Shocking end to MartyParty
Published: Monday, January 10, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 10, 2005 at 1:14 a.m.
SAN DIEGO - Coach of the Year Marty Schottenheimer still has quite a bit of work to do, with his team and his own behavior.
The San Diego Chargers' surprise turnaround season melted down Saturday night in the kind of shocking fashion that fit right in with Schottenheimer's many other playoff failures.
If an ill-timed return to conservative MartyBall in a 20-17 overtime loss to the New York Jets in a wild-card game wasn't bad enough, Schottenheimer ran several yards onto the field to complain that no flag was thrown when punter Mike Scifres took a dive in the second quarter.
A flag was thrown, all right - on the 61-year-old Schottenheimer. The 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct helped the Jets drive for the tying touchdown and left the disciplinarian coach to explain how he could be so undisciplined.
"I absolutely blew a fuse," Schottenheimer said. "It's absolutely unforgivable that I could do that."
That was just one of the night's stunning developments that turned one of the NFL's leading feel-good stories of the year to mush and ruined San Diego's first playoff game in nine seasons.
The MartyFall also included:
And just like that, Schottenheimer still can't win in the playoffs. He suffered his fifth straight postseason loss dating to 1993 with the Kansas City Chiefs and fell to 5-12 in his career, which also included a stop in Cleveland.
Schottenheimer's playoff teams have gone one-and-out eight times.
"I've been through this before; that's been well-documented," he said. "My disappointment, quite frankly, is for the players in that locker room and the community."
Yes, the Chargers did surprise everyone this season, probably even themselves, in coming back from their 4-12 debacle last season. But they spoke openly of going to the Super Bowl, and left themselves three victories short of that goal.
"It's tough because expectations were high coming into the playoffs," said Brees, who wasn't even wanted by the front office coming into training camp but finished winning Comeback Player of the Year.
"We finished AFC West champs and that was great. But that was not our main goal. That was a steppingstone to where we wanted to go. We were not just happy to be here. We were here for a reason. We had the potential to take it all the way."
Potential that they'll now have to use to try to get back to the playoffs next season.
"We made the playoffs and nobody expected us to," Tomlinson said. "It is definitely something to build on."
The immediate concern for the Chargers is what to do with Brees, since they have Philip Rivers sitting on the bench with a $40 million contract.
The most likely scenario is that the Chargers, who will have $21 million freed up under the salary cap, will put the franchise tag on Brees and give him a $9 million contract for next season. They can either let him compete with Rivers for the starting job, or trade him.
The Chargers also are working on a contract extension for Schottenheimer, who has one year to go on his original deal.
San Diego will have two first-round picks in April's draft, their own and the one they got from the New York Giants when they got Rivers for Eli Manning in a draft-day deal. San Diego also gets the Giants' fifth-round pick.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.
Comments are currently unavailable on this article