According to Michael Gehlken of utsandiego.com, San Diego Chargers‘ running back Ryan Mathews said the Chargers became “complacent” last year under former coach Norv Turner. They entered games allowing themselves to believe victory was “owed” to them.
Chargers linebacker Donald Butler responded by saying: “I just wish he would have spoken for himself. Don’t make generalized statements like that about the whole team.”
San Diego center Nick Hardwick said: “I know what kind of work it’s going to take to even get through a game, let alone to win a game.”
The Lighting Bolts did not have a losing record in a season from 2004-2011, but were notorious for slow starts or hitting a wall. San Diego started the 2004 season with a 3-3 record, started 3-4 in 2005, 5-5 in 2007, 4-8 in 2008, 2-3 in 2009 and 2-5 in 2010. San Diego was 4-1 to start the 2011 season, but went on a six game losing streak. San Diego started the 2012 season with a 3-1 record, but lost seven of their next eight games and fell to 4-8.
Mathews struck a nerve with his teammates, but he is right because history proves that the Chargers are complacent at times. The NFL has 16 games in the regular season, so teams cannot afford to be complacent.
San Diego has not made the playoffs since 2009 when they were eliminated by the New York Jets. The Chargers finished their 2012 season with a 7-9 record, so the coaching staff and players have to make improvements to avoid missing the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.
Most athletes take pride in what they do for a living, so Butler and Hardwick have a right to disagree with Mathews. However, San Diego’s players have to avoid hitting a wall like they have done in the past.