The San Diego Chargers have mystified followers over the past two seasons.
Nine wins in 2010, eight last year and nothing in the way of a postseason berth. The upshot: A talented roster with little to show for it. More troubling, these wasted years have unraveled during Philip Rivers' prime. He'll turn 31 this season.
"I think having been out of the postseason two years in a row there's a maybe even greater ... hunger to get back to playing in January," Rivers told reporters Thursday. "If there is such (a) thing as having more of a sense of urgency, then that certainly has been felt because of the outcome of the past two seasons."
There's not much else Rivers can say. The Chargers have been tagged as underachievers, and must drive deep into the playoffs to silence their critics.
General manager A.J. Smith issued a full-on confessional earlier this month, saying he'd "failed in every single attempt." Fair enough, but those who follow the team don't want to hear another word. They want to see Peyton Manning beaten twice, the Chiefs dispatched, and the Raiders scattered at home and away.
There's too much talent here to start over, but patience is thin. Smith's job security, as we learned this morning, might be on better footing than coach Norv Turner's, but change is ahead if the Chargers lay another egg.