The recent Chargers playoff era began in 2004 after an abysmal 2003 season that awarded them with the #1 overall draft selection. It is truly quite amazing when you think about how AJ Smith has built one of the best teams in the NFL, but continually screws it over whenever his ego gets the chance.
AJ Smith said of his philosophy, “I try very hard to be consistent,” Smith said, “because if you’re not consistent, they don’t understand where you’re coming from. I can’t change their opinions, but this is the way I am.” And he couldn’t be more right! AJ Smith played hardball with his own QB in 2004 which led to Brees starting and leading the Chargers to the first playoff appearance in 10 years. In a way, AJ Smith created the “Drew Brees Controversy” which will never ever die in San Diego because this town loved Drew Brees and then went on to an organization that made winning the championship its priority. Drew Brees carried the Saints to a Super Bowl last year by being one of the best field generals in the NFL.
Fast forward to 2005 after a 2nd year Tight End had a breakout season and desired a contract to match. San Diego’s golden boy, Antonio Gates was suspended from the first game of the season by Chargers’ general manager, AJ Smith. “On August 23, 2005, after holding out for a contract extension, Gates inked a six-year deal worth up to $24 million with the San Diego Chargers. Because of his holdout, Gates was suspended for one game–the home opener against the Dallas Cowboys, a loss. Gates went on to have another stellar season, catching 89 passes for 1,101 yards and 10 touchdowns, but the Chargers missed the playoffs by a single win.”
In 2009, the AJ Smith mocked Ladainian Tomlinson during off-season negotiations to restructure the future hall-of-famer’s contract. Many felt LT was getting old, but LT swore that the Chargers’ philosophy of football had changed. AJ Smith apologized eventually with egg on his face and later signed LT to a restructured deal. The Chargers let LT go following the season and he signed with the JETS who are committed to the run and have a full back who can block and a great offensive line. LT is a Top 5 running back through week 8.
Here we are in 2010, one season removed from a 13-3 season where the head coach said this of his team, “I don’t think right now we’re as good as you that cover us think or expect us to be; I don’t think we’re as good as what our fans want us to be”. This year before the season started Norv Turner said, “We have a chance – and you have to go do it – to have this be the best team that I’ve been with since I’ve been here”. He said this of his team knowing that two of his key pro-bowl components, Marcus McNeill(LT) and Vincent Jackson(#1WR) were not signed and would most likely not play with the Chargers this year. It is week 8 of the 2010 NFL season and the team sits at 2-5 when it should be 7-0 or 6-1 based on Vegas lines and experts picks across the boards on a weekly basis.
Do you recognize a pattern yet? AJ Smith has acquired many of the pieces… more than enough, yet he lets his ego get in the way. I understand AJ’s philosophy and while it might be well served in the Mafia, it seems antiquated and counterproductive in San Diego. Here is an ESPN article on all of AJ’s players succeeding in the NFL… on other teams. Call me crazy, but when I manage things they get done. I don’t care if I have to multitask for 12 hours, the job is going to get done on time. AJ Smith gives off a aura of, “I know more than you when it comes to football”, much like Sandy Alderson had with baseball. Assholes or not, business is business. If your job is to get deals done, then get hem done. Fucking Negotiate! That is your job! If the deal doesn’t work, figure it out. Put more incentives in or whatever. It’s not rocket science, its not war, its a business deal that requires dialogue and communication. Some things we heard AJ is not fond of. In all seriousness though… Why didn’t he get these deals done? It is utter stupidity and has obviously permeated the locker room considering the national media is referring to our team as the Stupor Chargers.
AJ Smith fired Marty Shottenheimer after a 14-2 season and a Divisonal Playoff loss at home. The Chargers’ goal was to hire a new coach to get us over the playoff hump and in to the Super Bowl. AJ’s new head coach selection Norv Turner won 2 playoff games his first year. He only won one his second year. He won none last year. Thrice times in a row we have been bounced from the playoffs for blunder head maneuvers. This year we are 2-5 and the playoffs could skip San Diego entirely this year.
Is this the way we were supposed to go after firing a hall of fame head coach who had resurrected this franchise from the dead? We were sold a bill of goods from this GM and franchise and the end result is trending in the wrong direction.