Monday, January 15, 2007

Fine, I'll bite

I could probably spend an entire post ripping apart John Clayton's shameful journalistic fellating of Bill Belicheck, as Justin suggested someone do, but I'm tired of picking on low-hanging fruit. I am resigned to the fact that save for a few specific and professional sources, my days of reading sports commentary for the purposes of edification are over.

But I believe one loyal, if not anonymous, reader has called me out. And I'll take the bait.

Marty should, without question, be fired. Perhaps the cries for his job shouldn't be as loud as they are for Andy Reid -- a man who displayed an unfathomable level of cowardice with that fourth-quarter punt against the Saints -- but they should be loud nonetheless, and responded to. I suspect they will, as well, since it is little secret that A.J. Smith is not fond of Marty in the slightest.

All that said, I'm willing to concede that the loss to the Patriots was not Marty's "fault" by any traditional definition of the term. Yes, the Bolts' gameplan was a little less imaginative/aggressive against the Pats then it was during the regular season, but I also think it would have been folly to try and get too cute against a team like New England. There was no need, really. The Chargers were clearly the better team, by just about any measure. It was an appropriate gameplan the Chargers' coaching staff designed, one based on S.D.'s need and ability to dictate the terms of the game. One does not dictate matters with halfback options and flea flickers; one does it with a strong running game on the back of the league's best individual player and its most underappreciated offensive line (Your 2007 R.O.Y. should be LT Marcus McNeill, who [I am almost sure] did not allow a sack this season). And, were it not for the four turnovers and one incredibly dumb personal foul, the Bolts would have won. While there's something to be said for institutional discipline starting at the top, I won't hang Marty with the Chargers' mistakes Sunday. Not that it's relevant.

What is relevant is that, until this season, Marty was killing San Diego with his particular version of taking the air out of the football. And, when he finally decided to get with the program that most high school coaches have been on since the early 90s, people lauded him for "opening it up." Puh-fucking-leese. It will be a cold day in hell before I congratulate someone for finally becoming competent at his job, and that's all Marty did this season. He got handed a ridiculously talented team, and let them play the kind of innovative offense that most other teams have been running for a decade or so now. More than half the coaches -- maybe even two-thirds -- would have done as well with the Bolts this year. To consider Marty the difference between this team being 13-3 and 8-8 is absurd.

But here's the biggest, and best, reason why Marty should be fired: Because one of the two men chiefly responsible for the success of this team hates his fucking guts. The other one is dead, but I'm sure that John Butler would be no more fond of what Marty has accomplished -- or hasn't -- had he laid off the cancer sticks. If A.J. Smith has proven anything during his tenure as the Chargers' G.M., it's that he's a keen evaluator of talent. Has a single one of this team's high draft picks not panned out? Has there been a single free agent letdown? This team is the most talented in the NFL, bar none, because Smith knows what he's talking about when he's talking about football. So why would anyone not believe that Smith is dead-on when he says that Marty's the wrong guy for this team?

I realize that good NFL coaches don't grow on trees, but I'm not dense enough to think there isn't a better man available on someone's staff -- maybe even San Diego's -- for this job. And, I would bet the farm that whomever Smith selects will be an upgrade.

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