Posts Tagged ‘ladainian tomlinson’

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LT & Me- A Football Story And So Much More

September 12, 2009

lt and meI’ll admit that I’m hardly a book critic, but I do love an entertaining story. My favorite authors range from Bill Bennet to C.S. Lewis, from Scott Adams to King David.

In the world of sports I have read some interesting books, but they typically don’t qualify as more than average at best in my opinion. So when I began reading LT & Me, a book by LaDainian Tomlinson’s mom Loreane Tomlinson, I did not have very high expectations. But I’m happy to say that this book was a great read and exceeded every expectation that I had. You might be asking yourself, “Why do I want to read a book by LT’s mom?” Honestly, I asked myself the same thing. But I gave the book a chance, and I’m very glad that I did.

After reading LT & Me, two things come to mind. First, this is a great story which focuses on the life of LT, from birth through the end of the 2007 playoffs. I truly enjoyed reading stories about LT’s upbringing, and especially his growth in football- that alone would be enough for any football fan, and most importantly any Chargers fan. It was very interesting to read about his difficulty in securing a spot as a running back, a position he seems to have been born to play. But beyond football, this book is about more than sports. It’s about a real family who had real problems and struggles and worries. This book is about the power of faith and hope, and of a mother who would not compromise her beliefs while raising her three kids. LT & Me is a book about football, and everything that is more important than football- family, faith, and convictions.

LT is the MVP on the football field, but Loreane’s life-lessons, taught through the stories of a struggling single mom, should be an inspiration to all. With strong values and a big heart (qualities that are also visible in her son), LT & Me is a story that shows you what really matters in raising a champion. This book should be passed on to any family with kids who have dreams (I think every kid out there would fit that description).

I highly recommend that you buy, check-out, or borrow LT & Me. If you have read it yourself, please take a moment to leave your comment about the book as well.

 Jeff Williams is a featured columnist on such sites as BoltHype.com, MVN.com, and the Sports Cartel Blog Network.

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Who’s Done? LT Is Back!

March 13, 2009

The Chargers and LaDainian Tomlinson announced his restructured contract, and it was as if there was never any doubt in anyone’s mind:  LT will remain a Charger, and all seems right in the world once again for Bolts fans.

That all sounds good- I mean, I was at the front of the “Keep LT” bandwagon.  But funny, this isn’t exactly what I expected.  Under the terms of the new deal, LT’s contract remains basically unchanged for the 2009 season, aside from some new bonus money that will lower his cap-number.  That’s alright for the face of the franchise, but surprising for a 30-year old RB who ended the last two seasons with injuries.

If the Chargers are happy with it, who am I to complain?  All I know is that I expected a slightly deeper salary cut and a more performance-based contract.  And with the potential savings, I was expecting to see some money thrown at a free-agent safety or D-lineman. 

Just call me an arm-chair GM.

Again, given the alternatives, keeping LT was the right move.  That’s not blind optimism or fan loyalty, that’s a fact- there wasn’t a better RB to replace him with unless you burn a high draft-pick on one.  With the holes we have to fill, you have to admit that keeping LT seems like a pretty good option. 

The fan in me is pretty happy.  LT belongs in the blue-and-gold, and if the Chargers can get their act together and win a championship, LT deserves to be a part of it.  Just get him some blocking and look out!

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Breaking Down The Chargers- Part 2: RB’s

February 27, 2009

tomlinsonIn part-two of our ongoing series focusing on the Chargers strengths and weaknesses we take a closer look at the running back position.  I was hoping to have some finality to the LT contract renegotiations before writing this column, but as of today (2/27) we still don’t know exactly how it’s all going to pan-out.  All we can do is speculate as to how it will end up, and that’s anyone’s guess at this point.

 

Those who have followed my columns over the years know how highly I regard LaDainian Tomlinson.  He is a genuine guy, a player with a lot of passion for the game and a lot of heart.  As running backs go, he will forever be listed among the best ever.  Unfortunately, last season was probably the worst of LT’s renowned career since his rookie season in 2001.  His 1110 yards rushing was his lowest ever, and his 11 rushing TD’s was a large drop from previous years.  Now that single below average (for LT), injury-riddled season has led to some doubt that LT will return to the Chargers for the 2009 season. 

 

There are basically two schools of thought regarding LT at this point in his career.  The first sees LT as an aging, overused running back whose career is on the decline and will never recover.  A knee injury in the 2008 playoffs, as well as multiple injuries in the 2008 season point towards the beginning of the end for LT’s career.  Knee, toe, and groin injuries are not exactly the building blocks for future successful seasons as a running back, so for all intents his career is over.

