“The Chargers are Mad as Heck…”

That’s Peter King’s assessment of the Bolts. “Mad as heck.” I have pointed out that one reason I think the Chargers have a chance at a Super Bowl run this year is because it’s the first time in a decade that not one of the top analysts has them winning it all. He mentions it too, so I must be some kind of genius. Here’s what Peter King had to say about the Bolts in todays MMQB:

The Chargers are mad as heck, and they’re not going to take it anymore — or so they say.

Sometimes, I’ve seen the roll-the-eyes treatment from Charger players when they hear something blunt GM A.J. Smith says that they disagree with. So I’m in Smith’s office before heading out to interview some players after a morning walkthrough, and he’s talking about the differences in the 2012 team from previous ones. And he goes further than I thought he would, talking about the Chargers’ 17-15, playoff-less existence over the past two seasons.

“We have lost our respect in the league and our credibility in the league,” he says. “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.”

I thought it was strong. Very strong. There’s no question Smith, who spoke passionately, as he often does, has thought about how inexcusable it is for a team with San Diego’s talented pedigree to twice miss the playoffs with a quarterback as formidable as Philip Rivers and a supporting cast that was playoff-worthy. I was anxious to see how the players would react.

Maybe they didn’t want to rock the boat. But listen to three vets respond to the we’ve-lost-our-respect-in-the-league line.

“Amen,” said center Nick Hardwick.

“It’s the truth,” said tight end Antonio Gates. “It’s not acceptable, not negotiable.”

“That’s the mentality we have right now,” said Rivers. “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.”

This is probably the first time since 2006 — when the Chargers were coming off a third-place finish in the division — that San Diego hasn’t been locked into preseason Super Bowl contention. This is an odd year in the division. Denver has Peyton Manning. Kansas City has a formidable defense and a healthy quarterback. Oakland has a new everything. The Chargers like the pack. They’ve been the lead dogs for so long, and it’s brought them nothing but lots of regular season wins and lots of January heartache.

Good stuff. Dunno how King is somehow surprised by the answers he gets from Hardwick, Gates and Rivers, though? Of course they’re gonna agree with what AJ said. What else could they possibly say? “He’s wrong. After missing the playoffs for two straight years, we totally have credibility!” That? Dumb.


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