Thursday, April 30, 2009

What Sayith Merriman??

Well....actually we all know what Shawne Merriman said. It went something like this: "I am thrilled that we drafted Larry English! The more the Merrier, man!"

The better question is: what is Merriman thinking these days? After all, the Chargers just used their first-round draft choice on his (presumed) replacement.

How would you feel if the boss introduced you to the guy who was going to come in and take your job? "Hey Bob...we know you're the best VP of Sales we've ever had...but this is Tony...and very soon we expect him to be the best VP of Sales we've ever had...have a nice day!"

Chances are you'd be pissed. Chances are you'd have every right to be.

I've got to believe that somewhere in the back (or more likely the front) of his mind, Merriman isn't exactly thrilled about the Bolts' draft-day developments. When you're the most disruptive defensive player in the entire NFL, and you've worked your tail off to come back from a
season-ending injury, you don't expect the team you play for to start planning for your demise.

But that's exactly what the Chargers have done. Though they've said repeatedly that the drafting of English is all about making what should be a scary pass rush even more's pretty obvious to me (and should be to you as well) that the writing is on the wall.

And the wall reads: Shawne Merriman is no longer part of the Chargers future after this season.

Maybe that's OK. After all, it's no guarantee that Merriman will return from his knee surgery as the dominant player he once was...and having English behind him will provide a nice insurance policy. Furthermore, we know that Merriman will be a free agent after the '09 season and chances are he will command millions of dollars (and them some) to re-sign in San Diego. With English in the fold, the Chargers won't be forced into over-paying to keep him.

However, in my mind, this is faulty logic. And here's why: stated or unstated, Merriman is basically now in the position to have to play for himself this season. Knowing that his days in San Diego are all but over, it will be imperative for him to put up big sack numbers (regardless of how many games the Bolts win, or how many tackles he makes, Merriman's free-agent bounty will directly be linked to his sack total and nothing else).

Is this the kind of player you want leading your defense?? Perhaps, the Chargers feel that a
20-sack season from Merriman will help them get where they want to go. But in my mind, it's a guy who's focused on the success of the entire defensive unit -- and not his stats alone -- that would be far more valuable.

Either way, let's give credit to Merriman for his initial public comments. He said the PC thing by welcoming English into the fold. Imagine if Merriman had the frail self-confidence of former Denver QB Jay Cutler. The draft selection of an additional pass-rushing linebacker would have created a Broncos-sized circus.

The way it is now, Merriman will have to share the center ring with an up-and-coming talent nipping at his heels. And he'll have to deal with a ring-leader (A.J. Smith) who seems anxious to drive home the message that his star (and future Hall of Fame?) linebacker will not be welcome in these here parts much longer.

And while it's true that there aren't many guys out there as tough as Shawne Merriman, I think he'll have a tough time handling it.

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