|Smith and Rivers don't think folks respect their squad these days. (US Presswire)|
The last two years haven't been good for the Chargers or the duo A.J. Smith and Norv Turner. After missing the playoffs for the last two seasons, the Bolts have emerged as the AFC's version of the Cowboys, a talent-laden team who can't get it done.
In fact, the recent troubles prompted Smith to tell SI.com's Peter King that the Chargers "have lost our respect ... and credibility" around the NFL.
"We have lost our respect in the league and our credibility in the league,'' Smith said. "We were an elite team. You miss one year in the playoffs? OK. You miss two? You deserve everything that's being said about you.''
It's crazy to hear anyone say that, even the GM of a team that's had so much success during his tenure. But he's right. The Chargers are considered that team you can't trust, a team that should compete in the AFC West but might not be able to get out of their own way while trying to do so.
Interestingly enough, the players apparently agree with Smith on that. Nick Hardwick told King "Amen" when told about Smith's quote, Antonio Gates said "it's the truth" and Philip Rivers pointed out that the team's got a bit of a chip on their shoulder as a result.
"That's the mentality we have right now," Rivers said. "Not being in the playoffs the last two years, we've developed that feeling, and our feeling right now is we've had enough. We have a little edge about us now. But, you know, you've just got to go out and do it."
Look, it's hard to argue with them. The preseason story in the AFC West over close to the past decade was "How many games will the Chargers win the division by." Lately though, it's been "How can the Chargers screw this up?"
And the past two seasons, the Chargers found a way to screw it up. This year, they've got a Chiefs team bouncing back from injuries (almost by default), a Raiders team turning things over and a Broncos team that signed a little guy named Peyton Manning. The AFC West is wide open.
If the Chargers players are playing with a chip on their shoulder and embracing the role of underdog, it's probably a good thing.
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