 

The second school of thought believes that LT is still one of the best-conditioned athletes in the NFL, and that the injuries he has sustained are mere flukes and not a signal for future injury.  The more significant worry is improving the offensive line that regressed dramatically last year.  We’ll dig into the O-line in future columns, but basically two injured Pro-Bowl lineman with two sub-par linemen on the right side gave LT little chance to find a hole to run through.

 

As you decide which school of thought you subscribe to, I can’t let you forget about Darren Sproles, who’s sprolesfranchise tag insures that the Chargers can at least control his destiny for the upcoming season.  This fan favorite opened a lot of eyes in the playoff win against Indianapolis.  He’s a great change-up and a deadly weapon for any offensive coordinator.  I’ll admit that the franchise tag surprised me, but I believe that in the long run it was really just a negotiating tactic for the Chargers.  Expect the Chargers to figure out a way to sign him to a multi-year deal or trade him.  I just can’t see them paying Sproles franchise-tag money for one season, especially for a guy whom the Chargers know can’t be our 1st string running back.

 

That brings us back to LT.  The uncertainty surrounding the future Hall Of Famer has a lot of fans divided.  Whether you believe he’s past his prime or not, I simply ask: Are we better off with or without LT next season?  I have to believe that we are better off with LT.  On a team with some important holes to fill, I don’t want to use a 1st round pick on LT’s replacement, and I don’t believe that Sproles can carry the team on his diminutive shoulders.

 

That means you have to keep LT.  You have to find a way to make it work.  I’m all for renegotiating his contract since he’s willing to discuss it but you can’t let the guy walk.  We have too many other positions to worry about to try to replace a guy who still had over 1000-yards rushing while playing 15½  games with an injury.

 

In this discussion of Chargers running backs you can’t forget Michael Bennett, Jacob Hester, and Mike Tolbert.  Bennett is a solid veteran backup who received surprisingly little work last season.  He should be in the Chargers plans for 2009, and I’m hoping with a full training camp he will be given a little playing time in the regular season.  Hester, as good of a guy as he is, was a waste of a 2009 2nd round draft pick.  Most everyone believes that AJ picked him too early in 2008 (3rd round) and gave up too much to get him (see that 2009 2nd round pick).  That being said, he’s a gamer who could turn into a Mike Alstott type of player.  He lacks some of the raw athleticism of some of his peers, but he is the type of player who plays tough and can continue to improve with enough playing time.  Expect him to start at fullback for the Chargers, with Tolbert filling the backup fullback role unless the Chargers find another guy they just can’t pass up.

 

We’re getting close to a final decision on LT, one way or the other, so give us your prediction ASAP.

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Interview With The Oracle, Offseason Edition

January 26, 2009

The Oracle is back!  Eddie Pappani from the Chargers’ Countdown To Kickoff pregame show on Rock 105.3 is ready to talk Chargers football, and I’m curious to get his thoughts about the Chargers’ season and his feelings about the LT issue.
 
Jeff:  Eddie, I had such high-hope for the Chargers this year and I’m pretty bummed about the way things went down this season.  Still, they did make it two-games deep into the playoffs.  How do you view the Chargers’ season as a whole?… View the entire interview on Chargers Confidential at MVN.com.

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Chargers and LT

January 17, 2009

  LT.jpgHere it is almost a week since the Chargers’ playoff loss to the Steelers, and I freely admit that it was a tough, tough loss to get over, but I’m finally coming out of my offseason funk.  That offseason funk could be expanded or eliminated based on the Chargers’ offseason moves.  While I plan to break down the Chargers roster and potential offseason moves in the future, no decision weighs heavier on the minds of San Diegans than the future of LaDainian Tomlinson. 

It’s strange even thinking about a Chargers team without #21 on the roster, but there are a number of signs pointing toward that possibility…  View the entire article at Chargers Confidential at MVN.com.  (Be sure to refresh your browser to see the most current column)

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Preview: San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers

November 14, 2008

chargers-steelers

Last year, the Chargers had to lose 5-games before pulling their collective heads out of their rears and winning the rest of their games to win the division.  This year, they won their first game coming after their 5th loss.  Can they turn on the magic again to steam-roll through the rest of their schedule?

If you ask me, the answer is “Probably not.”  At least not after that way-to-tough game against the Kansas City Chiefs last week.  Against a team who is contending for the number-1 pick in next year’s draft, the Chargers looked way-to-average.  The Chief’s effectively eliminated the Chargers pass-rush, while the Chargers’ defense never seemed to make an adjustment.  It took a blown PAT to even give the Chargers a chance to win the game.

