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‘I’m back’: Parenthood, Chargers, and other scary words

It’s the return of the mack, jedi, king...whatever floats your boat.

Baltimore Ravens v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The month of November somehow seemed to both drag on forever and speed right along for me at the same time.

The second my daughter was born on November 1st, life has been completely and entirely about her. I do not want to leave her side at any point and it feels awful when I must escape for a needed errand or appointment. The need to keep my focus on her at all times has had some pretty big positives, however. The biggest being that I haven’t suffered through the current state of the Chargers in the same manner I would have had I not been on parental leave.

But that’s about to change.

That’s because we’re back, baby!

In all, I am owed up to six months total of parental leave. Since we’re in the middle of the season, I chose to take a single month off for these first important and precious moments and I plan to finish out my remaining leave split up between the end of the season, the NFL Combine, and the 2024 NFL Draft. For now though, it’s time to hunker down and grind through the final handful of games as we slowly circle the drain of the 2024 NFL season.

With the team standing at 4-7 entering today’s game against the lowly Patriots (2-9), it’s easy to believe they’ll exit with their fifth win of the year before the schedule gets shaky. The team’s final six games in order are against the Broncos at home, at the Raiders, home with the Bills, at the Broncos, and then the season finale at SoFi with the Chiefs.

Before the season, I would have believed those final five games would play out with the Chargers going 3-2 to finish the year. That doesn’t sound all that impressive, but I would also would have been accounting for them to have a winning record entering that stretch. They don’t, and now I could feasibly see the team losing all five if everything continues to go south at the current hasty pace. That would leave the Chargers with a 5-11 record and a top-10 pick. I shudder at the thought of having to slog through all of that to officially enter draft season but that’s the price we’d pay to potentially land a blue-chip prospect.

Of course, that outcome assures that Brandon Staley (and rightfully Tom Telesco, as well) would be gone from the franchise. Many insiders are currently sharing similar thoughts and “vibes” about what the team could be planning to do following the end of the season and most of it overlaps with a potential “clean house” strategy.

It seems only fitting that I enter a new phase of my personal life just before the Chargers are about to do the same. Telesco has led the Chargers front office for over a decade and he has just three playoff appearances and zero postseason wins to show for it. Add in that his latest appearance ended in the third-largest blown lead in playoff history and you’ve got one heck of an exclamation point to punctuate his resume (or lack thereof).

Which direction will we see the Spanos family take the franchise? Will they try to bounce the other direction and hire a veteran head coach with a proven track record? If you’re hiring from inside current NFL circles, would they be able to find one who rightfully deserves another chance? After all, if they’re a free agent, it means they didn’t get the job done elsewhere.

Could we see them take another shot at a young, up-and-coming coach like Detroit’s Ben Johnson? What about stealing Jim Harbaugh away from Michigan? Could the former coach who took the 49ers to a Super Bowl a little over a decade ago make the jump back to the NFL, especially after all the red tape and bureaucracy he’s had to endure this year, alone?

What about the general manager position? Do they go the experienced route or do they make a move for another young mind the same way the Vikings and Bears went for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Ryan Poles, respectively? What about the Bill Belichick coach/GM combo meal? Who knows at this early juncture, but anything and everything should be on the table as this franchise heads into one of it’s rockier eras in recent memory.

So when it comes down to it, it’s great to be back, I wish things went better while I was away, but that’s just the way it is. Let’s get back to what we do best: Peddle an immense amount of cautious optimism to ease the pain of another season fallen short of expectations.

Oh man, it’s good to be back.