Another December in San Diego, another late season winning streak for the Chargers. I have to admit, I’m a little nervous though. It seems a little too easy at this point. After this week’s game against the Raiders, they play KC, SF, Cincy and Denver. The only team that’s even competitive out of that bunch this year is the Chiefs. Of course, that’s the problem. Whenever we think something is easy for these guys they manage to make it difficult. It wouldn’t be out of character for them to blow this weekend’s game and have to sweat it out the rest of the way and hope the Chiefs lose, would it? I don’t know, maybe I’m just being a pessimist.
On to the bantering…
Is VJ Faking it?
Phil: I wrote and tweeted the past couple of weeks that if any player were dumb enough to fake an injury to protest the fact that he’s unhappy with his salary it would be Vincent Jackson. Remember, this is a guy who blindly followed his agent’s advice and held out even though he had absolutely zero leverage. Let’s go through the facts:
A. Jackson left the Colts after two plays due to a strained right calf. When he exited, it was initially reported by NBC that he would return and moments later they changed their story and said that he would not.
B. The next day, Kevin Acee of the Union-Tribune reported that Jackson tweaked his left calf in practice on Friday.
C. Acee also reported that Jackson’s injury raised some eyebrows within the organization.
D. Vincent Jackson was not on the Chargers’ injury report prior to the game against the Colts.
First question: If Jackson hurt his calf in Friday’s practice and it was known that Jackson hurt his calf then why did it “raise eyebrows within the organization” when he left the Colts game.
Second question: Why wasn’t Jackson on the injury report prior to the game?
Is it really beyond the realm of reason to believe that Jackson (who clearly isn’t capable of thinking for himself) at the urging of his agents would fake an injury to stick it to the Chargers? Jackson is playing this year for $280,000 rather than the original $3.3 million he would have gotten had he signed his original tender. In addition to the $3 million Jackson lost out on, the Chargers embarrassed his agents, hurt their reputation and probably cost them some clients when the Chargers wouldn’t trade Jackson. The Colts game was a must-win, the Chargers were short on receivers and everyone thought going in that it would be a close game. Maybe getting Jackson to walk off the field after two plays was a little payback to AJ Smith and the Chargers for the grief they put Jackson and his agents through.
And to take this conspiracy theory a little further, wouldn’t it behoove the Chargers to kill the story, sit Vincent Jackson out a couple of weeks, play along, fake the MRI and just say he had a calf strain rather than distract the team during this stretch where they have two key games coming up against the Raiders and Chiefs?
All I have to say is, until I see Vincent Jackson’s MRI, the guy is faking it worse than a dime-store whore.
Ernie: Seriously… 2 PLAYS!!! That is all he ran out onto the field for! At least have the decency to play a couple of series before “suffering a calf injury!”
Get out on the field and MAN UP!! OR just go sulk at home and stop bothering the guys that are really playing ALL OUT football! We got Antonio Gates playing on the field like Kunta Kinte… dude has no feet!!! and you are whining on the sideline with a calf injury!
Yea he is faking it… and I won’t believe otherwise until he goes on the field and does something.
Do AJ Haters owe the man an apology?
Phil: If the second guesser were right about AJ Smith this season from the start of training camp, the Chargers would have no passing game without Vincent Jackson, Phil Rivers would be hurt from all the blindside hits he would take without Marcus McNeil at left tackle and Shawne Merriman would’ve signed with the Ravens, Jets or Patriots gotten healthy and helped them win the Super Bowl.
Admit it, AJ Smith has made all the right moves this year. Not only did he push the right buttons in the Jackson, McNeil and Merriman situations, he traded for Patrick Crayton, found Antwan Barnes and fixed the special teams by bringing in veterans Kelly Washington, Pat Watkins and Tyrone Carter.
Even the biggest AJ Haters will have to admit, with all their injuries this year the guy has done a great job plugging up all the holes.
(This is where the AJ Haters scream, “Yeah, but what about Buster Davis?” You guys are too cute.)
Ernie: I think that all the AJ haters will just find a different reason to hate. The only way that they will stop the hate is when he brings the Championship into our town.
AJ has done an excellent job turning other people’s trash into our treasure. He has brought in Patrick Crayton earlier in the season, who has shown to be a HUGE pickup! He filled during the plague of injuries to our receivers and made some big plays for us in the passing game. Antwan Barnes was brought in as a pass rusher and for help in the special teams. Barnes has consistently put pressure on the opposing QBs and has been a game changer. The special teams was an absolute mess to start off the season and we have mixed and matched players to clean that up.
As much as AJ gets hated on, people need to respect the work that he has done this season to help the team turnaround.
What teams should the Chargers fear the most if they make the playoffs?
