Another Early Exit for San Diego

I’m personally pulling for Indy to represent the AFC in the upcoming Super Bowl. Peyton Manning is one of the game’s best quarterbacks, and it’s a shame that he hasn’t found his way to the big game yet. It would be nice to see him playing for the championship. But since the Broncos and the Redskins aren’t in the playoffs, it isn’t a really big deal to me. I’m a casual observer at this point.

I only preface with this to point out that I really didn’t care much about San Diego’s bid for the Super Bowl; I wasn’t pulling for them, but I wasn’t much rooting against them, either.

Here’s the thing: Marty Schottenheimer is a damned decent coach. He knows how to win games, he recognizes talent, and he’s brought a lot of winning seasons wherever he coaches. What he doesn’t do is go to Super Bowls. Forget about winning the thing, the truth is that he never seems to get to the big game. He is the winningest coach in NFL history to never coach in the Super Bowl--a fact that is going to be thrown around in the San Diego sports pages tomorrow.

For most of the season there has been a question about whether Schottenheimer would be returning as San Diego’s head coach next season. His relationship with AJ Smith, the Chargers’ general manager, is notoriously strained and, given the expectations of the team, there is going to be a lot of disappointment. There will be talk of wasting a season where LaDainian Tomlinson, Shawne Merriman, and Philip Rivers all played brilliantly, but came up short against a surprising Patriots team.

I’ll be surprised if Schottenheimer is back in San Diego next year. His reputation as a big game loser, his sour relationship with the team’s general manager, and the massively disappointing end to the season will all overshadow just how well the Chargers played this year.

The next big question for all of us now is whether Tom Brady will get his fourth ring. He’s on pace to not only match John Elway’s records as the only quarterback to start in five Super Bowls, but to eclipse the mark. What a remarkable career that young man has already had.