A.J. Smith: Rally or prepare for “new era in Chargers’ football”


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.

30 responses to “A.J. Smith: Rally or prepare for “new era in Chargers’ football”

  1. At least AJ Smith is saying something.

    But truthfully, this mess is not AJ’s doing. He does not have the authority to fire, or hire, the head coach. That responsibility is with Dean Spanos, (son of the) owner, president & CEO of the team. The Chargers have talent – the players are not the problem.

    Personally, I don’t see how Dean Spanos can stomach what he witnessed on Monday Night Football. I would’ve made a coaching change immediately, especially since the Bolts are going into a bye week. I feel it is accurate to say that most NFL owners would have made a coaching change.

    But Dean Spanos has remained totally silent about the Monday night prime time debacle. This has been very disappointing to fans.

    Let’s clarify something else. It was Dean Spanos who decided to fire Marty Schottenheimer after the 2006 season, not AJ. Dean put AJ in a bind by at first giving Marty a vote of confidence the day after the first round playoff loss that season, then firing him a month later. Most of the coaching candidates in Feb. 2007 were already committed elsewhere when the Chargers HC slot came open. AJ did the best he could putting together a list of available HC candidates, from which Norv Turner was chosen.

  2. They could have done this last year, but they wanted to keep costs low, not have to pay additional contracts, and keep the team nice and movable to L.A.

    The scoreboard tells you all you need to know about that Chargers, and I’m not talking about the scores that are on it. I’m talking about that fact that it’s the smallest video screen in the league, straight out of the 80’s. They are not putting anything into this team, and trying to leverage a new downtown stadium (not going to happen) or a move to L.A. (bet on it.)

    I feel bad for the Chargers fans.

  3. “We have some outstanding, talented players on this team and some outstanding coaches across the board,” Smith said.

    This is classic AJ Smith.

    What he’s REALLY saying is “Hey, I built a great team, it’s not on me.”

  4. Most San Diego fans want to get a jump on the “New Era.”

    I’d also note the widespread disappointment with Philip Rivers. Previously everyone’s defended him in the previous two sub-par season, but fans seem to be turning against him this year. Its dawning on people he may just be Hasselback-good instead of Drew Brees-good. If the season continues as the last two games, it’ll be more like Kyle Orton-good.

    I’d like to see the trifecta gone – fire AJ and Norv, trade Rivers to move up draft choices to snag either Gino Smith or Matt Barkeley, and draft offensive linemen.

  5. Largely on you Smith. You are a well documented douche and players don’t want to join your team.

    You forced your best WR out of town and did nothing to replace him. You have an TE whose best years are 5 years gone. Your best WR is a #2 on some teams, #3 on others. Brown will return at some point (still another #2 type), but until then, nobody for Rivers to throw to.

    Your defense is filled with a bunch of average/no name castoffs.

  6. Kind of an overreaction, wouldn’t you say? I mean, they are still tied for 1st place in their division. They had a couple of losses in a row….first of all, they won that Saints game and the refs handed it to Drew Brees & co.

    They gave up a big lead on Monday, but that kind of thing just happens from time to time.

    They are still in 1st place, and the season isn’t even half-over yet. Why on earth is he talking like the sky is falling?

    “A slow, steady rise from the ashes…”

    From the ashes of first place?

  7. I’m NOT an AJ fan, but respect that he has ‘manned-up’. I am not a Norv fan, but recent bonehead calls take me further over the edge. Having said that….a fish stinks from the head, down, and maybe Archie Manning knew something we didnt when keeping Eli out of the powder blue uniform.

  8. A.J. Smith is a Turd.

    He acts like a tough guy and a big shot.

    Looks like Eli knew what he was doing when he said no way.

    I feel bad for Chargers fans, they deserve a lot better than this. Great City, Great Fan Base, lousy Head Coach and a jerk for a GM.

    Hopefully the next round of decision makers will be better!

  9. AJ’s moves have completely backfired…He has let Brees, Turner, Sproles and VJ walk away receiving only compensation picks in return.

    To replace VJ he signed alligator arm Meachem who Brees couldn’t even make look good and injury prone Bronco castoff Eddie Royal

    He has a depleted O-Line after injuries and retirements so what does he do? he drafted an injured guard that can’t play until 2013 at the earliest.

    his 2012 first round “BUZZ” draft pick “Melvin Ingram” is basically sitting on the bench most of the game.

