Much of the focus on the San Diego Chargers and their recent struggles has centered on Head Coach Norv Turner’s ineptitude. While that is certainly a legit concern, he isn’t the only one on the hook for the team’s inability to make the postseason for what looks like the third consecutive season in 2012. General Manager A.J. Smith is just as culpable if not more so for the franchise’s issues and the reason why is simple; just look around the NFL.
If you just take a second and look at players excelling for other teams around the league, it won’t take long to stop on the name of a former Bolt. Many players originally drafted by GM Smith have been allowed to pursue their options elsewhere for more money. San Diego has instead opted to sign cheaper, less effective players at those positions and the results have shown on the field.
Perhaps the best example is at the cornerback position where the Bolts have had Quentin Jammer in place for a decade now. He is long overdue for the inevitable move to safety, but the team can’t afford to do that with their lack of depth at corner. Antoine Cason is a barely serviceable option on the edge while the team has left Pro Bowl players like Antonio Cromartie go via trade or Drayton Florence leave in free agency. If the team still had those two starting on the edge, Jammer would be at safety and this secondary would be a force.
The same goes for the skill positions on offense where GM Smith attempted to replace Darren Sproles, Mike Tolbert, and LaDainian Tomlinson with Ryan Mathews. No back is going to have success when asked to carry the weight of three on his legs.
Wide receiver is the same story with a different philosophy where Vincent Jackson’s departure was countered by signing a bunch of guys who don’t mesh well together for the combined sum of what re-signing Jackson would have cost. Robert Meachem has been a complete failure, Eddie Royal is a mere Sproles wannabe, and perhaps the cheapest option, Danario Alexander, has been the most fitting attempt at finding a replacement so to speak.
Regardless of where the Chargers choose to go from here with a record of 4-8, the team is in desperate need of a new philosophy. Sometimes spending a little more to keep the talent you originally drafted thinking they were elite is better than spending a little less for the talent you passed over in the first place because you didn’t believe they were as good. It seems clear now that the only way to make that change is to do it in a wholesale manner and the Bolts will undoubtedly be looking to clean house after these forgettable last three seasons.
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