Don't call this Martyball; it's fun to watch

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Oct 14, 2005

Marty Schottenheimer is not Don Coryell (you can understand him, for one thing). He is not Dan Henning or Kevin Gilbride (thank heaven). He is not Mike Riley (no one is that nice). He is not Bobby Ross (although comparisons could be made). He is not Tom Craft (he wears a headset).

He is what he is: Marty Schottenheimer, the winningest active coach in the NFL. And judging by my e-mails and voice mails, he is the problem with the Chargers, not the problem-solver. He is, in their minds, to San Diego football what Bruce Bochy is to San Diego baseball.

Schottenheimer is either too conservative – the biggest gripe – or out of touch. He never has been able to win the big game and the Chargers never will make it with him as coach, although the Coryell legions forget he never won the big game, either. They win in spite of Schottenheimer and lose because of him.

And all of this amounts to more manure than you'll find in Texas.

The Chargers, now easing through bye week, have played nine games, are 5-4, and the only questionable coaching performance I've seen was in Philadelphia, and it still was a game lost on a fluke, the Eagles' only blocked field goal return for a touchdown in their history. San Diego played not to lose that game.

So Schottenheimer isn't perfect. But he took over a bad team and in three years had it 12-4 and in the playoffs. He has this club poised to make a run. His team is fun to watch. He wins games, and if you don't win, you don't have a chance to play in January and February. A proven fact.

"Did you win? That's the ultimate litmus test," he says. "I always look back and say, 'Did you give the players the opportunity to win the game?' "

That's his job. Still, there are those who can't get Martyball out of their stomachs. This is not Martyball. Martyball is running it, hanging on to it, winning field position with special teams, creating turnovers and being smart. Against the Jets on Sunday, the Chargers had 12 penalties for 124 yards, two turnovers and sold far too much real estate on kickoff returns.

"And we still won the game," he says. "But that kickoff thing . . . it's my focus this week. We have to get better returning the ball and on coverage. I will not accept it. I told the team this is where it begins and ends and everything in between."

For the first time, Schottenheimer yesterday allowed offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips to talk to the media. So I asked Cameron, who claims he calls 99.9 percent of the plays and rarely is questioned, if Martyball is dead.

"I don't know what that is," Cameron, who actually has a voice, was saying. "I really don't know what that means. I know what he expects from me. This is his offense. He's the head coach. He's the guy who's accountable."

Schottenheimer, a tough old boot who has heard just about everything there is to hear, shakes his head and laughs it off.

"Martyball, like I've said, is dead," he says. "Look, we've rushed the ball 262 times for 1,126 yards and passed it 272 times for 2,146 yards. I don't think that's the general perception of what Martyball is."

Was it Martyball when, on third-and-long, late in the game in New York, with a lead, quarterback Drew Brees went back to pass, was sacked and fumbled the ball away?

"If we did that last year in the playoff game with the Jets, we would have lost the opportunity to win the game when we were in field goal position, and we did have an opportunity to win the game," he says.

There also were complaints that the coach should have gone for the touchdown instead of the field goal Sunday when the ball was on the Jets' half-yard line. But, with the Chargers up 28-20, the kick was the right play there.

"You've got to make it a two-possession game," he says. "If we go for the touchdown and don't make it, on that final drive all the Jets had to do was make a field goal to win."

Schottenheimer will not use injuries as an excuse, but he has a right to. He was without seven starters in New York, without six vs. Kansas City and Philadelphia, and should have won all three, two on the East Coast. He has played four straight teams coming off bye weeks (the NFL should be ashamed of itself).

"The reason why I don't use injuries as an excuse is because you make available to the football team a reason to lose," he says. "We've got some depth in a couple of spots. We've played through the injuries."

All things considered, Schottenheimer may be doing a better job coaching this team than he did last year. The end result may not be as positive. This is a brutal road the team is taking.

"It's a better football team than it was at this time a year ago," Schottenheimer says. "The defense has improved and the offense has a group of playmakers. The dynamics of this team are very good.

"It's just that the expectations for us last year were nothing. They're far higher this year."

On Nov. 7, 2004, the Chargers were 6-3. It wouldn't be wise to underestimate the old dog.
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Oct 29, 2005
I usually agree

I usually agree with Canepa so I can't really argue here, since it really is just an opinion. But if this team is really better than it was last year (which I agree it is), then why is it only 5-4? I know they were just one game better at this point last year but again, that included some "before-the-REAL-Drew-Brees-appeared" games. Marty himself doesn't make excuses for injuries or tougher schedule.

I've said this once and I'll say it again; the O-line's play has been very spotty this year. Carl Mauck is not an upgrade over Hudson Houck. AJ Smith misjudged badly when he let Houck walk away for the dollars. Did you all see the Cam Cameron interview on Cameron basically said the offense could only be as good as the line allowed it. And I took it to mean it had limited the offense this year.

But getting back to Martyball. I hate to point to specific questionable decisions he made because he has brought a lot of good things to this team. I am just severely doubtful he can take this team to the big game. Can someone put up a poll on that? It would be intreresting to read.


#GoIrish #Aztecs #SDGulls #Raiders #THFC #RipCity
Staff member
Jun 20, 2005
Chula Vista, CA
Daniel, the reason why Canepa thinks that this team is better than last year is simply beacuse they have been together as group for over a year and know the system. They have blown games by a total of 12 points and most experts will admit that the Bolts could be 8-1 right now.

Now the reality is that they are 5-4 and have a big challenge to get into the playoffs. If you look at their 1st nine games, before the season started, you could easily say that at best, the Chargers would be 5-4 with losses at Denver, NE, Philly, and at home against Pitt. So 5-4 to me is not too dissapointing. What makes it hard to swallow is how we've lost those 4 games.

As far Houck is conrened, if would have been nice to keep him. But Houck was willing to go for the cash instead of being part of a winning program. Mauck has been here in SD and helped us go the the Super Bowl before so I feel comtrable with him as our line coach. He has helped linemen such as Dielman and Jordan develop quickly.

Can Marty take us to the big game? Perhaps, he has come so close in KC and especially in Cleveland. I believe that this Chargers team has much more talent than his previous teams and can get us there. The core players are in place and even if they don't get there this year, I really believe that we can make it to the Super Bowl within the next 2-3 years.


Oct 29, 2005
Mauck is a journeyman coach. I don't dislike the guy -- he played for the Chargers in the 60s and 70s. But he is a not a top level coach, which is what Houck was, and the difference is signifant. I don't understand how money can be an issue when it doesn't even involve the cap. We'd all love to see a top-flight free agent corner come here. And it wouldn't matter to us if he came because of the all the money we threw at him. But if a coach or player left the Chargers for more money, how can we blame him either? To almost all the players and coaches, this is a business. They should get as much money as they can while they are in the business.

Going back to the o-line coaching, if Houck were here, there's no way LT would have had what, 17 yards at Philly. If he had just half a normal LT day, that's an easy Chargers win. And that's just one clear, tangible example in the coaches. I think AJ Smith has been golden as GM but letting Houck go was a bad move for the team.

Speaking of position coaching, when is everyone going to realize our DBs are playing poorly because their coach is terrible? Why is Stewart even in the league? Remember a couple years ago, Kiel was a really promising rookie? How much has he developed? None of the DBs are developing and Smth has spent some draft choices on them too. If you still can't see it, just compare the DBs against the DL. Phillips, Olshansky, Castillo, Merriman, Cesaire, Scott. They've gotten great returns for where those guys were drafted. Wayne Nunnely has done an outstanding job with them. Either Albert Lewis needs to get the DB job full time or they need to go get another guy. But their coach now is horrible.