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Who is to Blame if the Chargers Miss the Playoffs?

Would a healthy Ryan Mathews equal 1-2 more wins?  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Would a healthy Ryan Mathews equal 1-2 more wins? (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
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At this point in the NFL season, I find it difficult to come up with things I want to write about because everything has been beaten into the ground. Everyone knows what's necessary for the Chargers to make the playoffs, everyone knows how good Vincent Jackson is playing (and his contract situation) and everyone knows seemingly everything else about the team and the coaching staff. I am a fan of the unknown and rampant speculation.

One of the few unknowns left with this team is "Who is to blame for the poor start to every season?" Norv Turner is always the first to take the blame because the trend supposedly started with him taking over as Head Coach. However, that's not exactly true. Charger fans, and everyone really, tend to boil Marty Schottenheimer's entire San Diego coaching career to that 14-2 season, but here's a clearer picture of how his teams started (and finished) in comparison to Norv's:


2002: 4-1 (finished 8-8)
2003: 1-7 (finished 4-12)
2004: 3-3 (finished 12-4)
2005: 3-4 (finished 9-7)
2006: 4-2 (finished 14-2)

So, in plain English, Marty started strong and ended poorly in year one. Year two was a catastrophe that likes of which Charger fans have not seen under Turner. With the possible exception of his final season, each of his other seasons as Chargers coach looks similar to Norv's supposed trend of slow starts and fast finishes. Actually, just to make things clearer....


2007: 2-3 (finished 11-5)
2008: 3-5 (finished 8-8)
2009: 2-3 (finished 13-3)
2010: 2-5 (at least 8-8, as high as 10-6)

Is that really so much worse? I guess you could make an argument that it is, but outside of the fact that they run different training camps and might adjust to things at different speeds....I don't know that the Head Coach has enough of an influence over a team to effect their record that drastically.

Anyways, I'm getting away from the point I wanted to make. It's this: At the end of the failed season, somebody or something needs to take the blame for the failure. Last season it seemed a lot of that blame went on to Nate Kaeding. The year before that, the blame was placed on the unfortunate injuries to Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson. So....if the season ends with the Chargers not making the playoffs....who gets the blame?