Usually, I’ll write an article penning my thoughts on the Chargers game the day after it happens. I wanted to give a rational rather than emotional piece, so I decided to wait an extra day this week to let the anger and disappointment subside. Only, those feelings haven’t gone anywhere. If anything, they’ve intensified the further away from the Dolphins game we’ve gotten. They’re not going away, either.
As NFL fans, we wait eight months for the new NFL season to start. That’s eight months of anticipation for the new season, for the chance to have a clean slate. Every team is equal. Anything can happen. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and there’s no feeling in sports quite like the first game of a new season. It doesn’t matter how bad your team is, or how unfancied they might be in the media - they’ve got a chance. This might be their year. This could be their time.
Well, the Los Angeles Chargers have managed to crush all that optimism in two weeks.
An outsider (or an optimist) will say that’s stupid. 12% of 0-2 teams still go on to make the playoffs, and the Chargers could easily have won both games. Sure, 12% of 0-2 teams go on to make the playoffs, but I’ve got as much chance at winning the lottery as the Chargers do at making the playoffs after an 0-2 start in the most loaded division in football. And I don’t play the lottery.
The fact that the Chargers could have won both games is no comfort because that’s just symptomatic of the problem. It’s quintessential Chargers. So close, but so far. They’re constantly voted the best bad team in sports, a prize akin to winning a certificate for ‘effort’. The Chargers are a participation trophy, and they’re lucky to even get that.
With one minute to play during the fourth quarter, Cody Parkey lined up to kick a 54-yard field goal that would give the Dolphins the lead. I remember thinking to myself “I’m glad their kicker is only Cody Parkey. He’s not great, he’ll probably miss this.” He didn’t because he was playing the Chargers in the fourth quarter. It wouldn’t have mattered who the kicker was. The Dolphins could have pulled a double amputee out of the crowd and he’d have made the kick with ten yards to spare.
Playing against the Chargers in the fourth quarter is the real world equivalent of turning the difficulty down to Rookie. It doesn’t matter how badly you play, or how many mistakes you make. It’s not possible to lose. The Dolphins tried their hardest. When the Chargers were confused about whether to spike the ball or send the FG team on, the Dolphins called a timeout as it looked like the clock may have expired on them. They literally handed the game to the Chargers on a plate, only for Younghoe Koo to miss his second makeable FG of the game and lose the game.
So far, it looks like Younghoe Koo isn’t good enough for the NFL. A competent organization would probably have actually found that out in preseason by testing him. Instead, the Chargers gave Koo one kick in the entirety of preseason before deciding that they’d give him the job anyway.
That wasn’t enough time to make an accurate assessment of him? I’m fucking shocked. Next, you’ll be telling me that you can’t judge a player from watching two minutes of highlights on YouTube. Considering the Chargers recent draft record, I’m assuming that’s how they do all their scouting.
Instead of cutting Koo or bringing in competition for him, the Chargers are staying with Koo for now, presumably because they want to give him more time to see if he’s up to the task. If only there was a series of meaningless games designed for that EXACT FUCKING PURPOSE.
The Chargers are painfully incompetent, and that runs all the way up and down the hierarchy. I don’t know about you, but if I was moving a team to play their first ever game in a new city, I’d probably try to make a first impression. Instead, the Chargers had possibly the worst debut in history.
Things got off to a hilariously bad start when the Chargers very own GameDay Magazine accidentally forgot to change Michael Spanos’ biography, describing his role in the ‘on-going effort to bring a new stadium to the San Diego Region.’
Today's #Chargers GameDay magazine. Nice to see Michael and Dean are still working tirelessly toward a San Diego solution! pic.twitter.com/2LKWNkgkgA— Annie Heilbrunn (@annieheilbrunn) September 17, 2017
I have no idea how that’s possible. It wouldn’t be for 31 other NFL teams. Every other NFL team would have remembered ‘hey, maybe let’s not mention that city we just stabbed in the back.’ But for the Chargers, it’s poetic. Nothing has changed. It’s a new year and a new city, but it’s the same team consistently finding ways to lose and disappoint you. The efforts to find a new stadium in San Diego were a half-assed failure, just like this team is come Sundays. Why
lie about mention all the great work the team did in moving to L.A. when you can talk about how they failed. Again. Failure is in the Chargers DNA. Scratch that. Failure is the Chargers DNA.
