This Is The Season Of What Now

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I cannot believe it’s time for Opening Sunday.  I planned to watch all three preseason games, but ended up not viewing a single play.  I saw a few highlights, FAITHFUL READER, but didn’t go through any of the recorded contests on my DVR.  Let’s be honest, there wasn’t much to see.  That was Brandon Staley’s plan all along.  I have no doubt that when he was hired (and a big reason that he got the job to begin with), that his plan to keep players healthy was a cornerstone of his plan to remake the Chargers.  He can and will say that what happened in the past isn’t his concern.  Anthony Lynn did the same thing.  So many people wonder why Koo was let go in 2017, but do they remember those first two games?  He very well could have been a scapegoat for those losses, but it was pretty obvious that the culture of the late Norv and McCoy years was still there.  Sure, they all seemed to be on the same page by the final game against Raiders.  But the two games at New England and KC that would have put that team in the playoffs were losses.  The next year felt like the team took a step forward.  They got destroyed by the Pats, but that team won the Super Bowl.  At least we could tell ourselves that we would do the same the following season.  In today’s NFL you have a short window to win it all or get close before money, injuries, and players no longer “buying in” make that impossibility.
The amazing thing about Anthony Lynn that has still not been explained is how he went for 2 in KC in the game that seemed to signal a new era, but never showed those balls again,.
People laugh at Boltheads for holding on to that win, but it really felt like we weren’t going to be the Same Old Chargers that night.  Yet, we regressed to something even worse.  Everyone is aware of the one score losses and the late game implosions of the last two years.  I would argue they are even worse than what we saw under McCoy.  So Brandon Staley appears to have won over both the Spanoses and the players so far.  He appears to be stressing that he won’t stubbornly try to shoehorn his players into plays and situations that don’t benefit the team.  That included not playing guys during the newly-shortened exhibition season.  That final game in Seattle was by all accounts unwatchable, which is why I didn’t bother.  The only real drama was who was going win the kicking battle.  As was the case with Lynn, Badgley is a metaphor for all that we’ve suffered through with this team.  I wish the new guy hadn’t sputtered near the finish line, but we’re going to have to trust Staley’s judgement.  I know he missed a few in practice right after Badgley hit a 50-yarder in the second exhibition game.  Then he booted a ball in Seattle that looked like had so much torque on it that it quickly veered outside the uprights.  It was like the ball hit a gulfstream wind or Lance Stephenson of the Pacers blew on it.  But the team clearly wasn’t having another season of the Money Bungler.  No kicker is perfect, but the Chargers just need someone decent.
So the Bolts open in DC with more unknowns that I can ever remember.  This was part of Staley’s plan as well, I assume.  He didn’t want to reveal too much before Week 1.  You can call it gamesmanship, but if it doesn’t work it just looks stupid.  I have no doubt that Ekeler felt some tightness in the hamstring he hurt last season in Tampa.  It’s not as if he was held out of two days (and limited today, thus receiving QUESTIONABLE status) purely as a diversion.  But I do think it’s another sign that Staley is trying to do things differently than they’ve been done recently with the Chargers.  As I heard on one of the Charger beat guys podcasts, we’re all excited about different right now.

That won’t necessarily result in more wins or a championship.  But at least this team seems committed to not beating themselves every week.  I know it’s not much of a winning slogan or mantra, but it’s still better than the fucking Raiders.

If the kicker, or any of the unknown pieces falters time and time again, I don’t think they’ll get a huge leash like they would in the past.  People forget that about Koo.  There was a real panic that he wasn’t ready and that we’d had a Gob Bluth-like mistake.  From the moment it became clear that Herbert was way better than anyone expected, the team seems committed to building a team around him.  They fired Lynn, even after Herbert basically won the last 4 games.  Then they went and got a coach that seemingly will maximize Herbert’s gifts.  Everyone, myself included, thought Daboll was a lock and that the Chargers were once again fucking themselves over.

In the words, of R.A. The Rugged Man,
Hold up, let’s slow it down with these raps.
This could all be a mirage.  The Chargers could show up Sunday and do all the same stupid things they always do or they could even find new Ways to torture us. That’s what Sunday is all about. No one gets more stuck in the past than me with this team. But I am going to have to keep trying to just accept and Hope. It does no good to predict the future with them because even when they fail exactly as we predict it doesn’t frustrate any less. Of course, I’ll be in attendance this week. I am sure there will be plenty of Charger fans, but we’ll all experience it in our own way. Embrace the uncertainty and don’t fall into the same traps. You’ve gotta just let it happen, good or bad. Crazy, I know.
This Is The Season Of What Now
I know I haven’t told you anything you didn’t already know and didn’t give you any insight for Sunday’s game.  But I’ve always said that my only value in writing about the Chargers was the ability to remember, observe, and comment.  So far, there is nothing to react to.  It’s a new season.
Check out that link, by the way.  It should get you fired up for Sunday.  When I latched onto the tagline “Justice Is Coming” back in 1994, it was all about deciding that we were going finally change the same tired story with this team.  Fuck, it almost worked.  We were one game short.  Right now, we have to hope that maybe it’s finally comin’–a brand new day.
If anyone needs me, I’ll be in Section 131.  It’s one of the end zones, supposedly among the faithful.  Talk next week.
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