'Kill them all, God will know his own." There are several versions of this quote -- I like this one. It was spoken in 1209, during the Albigensian Crusade and subsequent land grab (Catholic French nobility laid siege to Cathar heretics in the city of Béziers, near the Mediterranean coast of France), by the Papal Legate, Arnaud-Amaury. The crusaders were sieging the weeks away and finally the day came when city walls were breached. The invader's commander, Simon de Montfort, asked the Papal Legate, "What's up with the Catholics in there?" Simon wanted to know how to tell who was a heretic and who was a Catholic once his army rolled into town and commenced rape and pillage. The Papal Legate replied, "Kill them all, God will know his own."
Which translates, in this time and place, to, "What's up with the San Diego Chargers?" Indeed.
So, pilgrims, gather 'round the campfire, pass the spirituous liquor bottle over here, and let's play, "Who Would You Fire?" By the by, due to column-length considerations, "Every last one of them" will not be accepted as an answer.
Ready? To begin, you could fire running back LaDainian Tomlinson. He had 14 carries for 116 yards in the first half against the Chiefs. Then, 6 carries for 26 yards for the rest of the game. This tells us the head coach is an idiot for ignoring the best running back in the NFL while his team went scoreless for two quarters. Or, Tomlinson punks out after two quarters and you need to trade that aging dinosaur while you can still get something in return. You make the choice.
You could fire the quarterback, Philip Rivers. The kid threw two interceptions and fumbled once against Kansas City. He completed just half his passes (21 of 42). You could call it a bad day except for the other bad days.
Rivers has a quarterback rating of 76 after four games, which brings him home as the 22nd-best quarterback in the NFL. (Brady is #1, Garcia of Tampa Bay is #10, and D. Huard is #21. Pop quiz! Who does D. Huard play for?*) You might explain that Rivers's past has finally caught up to him. Philip spent his kindergarten year as a waterboy for the Decatur High School football team. That's the Decatur, Alabama, Decatur High School football team where his father just so happened to be head coach. Coincidence? I think not.
Of course, you could fire the obvious choice, A.J. Smith, the general manager and personhood who saw to it Marty was fired and Norv was hired.
How many times have we seen this wretched movie? The general manager, Bobby Beathard/A.J. Smith, hires an incompetent coach whose primary job description is to get along with the personhood who hired him. The general manager does this in order to protect his own job, rather than hiring a head coach who knows what he wants and knows what he's doing and -- as byproduct -- doesn't particularly care whether or not the general manager has a job. Even with that in mind, hiring Norv, who has a .410 winning record as head coach, is an act of transparent arrogance/transparent insecurity.
Or, you could say A.J. hasn't finished his fiendishly subtle rebuilding of a 14-2 team with 11 Pro Bowlers and the league's MVP on its roster. We shall soon see the Chargers win three Super Bowls in a row. Maybe you better keep him. But, again, you make the choice.
You could go with tradition and fire the usual sacrificial lambs. That's, in part, what they're paid for. Shall it be head coach Norv Turner or offensive coordinator Clarence Shelmon or defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell? All three? Two out of three?
Or, you could decide, what with the Chargers taking sole possession of last place in the AFC West, it's only upwards from here, and it would be wise not to change the delicate chemistry already in place.
You could go for the bold move, to the heart of the beast, and toss out daddy and all his descendants, to wit, fire: Alex G. Spanos, owner; Dean A. Spanos, president and CEO; Michael A. Spanos, executive vice president; John Spanos, assistant director of college scouting; A.G. Spanos, director of marketing programs & business development.
Oh, the joy.
Sadly, that is unlikely to happen this side of paradise. But, there is one final option. Fire the receptionist and the water-cooler repairman. Sell it as a reorganization.
*(D. Huard is Damon Huard, the quarterback who led the Chiefs to a 14-point victory on Sunday. He's been in the league since 1996. Previously released by Cincinnati, Miami, and Kansas City. Signed a three-year contract with the Chiefs in February '07.)