I just read a report from a “Chargers source,” and it goes to show how delusional people can be. The source said that Gates is “fat and slow” now, but I see it differently. Ladanian Tomlinson is arguably the best to ever step on the field in a Chargers uniform, and he has been playing with the New York Jets since the team moved into a different direction. It happens, no matter how good you are (or were), time catches up with you. You can retire just outside of your prime, or you can hold onto your dream in a smaller role.
Antonio Gates has been an incredible player, he was not drafted and has left his mark in NFL history. Sure, he is not the same guy, but in yesterday’s exciting/heartbreaking loss against the defending Superbowl Champion, the Green Bay Packers, he had 8 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. He also drew 2 penalties on the front-runner for defensive player of the year, Charles Woodson, in clutch situation in the 4th quarter.
He is still a key player for the Bolts despite losing a step, but I wouldn’t get extreme because the defense is average at best, and the offense is just not the same all around. As a team, they are in a 3-way tie for first place in the AFC West, along with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders, and it’s anybody’s division to win. The Chargers are probably the favorite to win the division and make the playoffs, and that’s without playing good football. If they can get out of their funk and find a rhythm, they could restore their elite status and be dangerous come playoff time.
Speaking of dangerous, although Aaron Rodgers had impressive statistics, San Diego dictated the tempo and the intensity of the game, and if it weren’t for 2 pick-6 scores that Rivers threw, the game would have been a different story with a possibly different result. He still led the offense to 38 points, while the defense allowed 31 points, so I would be more optimistic about the Chargers and the rest of the season, even though we all would agree they need to play better. I just think they made the best team in football look vulnerable and soft. Green Bay is still undefeated, but it’s a copycat league and part of the blueprint is on film for their future opponents to study.