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Thursday, February 08, 2007

A.J. - One area great, one area poor

I have not been a fan of A.J. Smith since John Butler passed away and he took over. There are many reasons which I am sure some would agree with and many would disagree with. The way he is so cut and dry in contract negotiations, how he lets his personal dislike for players and coaches dictate how they get treated or if they even remain employed, and how he uses the absolute power and authority he has been given by Dean Spanos. All of that being said, I MUST give him credit where credit is due.

He has done a great job of drafting good players. He has done a good, although limited, job of acquiring good free agents. He has done a great job of signing our best players to long term contracts.

I will not rehash the old arguments but I still think he did a TERRIBLE job in dumping Drew Brees who I still believe will lead his team to the Super Bowl before the Chargers reach the Super Bowl; we'll see. . . .!?!?

So there, I gave him credit as the genius General Manager -- on his handling of ONE side of his job, the players, but what about the other side of his job, the coaches?

In my opinion he has done a HORRIBLE job of dealing with the coaching staff.

The coaching staff is what makes all those good players mesh into a well oiled machine with the same plan of action, the same focus, the same level of motivation, and the same buy in to what is being asked of them. The coaches create a "family" where you know what Dad's expectations of you are and you know how your brothers are going to back you. The coaches are the ones who take players from various playing backgrounds and experiences, and mold them in to a single way of doing things to win. The coaches create continuity in the chaotic world of NFL football and are able to get the most out of their players by being a mentor they can look up to and that they can and do trust. The players jobs depend a lot on the coaches!!!

A.J. Smith does not like Marty and wants him out and that is a known fact. He is however, for the moment, stuck with Marty because Dean Spanos wants desperately to win a Super Bowl NOW to help him get a new Stadium and doesn't want any more disruption to the team.

Unfortunately, this very situation caused by A.J. IS CAUSING DISRUPTION TO THE TEAM.

A.J. has focused on the players and ignored the coaching staff. He has a backup plan for every players position, he has depth at every players position, he has extended contracts of his players to ensure continuity, and he has a plan for free agent acquisitions and who he wants in the Draft.

As evidenced by what has and is occurring with the coaching staff, he does NOT have a plan or even a clue.

He was forced to retain Marty for this next year and then only offered him a one year extension knowing full well if Marty did not take the team to the Super Bowl in '07 he would fire him anyway.

So Marty is back for one last year -- a lame duck head coach. Now that's good for a team.

A lame duck head coach is not who you want to work for as an assistant coach because that means you only have one more year of putting food on the table for your family. So you start looking to bail out now. Why now? Because you helped guide this team to a 14-2 record and the other NFL General Managers know you have the potential to bring the same level of success to their team and they are willing to pay for that now.

So what we have is the loss of our Offensive Coordinator, our Defensive Coordinator, our Linebackers coach, our Running Backs coach has to be replaced because the current coach was promoted to fill the Offensive Coordinator position, the Assistant Strength and Conditioning coach left too, and I am betting more coaches will leave before this is all over.

So the very architects of your 14-2 team are gone or leaving and your Head Coach only has one more year before he returns to the Broadcast booth and where is A.J.? I think he is fiddling while Rome burns.

I think he abandoned Marty and the entire Chargers coaching staff because he doesn't like Marty and wants to see him fail. In A.J.'s world, it doesn't matter who else has to be disregarded to prove his point, there is only room for one genius. He wants FULL credit for any Chargers success and Marty has given him enough ammunition to allow him to hire his own coach of choice and then when/if the team wins the Super Bowl it will be totally because of A.J. and his genius.

I believe if the Chargers are somehow able to survive this coaching staff debacle and go deep in to the playoffs in '07 it will be because of Marty and in spite of A.J.

Regardless, A.J. gets his way. Marty's contract will have expired and A.J. will threaten Spanos with his own departure if Marty is offered a long term contract so Marty is gone. A.J. will hire HIS new coach (believe me, it WON'T be Bill Cower because A.J. won't pay what he is worth), and thus the Chargers players will start all over under a new coaching staff. Can you say "set back"?

How did we get to this point? Remember that Dean Spanos took over the team operations from his Dad (the real owner) Alex Spanos. This was done because Dad Alex was too involved in the team's day to day operations and there were many years of losing seasons to show how well that had worked out.

So Dean took over the team and hired Bobby Beathard as his General Manager. Remember him? He was THE genius General Manager. Dean gave him full power and authority to run the team. We went to the Super Bowl and then Beathard blew up the team and fired the Head Coach. Can you say "set back"?

Guess what? Dean did not learn his lesson. He has hired another "genius" and given him full power and authority to run the team. Hello Dean, does this not look familiar? You're team is ready to go to the Super Bowl and your GM is OK with blowing up your coaching staff?

I'm still hurting from the playoff loss to the Patriots and I am getting sicker by the day watching the coaching staff walk away and I am even sicker for having to say "wait 'til next year" AGAIN, and knowing full well that next year could be a "set back". Ah the painful life of a Chargers fan.

GO CHARGERS -- love ya' Bolts.

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