Archive for Antonio Gates

The Time Has Passed Ya By

Posted in NFL, San Diego Chargers, Sports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on January 28, 2010 by Travis Green

Shawn Merriman

The San Diego Chargers at one time held the leagues best running back, which led to one of the leagues best offenses. But has the time come and gone?

In 2006 the Chargers finished with a 14-2 much improved from a 9-7 record in 2005. All the drafts were finally beginning to pay off and it looked like all the predictions for the Chargers to be the break out team were coming true.

The team led the NFL in points, was in the top half of the league in passing yards with a QB who was pretty much a rookie in Phillip Rivers, and was 2nd in the league in rushing trailing only the Michael Vick led Falcons.

In 2006 the stats and awards were limitless. The team had 11 players elected for the Pro-Bowl. This list included MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, who had a record shedding season, which included scoring 14 TD in a 4 game span and 16 TD’s in a 5 game span, and once again 19 in a span of 6 games. LT also set franchise records including scoring 4 TD’s in 3 games as well as scoring 3 TD’s in 3 straight games.

The 2006 season brought much joy to fans of Tomlinson and the Chargers, but then it happened. Coach Marty Schottenheimer struck again, as his team locked up the first round bye and now awaited an opponent. And that opponent happen to be the New England Patriots, a team who had won their division and were on a mission for a 4th Superbowl Championship of the decade.

The defeat went down in heart breaking fashion as Nate Kaeding missed a last second field goal, leading the way to Marty Schottenheimers firing. This was the second time in two years the had posted at least 12 wins in the regular season and failed to win a playoff game, so Marty took the fall.

After a hectic offseason filled with departing coordinators, fired head coaches, and suspended players (Shawne Merriman – Steroids) the headed into the new season with a QB of the future, a RB in his prime, a rising WR core and what was percieved to be the coach that would get them to the next level in place the Chargers were ready to make the run.

The Chargers didn’t start Coach Norv Turner’s term off the way many expected them to, losing 3 of their first 4 games, but immediately turning it around. They won 6 in a row and eventually ended the season with an 11-5 record, including a top ranked offense.

The 2007 year was a balanced team having both a top 5 offense and defense. The defense had a fiery leader in 3 time Pro-Bowler Shawne Merriman.

The new Chargers had done something they failed to do even once under Coach Schottenheimer and that’s win a playoff game, as they defeated the Titans 17-6 in the Wild Card Round.

It didn’t stop there as they were on a mission, and not even Peyton Manning’s Colts could stop them as they were handed a 28-24 defeat in the divisional round, leaving only one team in their way the undefeated New England Patriots.

This is the game as a Chargers fan I will always remember and think what might have been, this was the beginning of the end for LT and the Chargers. Phillip Rivers played through a torn ACL and Tomlinson left the game in the 1st quarter never to set foot on the field again.

The sight of LT sitting on the sideline with his helmet on cover in a huge sideline jacket, nursing a bruised left knee. No team support sitting there with his hands crossed was Tomlinson clearly upset but showing no emotion for his battling team. The team eventually lost the game 21-12 in a game that could have gone the other way.

Following a run to the conference championship San Diego along with New England were the favorites in 2o08. 

But a surprising surgery by leading LB Shawne Merriman that put him out for the entire season the team wasn’t off to a good start. The struggles continued right on into the regular season, as nagging injuries slowed down the NFL’s best running back.

With the limping LT the Chargers limped to a 4-8 record before turning it on late and finishing the season with an 8-8 AFC West Division Championship. The Chargers have always had the flare for the dramatic and this season was nothing different, as they followed up with a HUGE upset win over Indianapolis on the road for the second year in a row.

The team stopped there as once again all-star running back LaDainian Tomlinson stood and watched from the sidelines, as his team battled through 4 quarters with the Pittsburg Steelers only to come up 11 points short.

2009 started the same way ’08 started ROUGH!

With a plan to give aging running back Tomlinson fewer reps to save him for the stretch the team got off to another horrendous start as they watch their rivals the Denver Broncos go out “guns a blazin'”

But after a poor start the Chargers quickly turned it around with 11 straight victories to end the season with a 13-3 record and a first round bye.

The team struggled on defense at times as Merriman seemed to have lost a step, the running game not near as effective, but still the team with another 12+ win season. The offense again finished in the top 5, but this time because of the fantastic play of QB Phillip Rivers.

So now with a fresh RB, a mature QB, and an excellent Wide Receiving core this team was ready to make that step.

Or not the Chargers once again choked it away in the divisional round to a Wild Card team in the New York Jets, as they got blitzed and hurried all day long. And with no running game to speak of and the kicking game failing them the Jets made relatively easy work of the Chargers, leaving fans to ask “What if?”

What if Nate Kaeding hits that field goal against the Pats in 2006?

What if LT never gets hurt?

What if Drew Brees stays as QB for the Chargers?

What if Marty was still at the helm?

What if Merriman had never gotten caught with the ‘roids and had never blown out his knee?

What if the Chargers would have won the Superbowl? All the questions are fun to talk about but all of those things did happen, and the Chargers wasted valuable years of NFL Pro Bowler’s such as Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, and Lorenzo Neal.

Every year the critics called it San Diego’s year and every year the Chargers found a way to prove them wrong. Team are always out to prove the media wrong but this time it just didn’t work in their favor.