Chargers Tomlinson needs help on offense
All throughout the offseason, Chargers players and fans alike salivated over the kind of problems the dynamic trio of Drew Brees, LaDainian Tomlinson, and David Boston could do to a defense. Upon signing with the Chargers in March, Boston delighted in the ability this offense would have to pressure opposing defenses.
When asked about playing with Drew and LaDainian, David stated, “Those are some very talented guys. LaDainian is a great running back and Drew Brees is an up-and-coming quarterback that has a lot of talent. Adding me to the equation will only put defenses in a tough predicament.”
It would seem after five games however that the predicament has been no more than a speed bump. Because while David was signed to provide the offense with a sense of balance, this team has remained one dimensional all season long.
Through the first four games, this was clearly LaDainian’s team. LaDainian was averaging more that one hundred yards a game; keeping pace on last year’s sixteen hundred yard season. However, last week, when the more dynamic form of Boston finally appeared, via his breakout one hundred and ninety four yard, two touchdown highlight reel, LaDainian’s stats were nowhere to be found.
The key to a balanced offense is not having a dominant running back and a dominant wide receiver. The key is getting both to play simultaneously at a level opponents must respect. The Chargers do not need one hundred and fifty plus yard performances like they got from Boston this week or like they got from LaDainian the week prior in Oakland. What they need is for them both to be right around one hundred and fifteen yards in the same game. Now that kind of balance is tough to defend.
The other form of balance lacking is a playmaking pass catcher opposite Boston. The team’s top choices in forms A and B in that category are both on the bench in the form of Stephen Alexander and Reche Caldwell. Hopefully, that will change shortly. This is especially important for Reche, as the team needs a good look at him to decide if he is the number two receiver of the future, or if that position will be another addition to the teams’ already long list of offseason needs.
The Chargers have displayed a completely dreadful from of football all season long thus far. Injuries have played a part, as I am sure Vaughn Parker, Stephen Alexander, Reche Caldwell, and Josh Norman could have made a big difference is some of these bitter defeats. But while these injuries do hurt, they are a part of life in the NFL.
I think if any Chargers fan were told before the season started that injuries would cause a slew of dismal performances to start the season, they would assume LaDainian had sprained an ankle or David had twisted a knee. The fact of the matter is the big dogs are still healthy, and they need to start taking control of the yard.
Marty has spoken most recently about the team’s attitude problem. As he said at a press conference on Monday, “The resolve that’s necessary to be able to look adversity in the eye and do whatever is necessary to overcome it, that’s what we need to find. I would like to see our football team play with an attitude.”
This attitude needs to come through starting in the Chargers next game at Cleveland. David must have the attitude that with LaDainian drawing eight defenders into the box, no secondary defender can stop him. LaDainian must have the attitude that with David keeping defenses honest, he can control the tempo of the game and wear any opponent down. And Drew must have the attitude that with two of the best weapons in the NFL at his disposal, that he can manage this team through any hostile environment and into the W column.
This team definitely needs an attitude. But it needs to start with the team leaders. With so much youth and defense, the play on that side of the ball has been almost comical, but that is not totally unexpected. The Chargers have two, and only two true superstars on their team, and they have a good quarterback who knows what to do with them. LT, Boston and Brees need to get on the same page, develop a sense of balance, and more importantly, a real attitude, and they need to do it quick. Time is ticking, and the season is slipping away. The change must come from within, and the time for change is now.
Michael Lombardo can be reached at ReneesGaydo@yahoo.com