A recap on the predictions I have already made:
- At least 3 Chargers draft picks will be starters by Week 1 (Status: Uh-oh)
- CBD will win the slot WR job, and impress a lot of people along the way
- Vaughn Martin will be the starting RDE
- Jonathan Crompton will fumble at least one clipboard
- Punt Returning duties will be handed to either CBD or Antoine Cason
- David Binn, Gary Banks and Legedu Naanee will throw some footballs and look like QBs
- The team will get through the entire Training Camp and Preseason without a single arrest or negative news story
This time through I only have two to add to the pile, but they're pretty big and ones that would make a lot of Chargers fans happy.
Marcus McNeill will be the starting LT by Week 1
Will a long-term deal gets signed? I have no idea. Will the reduced-money offer be signed? No clue. Will the Chargers accept Marcus wanting to sign for the original RFA tender amount? AJ Smith is on record as say he would not, so probably not, but maybe!
Here's what I know. I know how much better McNeill makes the offensive line and I know how much Marcus does not want to spend this season watching the Chargers from his couch. I know that the team really likes Marcus and he really likes the team and this town. AJ Smith is a tough business man, but he's not stupid.
At some point cooler heads will prevail and MM will come in for a meeting. The talks may get contentious, MM might even say something about how arrogant and stubborn the front office is, but I think sometime around the 4th preseason game Marcus will be at practice and fans will calm the hell down.
Shawne Merriman will be in San Francisco on 9/2, wearing blue and gold
It seems the last two preseasons I've spent a lot of time defense Shawne, and I understand why. Until I met the man in person, I had no idea who he was. He may have been immature, egocentric, etc. However, my perspective changed on him last preseason during a 5 minute interview and now I find myself on the smaller of two armies in the "Is he a douchebag?" war.
Here's my stance on the current situation: Shawne is nothing if not a leader. When I heard the story after last season about him calling out Antonio Cromartie several times in the locker room for not tackling, I wasn't the least bit surprised. Guys like Merriman put their all on the line to win, and when someone else on the same team doesn't give that same amount it's very frustrating because it makes them wonder "Why bother trying?" In a nutshell, that's the definition of a leader. A guy who demands the best from himself and expects the best from his teammates, and a man who is willing to get in a few faces and stay after practice a few times with the young kids to teach them as well.
I don't buy into this crap about "Shawne's from a rough background and that makes him nervous about being in such a volatile situation." I think there's two distinct situations that Shawne is looking at.
Situation #1: Shawne comes to camp right now, with nothing changing. At some point he catches someone slacking. He gets in the guy's face and tells him he needs to try harder because the team is trying to win a championship. Guy replies with something like "Man, why do you even care? You're gonna be out of here next week." The guy won't be far from the truth, and obviously Shawne's message won't get across.
A wise man once told me "It's impossible to lead a ship from the lifeboat." If you're going to be a captain, the men you're looking in the eye need to know that you're in it with them. At least for this season. Otherwise they'll find it rather pointless to listen to or live up to the promises they're making. Shawne doesn't want to be on the lifeboat, he wants to be on the ship.
Situation #2: Someone makes some statement that Shawne is a Charger for 2010 at least. Shawne comes in, addresses his teammates with some sort of "I don't care about my contract or the future, I am here and focused on this year" speech, and almost all of the issues from Situation #1 are gone.
He doesn't need the C on his chest, and he doesn't even need to replace Cooper as the biggest defensive leader. If the team lets it be known to all of his teammates that Shawne is here for the duration of 2010, and we'll figure out the rest later, then he's on the ship. He's with the men. Football is truly a season-by-season game, especially with all the turnover, and each one of those seasons is it's own battle. All Shawne wants is assurance for his brothers that he'll be here until the battle is over.
I am aware that I'm often times an overly-optimistic person. I am also aware that time heals a lot of wounds, and that football players really hate not playing football. I think both of these guys eventually meet the team somewhere in the middle, and the team could very well come down from their stubborn stance and start negotiatiing because the players have something on their side that nobody has brought up and I didn't think about until last night: the stadium vote.
Prop C, which was the vote to build a ballpark downtown for the Padres, passed easily in large part due to the team's run to the World Series in 1998. Fandom was at an all-time high, which turned into tons and tons of votes for "Whatever the team wants!" The same could be true this year, and to make it happen the Chargers know they need to field the best team (and the one with the least amount of headaches) that would build the most fan enthusiasm. The best Chargers team is the one with Marcus McNeill and Shawne Merriman on it.