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Counting on Another Season of Failure for the Chargers

Let me count the ways and whys the Chargers are zero for 1991:

1. There is no hurry-up to the offense. It simply does not have the capability of a quick-strike to pull out a close game at the end, and three of the four losses have been in close games. Glaciers cover ground more quickly.

2. The offensive game plans are designed not to lose rather than to win.

3. Quarterback John Friesz is being asked not to lose rather than to win.

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4. The coaching staff is frightened to ask too much of John Friesz. This is reasonable because he is going through the toughest sort of on-the-job training. They will give him a couple of years and then trade him away for a sixth-round draft choice and start the whole process again with maybe a 1992 or 1993 draft choice.

5. There are not enough Gill Byrds in the secondary. This man is a perfect example of smarts and experience rising above speed and youth. He’s not as quick as he used to be, only better.

6. Junior Seau should be a modern-day throwback to the old two-way player. Not really, but that “touchdown” run with an interception against Denver was as nifty as you will see. Too bad it was nullified by a teammate’s blunder.

7. Trading a first-round draft pick for the right to draft Eric Moten as the club’s third choice in the second round will give Bobby Beathard an embarrassing hand in future 0-4 starts. As poorly as this team is playing, it figures to be right at the top of the 1992 draft. A player of considerably more value than Mr. Moten is likely to be available where the Chargers otherwise would have drafted.

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8. Defensive coordinator Ron Lynn, the erstwhile genius, has not suddenly become stupid, but it appears that his players have. They cannot seem to remember where it is that they are supposed to be. This used to be a big-play defense and still is, except that the opposing offense is making them.

9. The pass receivers and the quarterback seem out of sync, as though they are reading different pages of the playbook. Too many passes seem to land where the quarterback thought a receiver should have been, but wasn’t.

10. When receivers, inadvertently or not, end up where a pass happens to land, they drop far too many. Maybe there should be a statistic borrowed from baseball. Errors.

11. Martin Bayless should study geometry. If he takes the proper angle, he catches Gaston Green last Sunday in Denver. Bayless is simply too slow to take the wrong angle, as he did. His physical shortcomings were starkly exposed.

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12. Who is Harry Swayne?

13. Courtney Hall should be cloned.

14. Coach Dan Henning has asked the defense to be “gut honest,” whatever that means, thus ignoring the reality that the offense has done little to take pressure off the defense by moving the football and gaining more advantageous field position. In the conservative approach this team has adopted, the importance of field position is magnified.

15. Someone needs to redo the halftime scripts. The Chargers have been outscored 30-3 in the third quarter. They need either more inspirational oratory or more insightful blackboard work.

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16. How in the world does a defense with Leslie O’Neal, Burt Grossman and Junior Seau have all of five sacks in four games? Was Lee Williams that important?

17. Ronnie Harmon has handled the ball 30 times for an average gain of 8.7 yards. These are invariably third-down situations in which everyone in the stadium is looking for him to get the ball. What might he do in a first- or second-down situation with a little more element of surprise? May I please be the 124,756th person to suggest it might be wise to get him the ball more often?

18. Eric Bieniemy was a wasted draft pick. It’s not that he is not a talented young man, but this team has no use for him. They used a second-round pick for their deepest position when they were crying for help at wide receiver. Drafting the best available athlete is a worn-out theory that does not work.

19. Nate Lewis can’t be the leading receiver.

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20. Too many players are from Taraboro, N.C.

21. It’s a bad sign when the punter might be the most valuable player.

22. The Chargers’ 23 penalties for 155 yards seem so much more damaging than the opposition’s 21 penalties for 144 yards. The Chargers seem to lose big plays to stupid mistakes.

23. Perhaps the Chargers have started looking ahead . . . to their Oct. 20 game with Cleveland.

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