Tomlinson: 'It's a wake-up call' Bolts not panicking, but wary of downward spiral
By Kevin Acee UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
September 25, 2007
They never expected to be at this point, answering these questions, trying to squelch the doubts raining all around them and even bouncing around their own heads.
No one is denying the time is nigh for urgency.
“I'm concerned, but I'm not as concerned as I would be if this were a team like back when we went 4-12,” LaDainian Tomlinson said. “I'm concerned, because it's easy to continue on in a downward spiral if we let it. But I think I know this team, and everyone is disappointed in the way we've started.”
A day after losing for the second straight week, things looked a little better to the Chargers. The perspective of time and the realization of the opportunity that lies immediately ahead has the Chargers feeling somewhat better.
“The biggest thing is to get back here on a Monday, to be around all the guys and you start looking around and say, 'Man we have LaDainian Tomlinson, Jamal Williams, Shawne Merriman. We've got a good team,' ” defensive end Luis Castillo said. “Then you get in a meeting, and you hear some of the things that are said, and you realize we have a group of talented guys that are going to put in the work and do everything it takes to get back on track.
“To get back here, to let the loss set in, get around the guys, talk about mistakes and watch film you realize we're not that far away.”
Call those glasses rose-colored if you wish, but the fact is the Chargers played their best game of the season Sunday at Green Bay. Usually so formidable in close games in the fourth quarter, they simply did not put Green Bay away.
Missed tackles. Missed passes. Missed blocks. Brett Favre, missed. Sunday was certainly a blown opportunity. In a way, some players said, this one hurt more than the New England rout that preceded it because this one could have been won.
“We felt like we gave it away because we were so close,” linebacker Stephen Cooper said.
“There were four or five opportunities we had to finish that game off,” Norv Turner said. “We came up short. But we certainly played throughout the game with a lot more consistency. I think we made a step. I know what our expectations are. I don't want to sound like I am in any way satisfied. There were opportunities to finish that game off, and that's the next step we have to make.
“This team, the expectation level is extremely high. Obviously, from a coaching standpoint we're always going to address it. I know what we have to do. We have to go have a great week of preparation and find a way to beat Kansas City. I think our guys understand the circumstance we're in and how critical each of our games is – particularly this week.”
Tomlinson, the frustrated superstar everyone is watching so closely now to gauge his every emotion, also pointed out some positives and said the Chargers were “close.”
Asked the difference between 2006 and '07, Tomlinson echoed the sentiment some teammates had proffered in Sunday's aftermath.
“I don't know,” he said. “And to be honest with you, I'm sick and tired of talking about last year, because this is not last year. People get caught up in what we did last year. This is not last year's team. This is this year's team. It's a whole different team. We need to focus on this year and quit looking backward.”
He also said the Chargers ought to be good and alert now.
“Of course it's a wake-up call,” he said. “You don't want it to continue a downward spiral. You find yourself 1-5, and all of a sudden it's over. It's over at 1-5. You don't want to get there. We have to find a way to win a game.”
Tomlinson, as well as other players, were up-front prior to the season about the difficulty of the Chargers' first five games. Perhaps in the interest of not slighting the Raiders, Tomlinson has added a game to his assessment of the schedule.
“We said the first six games were going to be a tough stretch,” Tomlinson said. “We wanted to be at 5-1 after six games, or 4-2. We obviously know we're not going to be 5-1.”
What he said before the season was, “Judge us after the first five games. That's when you'll see the team we are . . . If we're 2-3 or 1-4 – guys will be 'Hey what's going on?' ”
There were no great soliloquies among themselves yesterday, no rah-rah speeches that would reek of desperation. But in an effort to continue to improve and to make sure things don't get worse, some veterans have said some things and will say more.
“It's going to be a different practice on Wednesday,” Cooper said. “A lot of guys are going to be more vocal trying to get guys to do the right things.”
Now would be a good time. It's not now or never, just real close to that cliff.
The next three games, which will bring the Chargers to their bye week in mid-October, are against AFC West opponents.
“We haven't played a division game yet,” Tomlinson said. “Winning championships starts in your own division. We have to take care of our division. These next three we have to be ready to play – ready to play a complete game and be willing to go the extra mile.”
Fantasy Football: "Luck is where preparation meets opportunity"
I wonder if many of the players were so happy to have Marty gone that they just thought they could throw their helmets on the field and win. It can be easily argued that they took a big hit at head coach by replacing a sound head coach with a OC. I do think they will wake up and start playing much better, especially on D. Look for them to roll over the Chiefs and start winning consistantly from here on out.
I think, therefore I am. I think fantasy, therefore I am unreal?
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