Marty Schottenheimer is an optimist by nature, a man who largely has relied on the power of positive thinking in winning 200 regular-season games over 21 seasons. So it's not surprising that, as miserably as the team he coached to a 14-2 record in 2006 has looked thus far under his successor Norv Turner, Schottenheimer isn't giving up on the San Diego Chargers in 2007.
"I really think that they'll be OK," Schottenheimer said Tuesday from his home in Charlotte, N.C. "It's a good football team, and they've only played three games. The margin between winning and losing is so small; that's what makes the NFL so great. It's a long season, and I really do think they'll get it together."
I think Marty was holding laughter inside as he said this, mindful that the man who fired him, general manager A.J. Smith, is getting his comeuppance on a weekly basis. But if Schottenheimer truly is sincere in this belief, then like fictional San Diego newscaster Ron Burgundy, I must humbly suggest that we agree to disagree.
Right now, they're atrocious.
After watching the Chargers lose to the Packers I was prepared to drop them all the way to the bottom of this week's rankings – until I caught wind of the Saints on Monday night. Then we learned about Deuce McAllister's torn ACL in his good knee, and football in New Orleans officially become dismal.
"It's tough," said McAllister, who fought back so valiantly after suffering the same injury less than two years ago. "That's the most disappointing part of it, to know how hard it was to get back and that you have to go through it again."
The Saints get a bye this week and, unless something drastic happens, a bye-bye for the rest of '07.
1. New England Patriots: They seem angry, don't they?
2. Indianapolis Colts: Has anyone stopped to notice that the AFC South is no joke?
4. Pittsburgh Steelers: What's not to like?
5. Tennessee Titans: I'll bet you didn't think they knew how to rock and roll, did you?
7. Chicago Bears: Yo, Lovie, what took you so long?
8. Denver Broncos: Doesn't this seem like a typical Denver team – just good enough to get smoked in the playoffs?
10. Houston Texans: Can we now admit they're legit?
12. Jacksonville Jaguars: How can a team with two ultra-exciting halfbacks be so damned boring?
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jon Gruden, why did I ever doubt you?
14. Cincinnati Bengals: Is there any way you can play some defense TODAY?
17. San Francisco 49ers: Guys, feeling a bit exposed after that trip to Steeltown?
20. Philadelphia Eagles: Hey haters – is Donovan's foot making you feel sore back there?
22. Minnesota Vikings: Why even bother trying to run against this team?
24. Oakland Raiders: How huge was that blocked field goal, and when did this team get some heart?
27. Buffalo Bills: Can Cal and Stanford coexist in the same backfield, and will anybody notice?
31. San Diego Chargers: Hey LaDainian Tomlinson: If you and Philip Rivers were merely having a "competitive conversation" on the sidelines Sunday, is that what my wife and I were doing when I called her from a Las Vegas club late last night?
32. New Orleans Saints: Yo, Reggie, how about we just prescribe you some pain meds for the next three months?