The past week has been one of vitriol for the San Diego Chargers. After blowing a 24-point lead and allowing 35 unanswered points in the second half of the Monday Night Football game against the Denver Broncos — thus forcing them to share their lead in the division with the Broncos — fans were more outspoken than I’ve ever seen them during my time on the beat.
So much so, that it prompted Chargers Public Relations Director Bill Johnston to write, shall we say, an editorial. His basic premise is that Chargers fans (and media) need to “take a chill pill” and remember this was just ONE game. (Although, in all fairness, the Chargers suffered the same fate the week before in New Orleans, when they collapsed late in the game against the Saints.)
I know Bill quite well. He is a good man — a kind, intelligent, rational man. He does his job well, as he has for the last 34 years as a member of the Chargers staff. He sees the players, he knows the players, he watches the players work. I know he didn’t intend for the message to come across as a slap in the face to Chargers fans … At the same time, he probably wishes he hadn’t hit “send” on that post.
It’s been a wild ride.
I asked Chargers fans on Twitter how they would define success for this season. Is it reaching the playoffs? Going deep into the playoffs? Super Bowl or bust? Or something different? Here’s a sampling of the responses:
@annieheilbrunn AFC Championship game. But truthfully, if you/we ain’t shootin’ for a Super Bowl, perhaps it’s time to rebuild.
@annieheilbrunn success = firing norv and AJ and getting a legit coach and GM in to take their place.
@annieheilbrunn They have to win a National TV game against a quality opponent, while showing toughness and ability to overcome adversity.
@annieheilbrunn 8-8 with significant improvements by Rivers and Pagano’s defense heading into next year. Prepping for a new coach
@annieheilbrunn a high enough draft pick to get an impact o-lineman?
@annieheilbrunn Deep in playoffs AFC championship at least.
@annieheilbrunn superbowl or bust
@annieheilbrunn AFC championship game.
@annieheilbrunn 10 wins and a playoff spot. Or 10 losses and Norv being fired. Both work
@annieheilbrunn we gotta win the division. One game at a time.
@annieheilbrunn Success = winning the games we SHOULD win and winning some we shouldn’t…
I really didn’t get that many tweets screaming “Super Bowl!” … Seems fans have let go of that dream, at least temporarily.
I asked Jarret Johnson (who played with the Ravens for nine seasons and knows a thing or two about toughness and consistency) what makes him think this team has what it takes to turn it around. He said this:
“Because I see the way these guys come to work everyday. I get here at 6:30 in the morning and I’m the 12th guy to show up. It’s unbelievable. These guys on this team love football, and we have a lot of talent, and when you have that combination, you got a good team. We just hit some circumstances the last two games. We had a team down, and we let circumstance and momentum get the better of us and we didn’t finish.”
You know what I love about the NFL? Anything can happen. There’s no saying that the Chargers can’t come back and win the next 10. There’s no reason fans should be optimistic it will happen. Root for your team and let the players prove it to you.
Success on the field trumps EVERYTHING.
Side note: I saw Kris Dielman at an event this week … He looks great. Said he’s spending a lot of time with this family, though he would rather be “cracking skulls” on the field. 🙂 I asked him if he watched Monday’s game, and he laughed and said of course, and that he screamed so hard at the TV that his wife had to leave the room.
You can take the player out of the NFL …
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