An open letter to Marty Schottenheimer

An open letter to Marty Schottenheimer

Please allow me to preface my remarks by saying that I am sure you are a loving husband, caring father and doting grandfather. Every account I've heard of anyone who has spent time with you describes you as a warm and genuine person. But in your capacity as Head Coach of the San Diego Chargers, I cannot bear your lapses and gaffes any longer.

First off, let me make it clear that I understand that you do not physically contribute to the actions on the field and that you are not responsible for every-down playcalling. Nonetheless, I truly believe that you symbolize everything that is wrong with the Bolts right now. Your leadership (or lack thereof) is keeping this team middling around the .500 mark. I agree with your assessment that the Chargers are a better team than a year ago. However, the level of competition has been raised and the team's performance has not. Your presence is holding this team back and that I cannot forgive.

When you arrived in San Diego, I admitted publicly that your hiring would be deemed a success if the Bolts reached the postseason during your tenure. I also pointed to that assertion as evidence of the sorry state of The Organization since 1997. I didn't put much stock in your playoff record, since we were simply trying to make the playoffs. I didn't fault you for your postseason losses in Kansas City and Cleveland. The coach often receives both more praise and blame than he deserves. I understand that completely.

Everybody knew that you would receive Coach of the Year honors after the team's 12-4 season a year ago. But did anyone really believe deep down that you were the reason for the turnaround? If anything, it seemed that the team played better when you retreated into the role of figurehead and allowed the coordinators and players to play to their strengths. I know that many of the playcalls that Charger fans despise come from Cam Cameron. However, you won't let him talk to the public so I am forced to address some of these complaints to you. Also, we both know that you have final say on such matters.

Last Sunday, the Chargers, particularly on defense, finally played with balls. But in the process, they forgot to use their brains. I blame you primarily for this. Some people believe that "MartyBall" is a nickname for old-school, grind it out football. I disagree. No one uses that expression as a compliment. "MartyBall" is synonymous with foolish and shortsighted decisions that play right into the opposition's hands. For instance, calling four straight passes against Dallas was as much an example of "MartyBall" as running three times into the line against the Jets. In both cases, you essentially forced the Chargers to roll over and the opposition was more than happy to reap the rewards of your stupidity.

You can say that the fans and media don't know what happens inside the lines. I know that Dallas and Philadelphia blitzed us extensively. I assume that every team will try to emulate that strategy after seeing the results. Other teams call shovel passes or short throws when they want to gain positive yardage but do not run the risk of turning the ball over. By having LaDainian Tomlinson run right into the heart of a defense that was bottling him up all day, you neutralized him as much as you did when you inexplicably ignore him four times in the Dallas game.

This is not the opinion of some "lone nut" here. Allow me to introduce you to some more irate and dissatisfied Charger fans:

"You just can't explain it, bad things happen to this team because they give bad things a chance to happen. Marty didn't learn from last year's devastating playoff loss to the Jets and continued his conservative playcalling. After the Defense lays tough and stops the Eagles on 4 downs, he goes with 3 straight LT runs?? Can he just give one shot to the end zone to stick a dagger in the Eagles?? "
—John Dillon, NY

"3rd and 3 with 3:21 to play, I guess I understand the logic of the run call. It keeps the clock running. But a run straight up the middle where we had little success all day? Can't we be a little more creative? I know, it's easy to bitch from this vantage point, but does a field goal really gain you much in that situation? We were up by 4. Philly still had to get a TD to go ahead and with our D dominating, it did not seem probable. Why not pass for a first down? If you get it, the game is essentially over, as Philly was out of time outs. If they intercept, they still have to drive the length of the field in 3 minutes with only the 2-minute warning to stop the clock! I liked a lot of our play calling, but this was so weak!!!! FINISH THEM OFF WHEN YOU HAVE THEM BY THE THROAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
-Chris Crabtree, CA

There was a one in a million chance of Kaeding's kick being blocked and returned for a touchdown. Of course, those that have been with this team longer than you remember Bob Thomas having the same thing happen twice in a row against Denver. However, there is a zero percent chance of that happening if you finish the Eagles off. Their moron fans were pulling the fire alarms because they thought their team was dead. They should have been.

Tony Dungy was ousted from Tampa Bay because his team could not get to the next level. They specifically lacked the mentality to get past the same team you handed a win to on Sunday. Jon Gruden got that out of his team. Some might say that he inherited a talented squad from the Dungy era. But there was a reason that they couldn't get over the hump.

In the past, I would say that there was no chance of us getting rid of you. But A.J. Smith inherited you. This team has too much talent to be 3-4. But they've gotten exactly what they deserve over seven games. They have not shown the killer instinct or poise needed to put teams away. The window of opportunity won't be open forever. Instead of complimenting Philadelphia on Sunday, why not consider why these things keep happening to you? I don't care about your previous jobs. But these are the Chargers. We have enough bad karma without your stubborn stupidity. The Bolts have enough to overcome without you making it so much easier on the opposition.

The season is slipping away. Unless the Chargers win their next two games, they could be out of the race before their bye week. Here are some words of warning. I heard these lyrics sung by Cream, who cleaned my cosmic pipes on Tuesday at The Garden. I leave you with a passage penned by Eric Clapton and George Harrison.

"Yes, I told you that the light goes up and down.
Don't you notice how the wheel goes 'round?
And you better pick yourself up from the ground
Before they bring the curtain down.
Yes, before they bring the curtain down."

Yours In Justice,

Ross L. Warner

Long Island, NY

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