I sat in my seat at Qualcomm Stadium yesterday and I couldn’t help but notice a lot of fans that were less than impressed with what was happening on the field. The boos could be heard all over the stadium, fans yelling their distaste with the performance on the field were all around me – now I need to point out that there were a lot of Dolphins fans in the stadium yesterday so I am sure this accounted for the some of the upset spectators, but not all.
If we honestly take a look at the Chargers performance thus far this year, the team may not be performing at the level many Charger fans had anticipated for this season, but there are many players out there on the field that were not supposed to be starters this year either.
Injuries have been the main storyline of the 2009 Chargers season thus far. Jamal Williams is on the injured reserve list and Nick Hardwick is out for at least eight weeks. Those two players alone have a lot to say about how both the Chargers offensive and defensive lines are going to perform. Plug in two players, primarily Scott Mruczkowski and Ogemdi Nwagbou. Mruczkowski was a member of the Chargers practice squad last year and was supposed to be a backup on the offensive line this year – but now he’s a starter. Nwagbou was working at Ikea last year and worked very hard just to make the team, now he’s trying to fill Jamal’s shoes, that’s a tall order.
Shawne Merriman is still trying to work his way back to the exceptional level of play that every Charger fan loved watching before he tore two ligaments in his left knee in 2007. To add insult to injury, Merriman now has a groin injury that he is also nursing. Larry English, the Chargers first round draft pick this year is having to play more minutes than was anticipated during training camp to make up for the fact Merriman is just not ready.
Future Hall of Fame running back Ladainian Tomlinson sprained his ankle in week one and is still on the mend. Darren Sproles has had to go from a change of pace back to carrying the primary load in the running game while still fielding kickoffs and punts for the Chargers.
Louis Vasquez won the starting offensive guard position during this years training camp but he went down during the game in Oakland on September 14th with a knee injury and has not even been able to practice since. Brandon Dombrowski has been asked to step in and take over for Vasquez.
The chargers brought in Travis Johnson from Houston to help out on the offensive line but he hurt his groin in week one and has not been able to get back to field.
Antwan Applewhite and Mike Scifres are both nursing sore groins, Kevin Burnett banged up his knee, Stephen Cooper had a minor ankle sprain and if all of this wasn’t enough – the flu bug came to San Diego last week and Kris Deilman, Kevin Ellison, Marcus McNeill, Brandon Siler and Eric Weddle were all feeling the effects.
Football is a violent game and injuries are going to happen to every team at some point in the season. But the amount of injuries that the Chargers have had to deal with this season is nothing short of ridiculous.
The bottom line is the Chargers are 2-1, which is very respectable considering the obstacles that they have had to overcome already this season. With the exceptions of Williams and Hardwick, the other players will all either be back for this weekend’s game against the Steelers or at the very latest after the bye week against the Broncos. Young players are getting very valuable time out on the field and this will only make them better backups as the season goes on.
So the season may not be shaping up just like it was scripted, and that’s disappointing for the fans, but that’s the way life goes sometimes. All you can do is play the cards you are dealt, and the Chargers have had a few bad hands in a row but the season is young, players will heal up, and in the end the Chargers will be a stronger team for all of the adversity that they have had to overcome.