don't have a problem with the coaching staff,” Smith said. “But we're not winning football games.”
Changes were made this offseason with the design they would help the Chargers actually win once they got to the playoffs.
“But if you don't get there,” Smith acknowledged, “you don't get that opportunity.”
So far nothing suggests they would do anything positive if they did.
There does, however, remain half a season to play.
“It's too early to put a stamp on what this season is,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “I know the expectations in our locker room, the expectations of everyone else. ... Those expectations don't exist now. Realistically, we're 4-4 and we're going to scrap and claw to get in the playoffs, and then we'll see what happens.”
First, the second half of the season begins Sunday night with the Indianapolis Colts (7-1) coming to Qualcomm Stadium.
Merriman sounded a bit like former NFL coach Jim Mora yesterday. Playoffs? Don't talk to Merriman about playoffs. He's just hoping the Chargers can win a game.
“To be honest, I don't care too much about the playoffs,” Merriman said. “I don't care about the Super Bowl. We've got to get a win against Indy.”
And then go to Jacksonville (5-3) and then come home to play Baltimore (4-4) and then go to Tennessee (6-2) and Kansas City (4-4) in back-to-back weeks and then host Detroit (6-2).
The Chargers' words yesterday – in both public proclamations and private conversations – conveyed that they are not worried but are acutely aware of where they are.
“We're not an elite team,” Tomlinson said. “We're not an elite team at all. We're a team that's middle of the pack, and we're struggling to win games.”
Something must change, or this team supposedly in the midst of its window of opportunity will be nothing more than a gigantic bust.
“It will happen,” Merriman said. “But better sooner than later before it's too late.”
Even in the AFC West – where they are tied with Kansas City, both a game up on Denver – they still need to win to defend their division title.
“We need to get our act together,” Smith said. “Otherwise someone could pop out the next eight games and take it from us.”