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Well-Known Member
Sep 25, 2006

I know it's only one loss, but San Diego's Marty Schottenheimer may be in deeper trouble than we thought.

If Marty wants to stay put, the leash has to come off Philip Rivers

It's no secret Schottenheimer's future with the Chargers is in jeopardy. He and general manager A.J. Smith are pro football's Odd Couple, sharing almost nothing outside of the Murphy Canyon building where they work.

And that's a problem, maybe now more than ever.

That's because the Chargers just lost a game they should've won, and would've won if the coaching staff removed the handcuffs from quarterback Philip Rivers. But leaning on someone with three games of NFL experience is not Schottenheimer's style. Never was. And if it never will be, there's going to be trouble in paradise.

Here's why: San Diego wants to see more of Rivers, who's valued so highly by the club's hierarchy that it chose him over Drew Brees and Eli Manning. But Schottenheimer is more inclined to put his trust in the league's top-ranked defense and the legs of LaDainian Tomlinson than he is an inexperienced quarterback.

Fair enough. But that faith could cost him, and we just saw how.

The Chargers bullied Baltimore for three and a half quarters, but couldn't put the Ravens away. Nevertheless, Schottenheimer played it close, choosing to win with field goals instead of reaching for touchdowns. In the end, he paid for it with a last-minute loss.

So it's one game, and losses happen. But losses like this happen too many times in San Diego to suit the fans, Smith and, in all likelihood, team president Dean Spanos. Sunday's defeat was the fifth time in two years the Chargers blew a fourth-quarter lead.

That's what you call a trend. And if what we saw Sunday is perceived as nothing more than Marty being Marty -- with no hope of change in the forecast -- then he's doomed as head coach of the Chargers.

Listen to radio-talk shows. Read angry e-mails sent to writers who cover the club. Hey, even hear a disappointed Keenan McCardell, whose streak of 104 consecutive games with a catch stopped Sunday. People are mad, and they're not going to take it anymore.

I understand. What I also understand is that there's nothing we -- or they -- didn't know. Schottenheimer has a 20-year record as a head coach and is predictable. His teams are about running the football, playing defense and not taking unnecessary chances, especially on the road.

He demonstrated that in the season opener, when he ran 48 times against Oakland and won 27-0. That was a road game, too, yet nobody had a problem with his approach. Then he ran 41 of his first 60 snaps against Baltimore and, suddenly, people are wondering what changed. Well, I'll tell you what changed.




Well-Known Member
Sep 25, 2006
That was Marty being Marty. Like him or hate him, his approach doesn't deviate. Yeah, I thought he let Sunday's game get away by not cutting Rivers loose, but then it dawned on me: Why would he? You're on the road against a quality defense with a rookie quarterback. Schottenheimer's history tells you what he'd do, and he followed the script.

He played it safe and tried to protect a lead with a defense he trusted.

Yeah, I liked what I saw in Rivers on that first series, too. The Chargers threw on five of their first nine snaps, with Rivers completing four -- including a 31-yard touchdown pass. I thought it was the start of something big, but --- pfffft! just like that -- the air went out of the offense.

Schottenheimer put the ball in the hands of Tomlinson and Michael Turner and took it away from Rivers, who threw one third-quarter pass. The Chargers turned to their defense after blowing a first-and-10 opportunity at the Baltimore 25 and entrusted that unit -- not Rivers -- to win for them.

For that Schottenheimer is getting skewered, but what's the big deal? That's his history. He is what he is, and if you don't like him now, you probably didn't like him five years ago. There is nothing new to Marty Schottenheimer, which means those calls to loosen his offense are pointless.

"He's Woody Hayes Jr.," said an NFC scout. "He doesn't change."

And that's why the future looks so glum. Listen, I like the guy, and I like his general manager. For the life of me, I don't know why they can't just get along. But they can't. Something must change, and once I thought it would be Schottenheimer's future. Then I saw Sunday's game and realized I was wrong.

So Schottenheimer has a quarterback who could be something special. So Rivers seems to be a star waiting to happen. Do you honestly think that's going to make Marty Schottenheimer alter the way he coaches? C'mon. He knows what he knows, and what he knows is that he got this far for a reason.

And it wasn't with a star quarterback.

Yeah, he had Joe Montana. It was at the end of his career. He had Bernie Kosar, too. He eclipsed 20 touchdown passes once under Marty. The closest he's come to a franchise quarterback was Brees when he threw 27 TDs in 2004, and that was the year where Schottenheimer ran Tomlinson 339 times.

So you know what you get with Schottenheimer. He plays to his strengths, and right now he has more faith in Tomlinson and his defense than he does in Philip Rivers.

Nevertheless, irate Boltheads demand that he change. It's not going to happen, people. Maybe he'd consider turning more to Rivers if he was out to satisfy his critics. But he's not. He's out to win the way he knows how to win, which won't cut it with his detractors.

And there are many. So many that, after watching the Chargers fizzle last weekend, I'm convinced now more than ever that he won't make it to 2007 as the team's head coach; that anything short of a Super Bowl can't save him.

For Marty's sake, that's too bad. But give the guy this: He's true to himself. If he goes out he goes out on his terms -- no apologies needed. He didn't dazzle anyone in Washington, yet all he did was win eight of his last 11 games with Tony Banks as his quarterback.

That wasn't enough to save him then, and Philip Rivers probably can't save him now.