Former Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson sees San Diego struggling this season, but he doesn’t think quarterback Philip Rivers deserves the blame.
Instead, Tomlinson said on NFL Network’s Around the League Live, it’s General Manager A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner who have failed to build a complete team that Rivers can lead to a title. Asked if Rivers has enough talent around him, Tomlinson answered, “I don’t believe he does,” and Tomlinson noted that the Chargers let offensive playmakers like Vincent Jackson and Darren Sproles get away.
“When you look at the people they have lost over the years and Philip Rivers’ numbers have gone down because of the guys he has lost,” Tomlinson said. “You talk about a guy like Vincent Jackson, who has picked up where he left off in San Diego now in Tampa Bay leading that team in receptions. You talk about Darren Sproles who is doing a phenomenal job in New Orleans right now. Some of the offensive line that you don’t have any more – he has lost a lot of talent around him. I said it last year, there is too much pressure on Philip Rivers. He needs guys around him to help him win games.”
Tomlinson said he believes that if the Chargers miss the playoffs, Turner and Smith will be out of work.
“We heard the rumblings out of San Diego last year when they had the poor season [and] didn’t make the playoffs for the second straight year,” Tomlinson said. “At that point, Dean Spanos really thought about making a change, but he didn’t. He said he would give them one more chance to try to right the ship. So here we are at the point where the San Diego Chargers are in danger of missing the playoffs for the third straight year. At that point, the way this organization has worked, you fired Marty [Schottenheimer] after a 14-2 year. [After] many successful years in San Diego, you fire a coach like Marty Schottenheimer. How can you justify keeping A.J. Smith and Norv Turner when you don’t go to the playoffs three straight years?”
That’s a good question. And the likely answer, if the Chargers don’t turn it around, is that Spanos can’t justify keeping Smith and Turner.