    Since letting Rodney Harrison he has not been able to replace him with even an average safety. We’re talking 10 years people.

    Just some examples of AJ’s ineptitude. He quickly built a ton of cred in San Diego with the perception that he fleeced the G-Men in the 2004 draft but now even that trade looks awfully lopsided for the other team.

    And he only fires coaches that go 14-2.

    AJ makes it easy to be a monday morning QB.

    Good riddance

  10. I will say one thing for AJ Smith, He is not in Denial like Scott Pioli. Pioli lives in a fantasy land where the Chiefs are Good, Matt Cassel is a Good QB and Romeo Crennell is a Good coach.

  11. It is what it is AJ. You were warned when you hired a losing coach and your arrogance whent against good advise. The best thing that could happen for Charger fans is for Spanos to sell the team to a football person. You just don’t fit in with the other owners.

  12. This guy chose Rivers over Brees and Norv over Marty. Umm, yeah, I know where the changes should start.

  13. Turner is a great offensive coordinator… but a bad coach.

    doesn’t help when Rivers has consistently played like the most overrated QB in the NFL the past two years but Turner should definitely be fired.

  14. The new era starts in L.A. next season. Turd-ner will be gone along with AJ, and a big name coach will be hired. My guess is Gruden. His flamboyant style will be just what the front runners in that city crave.

    It won’t matter, though. This franchise had its window under Marty and the first few seasons under Turd-ner, before the “Norval” effect drained the team’s chances more and more year after year.

    The Chargers will be bottom feeding for the next two decades.

  15. If Philip Rivers were adopted by Archie and Olivia Manning then he would be the 4th best QB in the family.

  16. AJ is a clown, how does a Charger fan actually defend this joke of a GM? He is too arrogant for that job, you have won nothing with him, yet I always hear about all that talent. I believe the Chargers have talent, but that talent doesn’t reflect the schemes. AJ hired the coach, if Norv goes, then AJ must as well.

  17. I like rivers but this team is so cheap. You have to spend money somewhere. Takes money to make money

  18. I don’t think Dean will pay Gruden’s asking price, maybe we could get Herm Edwards I know he doesn’t have an overall winning record but he’s coached some pretty bad teams. He had two years at KC with double digit wins and he had NOBODY on those teams … that’s a sign of a good coach.

  19. It’s been reported that the Manning intel on the Chargers came from Ryan Leaf. Leaf and Peyton became chummy during their draft and it was Leaf that broke down how they operate.

  20. The sad thing is the Chargers will beat the Browns next week and the Broncos will lose to the Saints so SD will Bevin sole possession of first place again and give us Charger fans false hope. This team will never get over the hump with Norv in charge. Several rumors say Gruden is politicking hard for the Chargers job.

  21. Any other owner in the league, Smith would be long gone, and should be. Norv is horrible, but Smith is worse. The worst management in all of professional sports, led by the worst GM in all of sports, has taken this franchise right down the flusher… I can only assume they’re trying to make it easier to move to LA, NO one could be this bad without trying to be, they have to be pulling a Major League/Natural ploy, suck so bad no one cares if you leave.

  22. The Chargers will start over again. I stuck by them when they were 1 and 15 and then the owner fires the coaches that do well. This team needs new ownership. As a fan, thats the only way I will remain a fan. It’s easyer to change my loyalty.

  23. humb0lt says: Oct 18, 2012 11:37 AM

    Personally, I don’t see how Dean Spanos can stomach what he witnessed on Monday Night Football. I would’ve made a coaching change immediately, especially since the Bolts are going into a bye week. I feel it is accurate to say that most NFL owners would have made a coaching change.
    Last week humb0lt said Norval was taking this team to the Super Bowl this season, and now he wants him fired. Most NFL owners would have made a coaching change last offseason, and the new coach would have been wise to bench Phumbling Philip after his third or fourth turnover.
    Choo choo.

  24. Could the conspiracy theory be that they lost on purpose so they’ll have a terrible season and be “forced” to move to LA? Could the refs have been paid off in the Saints game? (Let’s face the facts, those were Bogus calls)

    The Chargers really do look good this year, when they’re not letting it slip through their fingertips. And if they were to have an amazing season, why would leave San Diego?

    Makes sense to me… But I personally would prefer them to stay. So if they could get it together after this Bye week and come back strong, I’d appreciate it!


    A life long fan.

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