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Chargers Fail To Catch Up To Steelers

Dwane Brown: Close, but not cigar. The San Diego Chargers scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter last night but it wasn't enough as the Pittsburgh Steelers won 38-28 at Heinz Field. Joining us on Morning Edition is North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris. Well, Jay, I was looking at the paper and Luis Castillo, the defensive end, hanging his head. So, what went wrong last night?

Jay Paris: It was pretty clear it was the boys playing against the men. If anything in these last three weeks, it's pretty clear how you beat the Chargers, you just punch them in the mouth. This is a physical, physical beating. There's no tricks, there's no mirrors, there's lots of ways to win football games. But, the chargers consistently aren't physical enough as their opponent. Until that gets fixed, it's going to be an up-and-down season, no doubt.

Alan Ray: Well, the Chargers running game is on life support right now. Why was LaDainian Tomlinson so ineffective?

Paris: A lot of it is coming back after missing two weeks. Some of it is, he's 30 years old, a lot of it too is once they fell behind 28-0, you can pretty much throw the running plays out the window. You got to throw the ball; you got to make points in a hurry. It makes you so one-dimensional. To me, one-dimensional against the Pittsburgh Steeler defense that gets after the passer so well is really tough to do. You're always looking for that balance between the run and the pass and you seldom get the 50 percent. But, once you fall behind that far, your playbook is basically cut in half.

Ray: OK, tough question. Did the Chargers make a mistake in resigning Tomlinson?

Paris: Looking at it right now, yes. It's a production-oriented business and you've played two games and been ineffective, it's hard to pin a lot of that yesterday on him, because they fell behind. My bigger concern would be on the flipside of the ball. That defense is atrocious. The basic tenet of football is stopping the run. If you can't stop the run then the other team can pretty much toy with you. That's really what the Steelers did last night.

Brown: Well, from football to baseball, Padres packed up their bags yesterday after the season end, and the Padres general manager, Kevin Towers, out. Do you think the CEO, Jeff Moorad, needs to make a change like that?

Paris: It's a curious one. Not so much that you couldn't make an argument it was warranted. After 14 years, Kevin Towers had four division titles and took the Padres to their lone World Series. But there were a lot of stinkers along the way too, four or five last place finishes, some terrible drafts and some questionable signings. But the team that played so well as of late, and the team that has played so well as of late because of the farm system, because of the younger players, because of the focus. Mr. Moorad cited for getting rid of Kevin, they needed to be stronger and drafting in player development. So, while the argument could be made that it was Kevin's time to go, it's baffling now when the team is playing so well, with all those young players. So really, he's going to go out and get somebody who he'll probably just let go, but for a lot cheaper. That's for sure.

Brown: Do you anticipate any more firings, Jay?

Paris: Yes I do. I think there's some guys walking on egg shells in scouting and player development department up there. Once Kevin went, that's a big sign. I'm sure that's not the first change to come of significant nature.

Ray: Do you think Kevin Towers would have been a better general manager if he had Steinbrunner money?

Paris: Absolutely, there's a lot of initials in baseball now because of all the statistical analysis. There's on base percentage, OPS, runners in scoring position -there's an alphabet. Towers, his biggest moment was g-u-t-s, guts. And, he's an old baseball player and scouted players like the way a lot of old baseball players do. When he walked into the room when guys started, it was guys like him. Now, when he's in the general manager room, it's Harvard grads and Ivy League guys crunching numbers and telling you what the data –tells you what to do. Towers was old school and maybe that got him in trouble sometimes, I think there's always a place in the game for people like him who always rely on his heart and gut as much as they do with statistical data.

Ray: San Diego State Aztecs beat New Mexico State over the weekend. Who would have imagined the beginning of this weekend, the SDSU Aztecs would give us the best sports news?

Paris: There's always a reason for a parade in this town, why not that one? They'll take it and a win is a good win for San Diego State as they try to rebuild that thing. They were two touchdown favorites and the scary part was it was 17-17 going into the fourth quarter. So, that one was a little closer than what they wanted it to be, but it's a long climb over there for those guys, and they'll take that win and build on it before taking on that tough BYU team in a couple weeks.

Ray: North County Times sports columnist, Jay Paris.