We now present a quote from a Chargers team source to Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports regarding Antonio Gates:
“It’s harsh to say, but he looks old and fat. He’s not beating people. We don’t have any speed, we’re soft on defense, and we put so much on our quarterback. When he was playing great, we could kind of get away with it. Now he’s not playing very well, and it’s all falling apart,” the source said.
We can confirm that the quote did not come from LaDainian Tomlinson. Gates makes for an odd target for anyone still employed by the Chargers.
While there is truth that Gates is bigger and slower, it’s not like he’s struggling to produce. He had eight catches for 98 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against Green Bay. In three games since returning from his latest foot injury, Gates has 17 catches for 223 yards and two scores. That’s his usual output.
Silver points the finger at Chargers G.M. A.J. Smith for San Diego’s decline. That makes a lot more sense. The talent has eroded on this team, especially on defense.
On the list of problems in San Diego, Gates’ speed ranks somewhere between the loss of Legedu Naanee and Norv Turner’s haircut.