LaDainian Tomlinson remains ‘optimistic’ about this Chargers team

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 11: Quarterback Philip Rivers
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 11: Quarterback Philip Rivers /

 The Los Angeles Chargers suffered yet another heartbreak loss, but one former Charger still has high hopes for this squad. I met up with LaDainian Tomlinson and talked Chargers football.

New city, same old Chargers?

That’s been a popular saying ever since the Chargers lost to the Denver Broncos in heartbreak fashion on “Monday Night Football.”

It’s only one game, but the Chargers have picked up right where they left off, losing in the final minutes of games. Monday night’s game was a bit different, though, as Anthony Lynn’s Bolts began rallying back from 17 down in the fourth quarter only to lose on a blocked field goal with seconds left in the game. Incredible effort was shown, something we rarely saw with Mike McCoy’s Chargers.

Despite the loss, Chargers Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson believes in the 2017 Chargers.

“I’m optimistic,” Tomlinson said when asked about how the Chargers performed in their season opener. “When you think about it, you have a new coach, a new defensive coordinator, and it’s not easy for players to adjust to a new coach, a new system and kind of a new culture, if you will. The transition to moving to another market, getting used to the surrounding areas of where you’re living now, where you’re practicing now, to go through that and to fight like they did on Monday night.. I mean, I’m very optimistic.”

Unfortunately, there is one stat that stands out above the rest. According to ESPN, the Chargers are currently 1-9 in games decided by seven points or fewer since the start of last season.

Will that take a mental toll on these players? LT doesn’t think so.

“I don’t think it affects the players because the players’ mindset is always on the next challenge, the next game,” Tomlinson said. “You don’t think about what happened last game. You don’t think that’s going to happen again. That’s just the mindset.”

The youth movement is in full effect, too, which plays a factor on Sunday’s (and Monday’s). On offense, quarterback Philip Rivers, tight end Antonio Gates and left guard Matt Slauson are the only starters who are currently 30-plus years old. The only starter over 30 on defense is nose tackle Brandon Mebane.

“Keep in mind there are a lot of young players on the Chargers team right now, a lot of players who don’t have a lot of experience,” Tomlinson said. “So when you think about it, there’s a lot to build on from that game. Obviously there was a slow start, but I think what you saw is when they’re clicking on all units, this is a very dangerous team.”

Tomlinson knows this is a team that’s “in a little bit of a transition,” with a new coach running things and a new city to represent. But with Philip Rivers at quarterback and Melvin Gordon at running back, the team has balance on offense, which is one of the reasons why Tomlinson sees the Chargers doing big things.

“What I love about this team is they can play different styles of football,” Tomlinson said. “If they need to be in a hard-nosed game, running the football and just grinding it out, I believe they can play that way. If they need to get in a shootout, get wide receivers on the field and throw the football all over the place, they can play that style, too.”

With a team that has a decent amount of talent on the roster, it’s time for the Chargers to start racking up the wins.