So the 2011 season for the San Diego Chargers has not fared well so far but I am a true fan and therefore have no choice but to have faith that things will turnaround. I put money on Philip Rivers to win the MVP this year (money well lost) and I’m sure many others wouldn’t have been surprised of this outcome before the season started. He still has the ability to be a top 5 quarterback in the NFL and I am sure that he can turn it around, whether it be this season or not. Although, I am a little worried about his clutch factor. There have been many games this season and last season in which he had the ball in his hands for the winning drive but came up short…but the guy has heart and I can’t bet against that. As a Chargers fan, I believe that this team will work its way out of this hole…I’m just hoping that they start digging themselves out this season. This though, is not what I am here to write about. It is no secret that I am not a huge fan of Norv Turner but today my beef lies with A.J. Smith and the Spanos family.
What exactly is a football team, or a sports team in general? It is a product, simple as that. You have an owner and management that strive to put out the best product possible in order to create the most profit. This is just like any other regular company, whether it be Coca-Cola, McDonald’s or a small business down the street. I work in social media marketing and therefore I do a lot of interacting with consumers and fans, and the end goal is to create conversation with your target audience and keep them happy. If your target consumers are not happy, well then good luck selling your product or service. Fair warning to Dean Spanos…your target consumers are not happy!
In 2006, we had a 14-2 team that couldn’t win a playoff game but sure as hell were going to get there. We then got rid of Marty Schottenheimer because he had a terrible playoff history (wasn’t a huge fan of the move but understood the decision). We then brought in Norv Turner (who had a terrible coaching history in general), and yes we have won a few playoff games but we are no better off than we were in 2006. Actually we are worse off. We allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to win the division last year (and did not make the playoffs) and this year we are on a 5-game losing streak. Like I said, I’m not here to bash on Norv Turner because I have already done that.
The city of San Diego has been fighting to find a way to keep the Chargers here in San Diego while all these rumors swirl of them leaving to go off to Los Angeles. I can’t say whether our fans are fair weathered or not but I can tell you that it is extremely difficult being a fan of a team that is consistently inconsistent. We have plenty of injuries this season, and I understand that, but remember that they were saying the same thing about the Green Bay Packers last season. My issue is that home games are always very close to being blacked out, or are blacked out, but there is nothing being done to increase the quality of this team…of this product. Besides the players that we resigned this offseason, our biggest acquisitions were Takeo Spikes and Bob Sanders. Both beastly at their position but not really something that could take this team over the top. I was hypnotized by these pick ups at first and was sure that our defense was going to be rock solid, as many others thought also. I lost perspective of how Sanders had been highly injury prone and how Spikes is up there in age and how he has never made the playoffs. To be honest, what has been our biggest acquisition in the past 4-5 years? I can’t even think of one. Don’t get me wrong, we have some very solid players but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be looking for more.
A few weeks ago there was a lot of discussion on Twitter about how the Chargers should have tried trading for Asante Samuel. Oh yeah, I guess our management didn’t notice how shoddy our secondary was and how Cason and Gilchrist were getting torched. On top of that non-existent free agency activity, A.J. Smith has definitely lost his magical touch when it comes to drafting. Why was Steve Jobs revered? Why is Apple one of the greatest brands out there? They are all about innovation and staying on top of their field. In football this happens by drafting the right players and signing those that can make a huge impact. Things that the Chargers have lost sight of.
So now the Chargers are sitting at 4-6, two games behind the Oakland Raiders, one game behind the Tebow led Broncos, and struggling to sell tickets to their home games. All of this while us fans sit here wondering whether or not we will still have a team in the future. It is just good business to put out a product that people want and trust me, we want it. It doesn’t matter where the Chargers go, after a few years people are going to stop caring for a team that doesn’t live up the hype…a team that doesn’t make the changes needed to stay on top of its field. It is time that the Chargers owners and management take a real good look at what their target consumers want. It is time for them to do the research and develop a team that we can rally around and have faith in. It is time for them to stop being average and quit underachieving season after season. It is time for them to invest in a team that can live up to and go beyond expectations. It is time for them to give us iPods and stop trying to sell us Zunes.