Give Chargers general manager A.J. Smith credit — he’s not in denial.
After watching the team he built specifically to avoid a fold-job fold the last two weeks, Smith admitted that the current administration has 10 weeks to save jobs.
“I take full responsibility for the present mess this team is in at this point in time,” Smith said, via Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego. “The construction and direction of this organization is on my watch. In the next 10 games we will either rally and see a slow, steady rise from the ashes to a division championship – or the beginning of a new era in Chargers’ football.”
If recent evidence is all you look at, you’d stack the odds on Smith looking for a new place to work. Gagging away a late lead to the winless Saints was one thing, allowing Peyton Manning to lead the Broncos to 35 unanswered points and overcome a 24-0 halftime deficit speaks to a problem greater than blocking and tackling or the lack thereof.
“We have some outstanding, talented players on this team and some outstanding coaches across the board,” Smith said. “But obviously we cannot play as a team. We appear to not be able to handle adversity or finish games. Individual and team confidence appears to be going south.”
At the same time, the Chargers enter their bye week with a 3-3 record, tied for first in their division with the Broncos.
But Smith is a realist as well.
“It was an embarrassing and humiliating performance by a team going in the wrong direction fast,” he said. “We played a team that’s coming together fast and building confidence. Peyton Manning had one of the greatest second-half performances I’ve ever seen in my time in the league …
“We have dropped three out our last four games [and lost] on back-to-back national broadcasts. We are about as low as a team can get right now and going into the longest bye we will ever experience.”
And if they don’t turn it around over the next 10 weeks, Smith, coach Norv Turner or both will likely have a longer bye in front of them.