Against the leagues’ worst team against the run, the Chargers could gain only 92 yards rushing.  You can blame the coach, you can blame the offensive line, but either way it doesn’t give me a lot of confidence this week against a superior defense that happens to be ranked number-1 in the league.

The only thing that the Chargers have going for them is that they seem to play up or down to their competition.  Their two best games this season came against the top two teams in the AFC East (the Jets and Pats- sorry Sandie).  This Sunday’s game against the Steelers will be a fierce competition, and the Chargers know they have to play their best ball to win in Pittsburgh.  One interesting note:  the Steelers are only 2-2 at home this season.  Perhaps this is the game where the Chargers turn their sucky road-record (1-4) around.

Chargers on offense:  The Chargers have the NFL’s leading rusher for the last two years, a guy named ltLaDainian Tomlinson.  Maybe someone can introduce him to his offensive lineman, because they seem to have forgotten that they need to block someone to make him successful.  Many of this season’s woes can be blamed on the Chargers totally inconsistent running game.  In the last 2-games LT looked good when he had some space.  For the last 9-games, the Chargers run-blocking has been attrocious, providing LT with very little space.  When he consistently gets hit at or behind the line of scrimmage, it’s a not because of LT’s “diminishing skills,” it’s because his linemen suck.  If ever there was a game to attempt to get control of the line scrimmage once again and jam the ball down your opponents throat, this is the game.  Yes, I know, easier said than done.

Chargers on defense:  The Steelers offense has had a tough year.  They lost WIllie Parker for multiple games, Ben Rothlisburger has been playing through a bum shoulder… They just aren’t the offensive joe-montanapowerhouse that they were a year ago.  But given the Chargers’ knack for turning average QB’s (Tyler Thigpen, Chad Pennington) into Joe Montana, I guess anything can happen.  To protect Big Ben, expect more of what we’ve seen over the last 7 games:  short, quick passes to eliminate even the threat of a pass rush.  Hey, maybe the Bolts can stop giving their opponents a free 7-12 yards on every pass?

Prediction:  The Chargers have yet to do anything to make me think they will step up to stop the Steelers.  I do think they are good enough to do it, but you have to be more than good to win in this league.  You have to be mentally tough and determined, two traits in which the Bolts are lacking.  Steelers 26, Chargers 24

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The Passing of the Mantel

September 18, 2008

If there is one thing to be excited about this year, it’s the performance of the Chargers offense.  After a slow start in the first half in week one, the Chargers offense came on in a hurry and almost stole a game from the Carolina Panthers.  In fact, the offensive output of the Chargers has only magnified the ineptitude of the Chargers defense.  They scored 31 points on offense last week and still lost?  Come on.

What is most encouraging about the Chargers offensive performance is the great play of QB Philip Rivers.  Is it possible that the offense no longer runs through LT (even when healthy) first?  I say yes, it’s possible, and it’s already happening.

Rivers has more than proven his skills behind center.  With LT constantly running against an 8-man (or more) defensive front, it always seemed that the passing game should be wide open.  Yet, Sunday against the Broncos, with LT playing sparingly due to a bad toe causing the opposing defense to play off the line, Rivers was still able to pick apart a secondary with stud CB’s Dre Bly and Champ Bailey for 377 yards and 3 TD’s, with only one (phantom) interception. 

I am not suggesting that LT is done.  I have complete confidence that once he recovers from his injury, he’ll be closer to the LT of old than not.  I’m just saying that LT doesn’t have to be the man anymore.  And that’s a good thing for the Chargers.  As Rivers continues to get better, it is likely that it will be the passing game that soon opens things up for LT. 

On a related note, there was a national article published a couple of days ago suggesting the high probability that LT is done.  I found it an interesting read, as it in part supported this post, a concept I’ve been working on since Sunday’s performance by Rivers.  But contrary to that article (that I don’t want to link to due to my disrepect of the author), I don’t think LT is done.  It’s easy to look at the stats of comparable running backs and begin to think that the end is near for the league’s rushing leader the last two years.  But what the stats don’t show is the punishment each player sustained throughout his career.  Look at RB’s like Priest Holmes, Larry Johnson, and Shaun Alexander.  All top running backs at one time, and all who took massive hits at one time in their career causing severe damage to their bodies.  Look at SDSU alum Marshall Faulk, who played most of his career on turf.  That’s constant punishment whether you get hit or not.  LT has yet to receive that significant hit, has yet to suffer through that serious ligament tear, a concussion, or a broken bone.  LT is getting older, and he obviously can’t play forever, but he still has a few good years in him.  He’ll be fine.

Click here for my previous post, Tuesday Morning QB.