Saturday, February 28, 2009

Chris Ello's blog...Saturday, Feb. 28th

I can hear all of you disgusted Chargers fans already...First day of NFL free-agency comes and goes, and the Bolts are on the sidelines.

"This organization sucks!!"

"They're never willing to spend any money!!"

"No way I'm re-newing my season tickets!!""

"They want us to give 'em money for a new stadium, but they don't want to give us a contending team.!!"

"Beers cost $10-dollars!!"

Did I leave any complaints out??....Well, I imagine you all had a few others...So go ahead and kick the dog, slam the garage door, swear up a blue streak. (Let's see if we can hold off on pounding the kids or wife, though, all right?)

Now....before we get to why all of you need to take a valium and just calm the bleep down...a quick recap of what took place on Friday in an economy that experts say is the worst anybody has seen it since the Great Depression.

NFL teams -- every one of them, it seems, except the Chargers -- spent a total of nearly
$300-million dollars on just a few free agents....The Washington Redskins dumped $154-million by themselves, with the bulk of it going to the bulky defense tackle Albert Haynesworth, formerly of the Tennesse Titans....The New York Jets layed out a bundle for former Ravens linebacker Bart Scott...The New England Patriots provided a safe haven for washed-up running back and former Jacksonville Jaguar Fred Taylor.

To wrankle the left-out Chargers even more....two of their division rivals also struck on Friday....The Denver Broncos went wild, picking up running backs J.J. Arrington and Correll Buckhalter, and were also rumored to be on the verge of grabbing former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins...Denver also grabbed wide receiver Jabar Gaffney away from New England and safety Renaldo Hill from Miami...even the bottom-of-the-barrel Chiefs made an addition, signing former Patriots Super Bowl-winning linebacker Mike Vrabel.

In lesser moves, running back Maurice Morris moved from Seattle to Detroit (good luck with that, Maurice)....quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick went from Cincinnati to Buffalo (huh?)...Jacksonville grabbed safety Sean Considine from Philadelphia....Center Jason Brown (heard of him?) is no longer a Raven, but now a Ram....and there a few others.

Surely all of these signings signal the end for the Chargers...With all of this talent moving to new teams while A.J. Smith twiddles his fingers, how in the world are the Bolts expected to compete?? I've given you your hissy-fit....But now....let's take a look at the reality of the situation.

First question: what do the Redskins, Jets, Patriots, Broncos, Chiefs, Jaguars, Bills, Lions and Rams -- all of whom picked up new players Friday -- have in common??

C'mon gang!.....Easy question....don't have it yet??....Let's put it another many playoff games did those nine team combine to play in last season??


Now, of course, maybe the Haynesworth turns around the fortunes of the 'Skins and they move past the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants to the top of the NFC East....but I say: Fat (Albert) Chance.
Is Jason Campbell still the Redskins QB?? I rest my case.

Bart Scott could transform the Jets, but if Brett Favre couldn't transform the Jets, what makes you think Bart Scott can??

The thing is that most big free agency signing are nothing more than something to talk about during the off-season....something for the newspapers to write about, and something for the football experts to rage on about.

"Haynesworth is the best defensive tackle in football," was heard more than just a few times Friday. "He'll make a big difference in Washington."

Maybe he will....but more likely he won't.

For one thing, football is all about proving yourself on the football field each and every your teammates, to your peers, to your fans, to those who chronicle the game....Most guys fight like they're trying to save their lifes everytime they suit up....But what's the motivation for a guy like Haynesworth, now??

He's got his $100-million dollar deal -- the richest ever for any player in history who's not a quarterback...What more does he have left to prove??....How many big-name Washington signings over the last half-decade have truly earned the gigantic salary deals they've received from the egotistical Daniel Snyder??

Answer: Big...Fat...Zero.

Here's another thing to consider before you toss your Chargers blow-up seat cushion into the garbage for good....Last season, of the 12 teams to make the postseason, how many had added big-name, significant free agent players prior to the season??