Phil: Assuming the Chargers win the West, the Colts win the South and the Ravens/Steelers, Jets/Patriots will be division winners / wild card teams in some order I would rank the Chargers potential playoff opponents in this order:
5. Colts- Ideally the Colts play the Jets at home in the Wild Card Round and take them out, then go to Baltimore and take out the Ravens in the Divisional Round so the Chargers can host the AFC Championship Game against the Colts. We can only dream.
4. Jets- I am hoping the Chargers play the Jets in the playoffs just so we can see LaDanian Tomlinson take subtle potshots at the Chargers leading up to the game and then going out there and choking in the playoffs like he always does. Picturing him standing on the sidelines and pouting while the Chargers are pouring it on the Jets just makes me downright giddy. I bet you he cries during the press conference too.
3. Patriots- The Chargers should’ve beaten them by two scores earlier this season. I’m more afraid of Tom Brady growing his hair out even longer and putting it in pigtails than I am about the Patriots. That’s the next step for Brady right? He’s already taken cool to the level where he can do effeminate things like things like grow out his hair and no one says a thing about his masculinity. Why not take it all the way?
2. Steelers- I would hate to see the Chargers have to go to Pittsburg and play the Steelers in January. They always seem to struggle there. On the bright side, the Steelers offensive line is breaking down, the Rape Burger is hurt and their defense hasn’t been as strong since Aaron Smith went down. Still, I think the Chargers can handle Pit at Qualcomn but if they have to go to Pittsburg, it will be tough.
1. Ravens- They’re the most well rounded team in the AFC right now. They can throw it around in a shootout with Flacco, Anquan Boldin, Derek Mason and Houshmandzadeh or they can play defense and grind it out with Ray Rice. The Ravens are solid and they’re the team I would fear the most.
Ernie: First off, let’s just say that the Chargers can beat any of these teams that we will meet in the AFC! At the same time, we fall apart when we get to the playoffs!
Any day, I would love to face the Indianapolis Colts! We just have an edge against them that is unexplainable.
Then comes the teams that we hold a little of history against. All these teams have broken are hearts in the playoffs: The New England Patriots, New York Jets, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I would fear any of them, just because we have proven to fall apart against each team. AND if we have to go to any of their stadiums, we will have to deal with the cold and the weather.
Of those teams, I would most want to play against the Jets! The one team I want to beat the most this season has been the Jets. I am ready to shut our old running back LT up and send him out of here with another playoff loss. LT probably would get injured in this game and just kick it on the sideline like Vincent Jackson! 2 plays into the game, CALF INJURY!
Who’s the #1 RB when Ryan Matthews comes back healthy?
Phil: Mike Tolbert has been the man so far this season but if Ryan Matthews ever gets healthy he should get the most carries, although not much more. Tolbert definitely needs to get his. Both guys are averaging 4.4 yards per carry but I think Matthews is the more explosive back and once he understands the offense he’s capable of busting longer runs than Tolbert. If the Chargers run the ball 30 times a game I’d like to see Matthews get 17 carries while Tolbert gets 13.
Ernie: We should stick with what is HOT! Mike Tolbert is coming off of a couple of 100 yard performances and has shown that he can carry the load. We should mix in Mathews in there when we can to give him work, but Tolbert should hold the number 1 spot when Mathews does come back healthy.
If Mathews wants to take back that spot on the depth chart, then he will have to earn it back with his play. I think that Mathews can be the more complete back, but he has to prove it on the field and show that potential we all are waiting for.
How devastated would you be if the Chargers moved to LA?
Phil: It would suck but I wouldn’t be completely devastated. I don’t go to that many Charger games anymore. I would much rather stay home and watch the game in HD and be able to watch all the other games that Sunday. I like being able to grill during halftime and being able to make myself a drink when I’m thirsty. Going to an NFL game is kind of overrated these days. They limit the time you can tailgate, they water down the beers inside and unless you sit in the lower bowl you’re better off watching the game at home. Plus you miss all the other games that day.
If the Chargers moved to LA the only thing I’d hope for is that they call themselves the “So Cal Chargers” instead of the “LA Chargers.” Of course this probably won’t happen since it would defeat the whole purpose of moving a team to LA from a marketing standpoint. Even if they called themselves the “LA Chargers” I would still cheer for them. I mean, I have no problem with cheering for the Lakers. The only LA team I hate is the Dodgers. If the Padres left San Diego I would cheer for the Angels. OK, I’m rambling. Time to call it a week.
Ernie: Any time that I think of this situation I want to throw up! It makes me feel like I broke up with a girlfriend or something like that. I have thought about it hard, BUT I guess I still would be a fan of the Chargers ( I don’t want to say that too loud because I think that is what some of those LA people are banking on).
STILL, I would rather scream “BEAT LA” on Sundays and not deal with the terrible traffic to get up in that area. I don’t cheer for the Lakers OR the Dodgers! There will be a team in LA, I just hope that it is Minnesota and Jacksonville instead of OUR Bolts.