I'm done. I'm done criticizing Mike McCoy for being too conservative, done railing against Pagano for his play design and player use, etc. It's too stressful. I know I'm right about this, that the players and game-time decision percentages are being negatively influenced by the coaching staff, and that it's not an optimal situation for the organization right now. I'm done hoping that the coaching staff can coax this team to the playoffs. I'm done asking for Eric Weddle to play his actual position, for Kendall Reyes to stop being a 2-gap tackle, or for Derek Cox to be used only in man coverage or not at all. Done with all of it.
Because it doesn't matter. It's not going to change anything, and this team is who this team is. Aside from a drastic change like what we've seen out of new sabermetric darling "Riverboat Ron" Rivera in Carolina, it's just not going to happen.
And that's okay.
It's okay to understand that the scheme is going to take care of offense and land them somewhere around 10th in the league every year. It's definitely okay to know that Pagano is certain to be fired. It's okay to hope for a new DC that can make the most out of the limited talent on D. It's okay to know that Cox will probably be cut and hope that means Weddle can go back to being the best free safety in the league instead of one of its worst linebackers. It's probably not okay that Te'o isn't going anywhere, but I can deal with it.
Want to know why I can deal with it?
Because the team is finally headed in the right direction. They have young playmakers at key positions on offense. Keenan Allen, Ladarius Green, Danny Woodhead, D.J. Fluker and Ryan Mathews have all looked fantastic this year. We might even get Malcom Floyd back next year to play the #2 WR role he's always been suited to be. Johnnie Troutman looks like a fixture at LG for the next 5-7 years, Nick Hardwick can keep beating father time for a little while longer. Philip Rivers is back to being one of the 5 best QB's on the planet, and even has his 4th quarter mojo back a little bit.
The defense is a little harder to sort out, but assuming that the Chargers can bring back Donald Butler (and after an injury-plagued/largely ineffective 2013, they should be able to afford him) that Dwight Freeney / Melvin Ingram are around, that Weddle remains Weddle and they can don't completely whiff on two new CB's... and that they get a new Defensive Coordinator... the San Diego defense could be at least league average.
So that would leave the team w/ a top 10 offense, a top 5 QB and a league average defense, and a Head Coach that isn't going to win or lose games on his own. The defense would even have upside at key positions, and carry a wealth of pass rushers in Freeney, Ingram, Corey Liuget, Reyes, and Cam Thomas (assuming he is re-signed). If that sounds like the Indianapolis Colts of yesteryear, it should.
Because Tom Telesco is the GM! Tom Telesco, a "key cog" in constructing the Indianapolis Colts that averaged 12.6 wins per year since Peyton Manning became Peyton Manning in 1999. That team was built around a top 5-10 offense, a top 5 QB, and a league average defense with upside at pass rusher and safety. They even had a coach that was famous for being too conservative and costing his team games while "losing respectably."
That's what we, as Chargers fans, should expect for the future of this franchise. The team isn't going to win a bunch of games until its personnel catches up on defense. McCoy is going to keep "playing the percentages" during games, making decisions that would work in a vacuum but aren't really defensible when you start to poke at the identity of the team he actually, you know, coaches. But that's okay! Telesco can hopefully continue to mine gold in the draft (sorry for what I said about your Fluker pick, Tommy, but I still would've taken Kenny Vaccaro) and McCoy can keep deploying a scheme that catapults a collection of generally league average talent into the top 10 offenses in the league. As long as the defense keeps up - and I think that a new DC will go a LONG way, especially on 3rd down - this team is set to contend for as long as Rivers decided to keep playing.
Now, to actually hold up this whole "keep calm when Mike McCoy punts from the 35" vibe I have going on? That's probably going to be more difficult for me to do than it will be for the Chargers to contend in 2014. And that's okay, too.