Answer: Big...Fat.....well, one (Michael Turner signed by Atlanta).

In most cases the teams who grabbed the big names wound up with slimmer checkbooks and fewer wins. (See: Favre, New York...the big-spending Cowboys....the Redskins, as usual....Julius Jones, Seattle).

The bottom line is that bad teams are the ones who constantly spin their wheels by throwing big dollars at players who very rarely live up to the contracts they sign....Reason #1: they become fat cats when they get the fat paychecks....Reason #2: they're being paid for what they accomplished in the past rather than what they're likely to accomplish in the future...Reason #3: football is a TEAM game, and it's entire units of offense and defense that come together to win championships, not single players.

That said, the Chargers do still have plenty of work to do before they conviene for training camp in July...There are some holes to fill and some areas to shore up.

But, in most cases, these improvements are rarely made with big-name free agent signings (ask the Broncos how cornerback Dre' Bly worked out for them)...(By the way, these improvements are also rarely made on draft day)....

Final message to you hissy-fit throwing Chargers fans:

Shut it!


  1. The fact that the Skins would go for Haynesworth is telling about the future for both....busts!

    AH never plays a whole season...whether he's tweaking a knee or using his boots to do a little rucking on an opposing lineman's head...he's always good for a few absences each season.

    Fans are fans: and fans are CRAZY! There are a lot of holes to fill and only so many ways to do it. Free Agency, the draft and most importantly teaching. There are teams (one of which shall remain unnamed) who do an excellent job with less because they have a staff that knows how to teach.

    Having said that I feel that Matt Wilhelm is beyond being taught how to tackle. Tackling is about commitment. Without a renewed commitment from "some" of our players on both sides of the ball all the free agent signings in the world will fail to get us where we want to go. Where is the Super Bowl next year? It would be nice to see one guy signed who brings with him some leadership skills, specifically: leading by example.

    A good dose of perspective for the lunatic fringe who choose not to examine the situation objectively.

    Keep on writing Gentlemen.

  2. The fact that there is someone (or a group of people) that invest actual energy into "hating" New England is pretty pathetic.

  3. Lighten up Francis.

    Disliking rivals is something that rounds out the experience of following sports. Sometimes, you have to do more than scratch the might find something more...hyperbole, satire, who knows what else?

  4. I'll turn up my hyperbole meter.

  5. For all of you hitting the panic button over the Chargers' free agency activity (or lack thereof), let's keep something in mind: Good teams are built through the draft, not free agency. The most astute evaluators are busy focusing their attention on the crop of fresh blood coming into The League at the end of April. This is where the Chargers' talent base comes from, and this is where it should come from. It's one of the areas where I agree wholeheartedly with AJ Smith, and where he and his staff have made their mark on this franchise. (Ironically AJ was the Director of Pro Personnel prior to succeeding John Butler, meaning he was in charge of keeping track of free agents and talent already in the league, yet his philosophy remains that of his predecessor--that the draft is the key to building a good team.)

    Just look at some of the most active teams in the free agent market over the past several years: Denver is typically one of the biggest players--particularly on defense--and they've become a disaster. Dan Snyder throws free agent money around like a drunken sailor and ends up looking dumber and dumber each time. Dallas loves the free agent market, but it hasn't done them a whole lot of good.

    Typically, with an exception or two (Chris' mention of Michael Turner being one, but then again, his was a somewhat different situation), the best players on the best teams are all home grown talent, i.e., they were drafted by the teams they play for. Free agency is good for filling in a gap here and there if you can find the right guy (Mike Goff is an example from the 2004 season), but it is not a good way to build a team. It's merely a stopgap measure until you can draft a better replacement.

    So gripe on Charger fan! But then do yourselves a favor and look at who the best players on this roster are, and look where they came from; you'll find that the answer is "the draft!"