Depleted is a perfect word that sums up both the Chargers and their fans.
Boy, that escalated quickly.
The Los Angeles Chargers are officially the laughing stock of the NFL. They remain winless, playing in a 27,000-seat soccer complex, with no fan base, in a city that doesn’t want them.
We are four weeks into the 2017 season. Ratings are absurdly low. The stadium has been overtaken by opposing teams’ fans. Play-by-play commentators are making it known that it’s a bad look. Banners (hilarious ones at that) are flying over “home games” calling out Chargers owner Dean Spanos.
“E-A-G-L-E-S” chants were loud on Sunday, a week after the StubHub Center turned into the Red Sea. The Boos were even louder every time the Chargers did something good or got a penalty going their way (huh?). Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks was revving up the crowd late in the fourth quarter. A Philadelphia Eagle did that.
As a fan, it’s embarrassing.
It’s embarrassing seeing the team I’ve practically worshiped gone to s**t. Losing stinks, especially how the Chargers continuously find ways to shoot themselves in the foot and lose close games (4-12 in one-possession games since start of 2016, per NFL.com), but it’s not just about that anymore. It’s about the identity of this team and its fans, or lack thereof. The move created a split. Former Chargers fans, specifically those from San Diego, are laughing their asses off. Can you blame them? Absolutely not. It’s just a weird feeling knowing there’s very few fans out there and so much negativity.
For a player, it has to be stressful and frustrating. Chargers players seem overwhelmed by it all. It’s a sad sight to see.
Don’t get me wrong, the Chargers didn’t have a ton of fans showing up to games the past few seasons when the team played in San Diego. I don’t need to bring up numbers, you could just tell the same way you can tell now. Spanos’ urgency to leave “America’s Finest City” likely played a big role.
But at least there was some sort of fan base, a larger group of people you could cheer and get angry with without completely questioning your fandom.
And being up close and personal, Spanos’ main sell in his current home, is affecting the supposed home team because of the amount of away fans basically yelling right in the players’ faces. Unless something is done, this will continue to happen until 2020, when the Chargers move in with the Los Angeles Rams in Inglewood, Calif.
Quarterback Philip Rivers isn’t dumb. He acknowledged that this is an unusual circumstance, per the San Diego-Union Tribune.
“I appreciate the Chargers fans that were here. And I don’t want to insult the ones that aren’t. Who am I to say how they should spend an afternoon? It’s just not a home game.” – Rivers after Sunday’s loss to the Eagles
Rivers went full Dennis Reynolds, unleashing his fury upon offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. The veteran quarterback lost it after the Chargers couldn’t get a play off on a fourth down close to midfield midway through the third quarter. It was obvious miscommunication between Rivers and Whisenhunt, but give the former a break. He’s giving it his all, trying to get this team back on track despite knowing that everything is spiraling downward quicker than anyone could have imagined. I would have lost my temper too if the cards were stacked against me.
It doesn’t help that expectations were high going into the season. Many NFL experts had the Chargers making the playoffs. Before the season started, I questioned whether the Chargers were overrated or underrated because of their back-to-back losing seasons and new surroundings (city and staff).
Through four games, the Chargers have failed to put it altogether. If the offense shines, the defense can’t make a stop; if the defense comes up big, the offense stalls. Meanwhile, special teams have killed the Chargers in almost every game.
Not only that, but the coaching by first-time HC Anthony Lynn and play-calling by Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has been suspect. General manager Tom Telesco should also be on the hot seat for making questionable decisions (draft and free agency) since taking over in 2013.
Will winning change anything? Is it too late for that? Who knows.
What I do know is that being a Chargers fan is extremely tough right now. Playing for this organization might be worse.