Tickets for the Dolphins game were selling for $230, with parking costing up to another $100. Fuck that. I’ll give them $5 to go into the stadium for the last minute of the game because the first 59 don’t matter with the Chargers. Genuinely. They could be playing against a team of nobodies - or, as they were called last year, the Cleveland Browns - and they’d still find a way to decide the game on the final play. Just let me pay my five bucks, see how the Chargers manage to lose this week and go home. Don’t make me stick around for all the other shit. That goes against the Geneva Convention.
If I had been at StubHub this week, I’d have seen a not quite full stadium (I don’t care what you say, not selling out 27,000 seats for an NFL game is an absolute farce), with a lot of Powder Blue Rivers jerseys. A suspicious amount. If you were watching the game on TV like me, you’d have noticed that there seemed to be an awful lot of those around. That’s because the team decided they needed to bribe people to get them to buy tickets, and sent every single season ticket holder a brand new Powder Blue Rivers Jersey. I thought it was stupid until I saw it on TV because it makes it easy to spot the old fans. Spoiler alert: There aren’t many left.
I don’t know why I even felt the need to clarify that. Of course, there aren’t. The Chargers organization absolutely buried the goodwill and support they had in San Diego to go and play second fiddle to the Rams in Los Angeles. Except it’s more like 10th fiddle. Los Angeles does not want the Chargers. Want proof? The mayor came out and said it! L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said that “it would have been nice if they had stayed put where they are.” We’re so excited to have two teams back in L.A. again after all this... wait, you want to send who? Fuck that. No. Go away. Los Angeles is getting the Chargers essentially for free, and they still don’t want them. NFL teams are the most lucrative in sports, and the Chargers literally cannot be given away. Ewww, the Chargers? I wanted socks for Christmas. Can you get a refund?
The Chargers are at StubHub for the foreseeable future, which is bad in every sense of the word. The one good thing about StubHub was being able to hear Philip Rivers command everything at the line of scrimmage. That’ll come in really handy in Week 17 when the 4-11 Chargers play the Raiders. You’ll be able to hear Rivers soul give out on him as he tries to tell the #17 TE where he needs to stand.
And, really, that’s what makes me angriest about StubHub and the move to Los Angeles. Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates are two all-time greats, and they’re wasting away their final years of their career. Both will retire before the team leaves StubHub, which means that two of the best Chargers in history will finish out their days playing in front of fewer people than you get at some High School games. That’s no way to go. They deserve so much better.
Antonio Gates broke the record for TD catches for a TE on Sunday, making him the best (red zone) TE to EVER play the game. EVER. That’s an unbelievable achievement. But because this is the Chargers, the best TE in history was overshadowed by a rookie missing a fucking kick to lose the game.
Gates is the best TE in history, and he was relegated to an afterthought because the Chargers are so incompetent that they can’t find a way to beat a team who’s QB doesn’t want to be playing football, and who’s starting LB went missing before the game. If they’d just done their job, Gates would have grabbed the headlines and the media attention that he so richly deserves. Instead, we get 10,000 more tweets about how bad it must be to be a Chargers fan. Yeah, it fucking sucks. I wouldn’t recommend it. I have a friend who’s a Jets fan and I’m jealous of him. At least you know you’re awful.
Still, some Chargers fans actually thought that the team had won because after Younghoe Koo missed that field goal somebody fired the goddamn fireworks anyway. You have one job - fire these if they score - and you fuck it up. At least the Chargers hire employees who can be trusted to do things the Chargers way.
At least there was one slightly amusing story to come out this week, as El Pollo Grill in San Diego is giving away free tacos every time the Chargers lose this year. That’s approximately twelve weeks of free tacos. San Diego is going to get incredibly fat. When the Chargers come back to San Diego in 2038 after being hounded out of L.A., they’re going to find a ghost town, with more empty mobility scooters than people. “What happened?” asks a Chargers employee.
“The Chargers happened,” says a lone voice.
“The Chargers happened.”