OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 10: Brandon Myers #83 of the Oakland Raiders blocks a punt attempt by Mike Scifres #5 of the San Diego Chargers at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 10, 2010 in Oakland, California. This was the second blocked punt for the Raiders and Hiram Eurgene #31 of the Raiders returned this one for a touchdown.(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Once again, the Silver Fox himself went on XX1090 and talked with Darren Smith about the Chargers' Special Teams meltdown and what to expect from the team going forward. He also discussed the latest injuries on the team, and even had time to talk about El Capitan.
So with the preamble out of the way, on to the meaty stuff:
- Darren is getting tons of calls from dissatisfied fans. Acee hasn't been able to check his mailbag yet, and doesn't really want to right now.
- The only reason "Fire Norv" isn't being heard is because "Fire Crosby" (Chargers Special Teams Coach) is being shouted louder.
- What's the difference this year? The Special Teams coach is the same it's been in years past, so what's the problem?
- Kassim Osgood leaving is having a bigger impact than anyone realized. KO was commanding double- and triple-coverage, but no one on the team this year is commanding that kind of coverage. This frees up an extra one or two blockers for the other team to use elsewhere.
- You've heard it before, but the biggest issues definitely lie with the players themselves.
- There's the trickle-down effect of players now having to play both Special Teams, and more from scrimmage. Guys like Antwan Applewhite are playing more snaps on defense, then go to play on Special Teams, and it's affecting their play.
- You've got new players who are still getting adjusted.
- There are players who are not meeting expectations nor contributing at the level they did last year.
- CJ Spillman getting cut today was very predictable.
- AJ Smith wanted to give Fred Bennett a chance, but after a month, he said, "Yeah I made a mistake. Adios!"
Much more talk about the Special Teams breakdown after the jump. There's also an update on player injuries and a good discussion about Philip Rivers.
- It's easy to point to Kassim Osgood being let go this year as being a contributing factor, but specifically in the 2 blocked punts yesterday, his not being here had nothing to do with what happened. He would have already been 20 yards down the field on both blocked punts.
- Yesterday's deal was mental mistakes by a player (Applewhite). That player has taken responsibility for his mistakes.
- What has happened to the Chargers this season so far have been remarkable coincidences. The Chargers had punt coverage breakdown, they've had kickoff coverage breakdown, and now they've had punt blocking breakdown.
- Steve Crosby has not forgotten how to coach. He was Special Teams Coach of the Year 2 years ago. He's a good coach. But at some point, there is a breakdown in communcation and someone needs to be blown out off the team. The Chargers have taken the position, and will continue to down the path of replacing players on special teams, but they will not replace Coach Crosby.
- With anyone shouting "Fire Norv" or "Fire Crosby", Acee tells them to ask themselves, "Is that going to solve anything? What exactly will that accomplish?"
- Acee brings up the situation with the Miami Dolphins, and the Chargers position is different. It was well-known to Acee and the people he talks to that the Dolphins Special Teams coach was on his way out already, so it was expected he was getting fired.
- Chargers fans like to point to the Dolphins and say, "Look, they took definitive action! We need to as well!"
- The fact of the matter is, Steve Crosby's job is safe. They'll shuffle players on the team, but Crosby is safe.
- Kevin is making an effort to talk to Crosby this week, but isn't holding out much hope he'll get anything decent from him.
- Darren asks, "if you do get to talk to him, just ask him, 'so what is the problem?!'"
- Acee's response: well, Crosby is an old-school guy. He says what's on his mind, and that make the Chargers nervous, so that's why they're limiting his exposure.
- You can read into a lot of what Crosby doesn't say. You can tell he misses having KO on the team. You can tell he's frustrated with some of the injuries that have happened to players too.
- That doesn't mean he's not excited about coaching the team he has, and getting these guys into a position to play. Does he wish he had the other guys who were more experienced and knew how to get it done? Of course! But that doesn't mean they can't get these players ready to perform.
- Kion Wilson and Quentin Teal have been fantastic additions to Special Teams. It's been with their help that the Chargers have actually been pretty good (with a couple exceptions) in kickoff and punt coverage the last couple of games.
- Is Shawne Merriman hurt again? Acee laughs and says, "I don't believe he was ever unhurt." He didn't play a whole lot yesterday, Kevin estimates maybe 10 snaps. Merriman pulled himself out of the game, and got himself back in.
- It doesn't look good for Merriman. What does that mean? Well, we really don't know still.
- Acee stands by what he wrote last week about Merriman possibly not finishing out the season with the Chargers. He needs to be able to play more than 10 snaps a game, or else all his potential doesn't matter.
- If Merriman can't get on the field and play more than 10 snaps a game, the Chargers are just going to cut bait and let him go.
- We've all heard he's injured, but Acee doesn't know what's happened with Naanee.
- The Chargers are treating it as something serious, potentially forcing him to miss several games.
- He's being tested "right now". Acee hopes to learn more this afternoon.
- Acee is expecting Marcus to be the starting left tackle on Sunday.
- Brandyn Dombrowski will eventually be eased into Right Tackle, but for now it will remain Jeromey Clary.
- Darren: Is the team asking too much from Philip Rivers in the 4th quarter? "Hey Philip, we have 3:30 left in the game, you gotta come rescue us again."
- Acee agrees, and points out that when Rivers throws for over 375 yards in a game, the team is 0-4.
- So far the team is 0-3 in 4th-quarter comebacks this season.
- Philip is holding himself responsible, and admits he could have, and should have, made better plays in all these games.
- Ultimately though, Acee agrees with Darren that Rivers is being tasked with too much.
- Kevin did question Norv's play calling on that final drive yesterday. On the play where Rivers fumbled the ball, he was wondering why Norv wanted to throw. He speculates Nate Kaeding wanted the ball on a certain side of the field.
- Acee said the team should have just taken their chances with Nate. Heck, it's the regular season, so it should be a sure field goal.
- With all the preaching of "balance, balance, balance", in the end, Norv doesn't care about a balanced team, he wants Philip to pull another rabbit out of his hat.