This is something that I've brought up a couple of times before, but week after week, I can't shake the similarities between our teams. Of all the organizations in the last 5 years, the Chargers have been one of the ones I've always liked the most. They are perennial playoff contenders and have dominated their division for the last 5 years, but some may forget how they got there.
Let's take a little stroll down memory lane...Back when the Carolina Panthers were busy upsetting the world by making our way to the Super Bow in an unbelievable turn around under our young head coach John Fox, the Chargers were a mess. Their 2003 season was something of a disaster. They won only 4 games under their second year coach Marty Schottenheimer (tied for worst in the league with 3 others) after going 8-8 the year before. They had a young second year quarterback by the name of Drew Brees, but he was struggling. By week 8, the Chargers were 1 - 6 and Brees was benched in favor of the quarterback he had beat out in training camp, Doug Flutie. Brees would end up closing out the last 3 games of the season, a combined 2-8 on the year. Not all was bad in Chargers land though as a young running back by the name of LaDanian Tomlinson was beginning to emerge as a star player, having posted back to back 1000 yard seasons.
However, when the decision time came up, the Chargers decided to cover their bets, acquiring Philip Rivers in a trade with the New York Giants. Drew Brees would ultimately have break out years in both 2004 and 2005 (and just about every year since then...), but at the time he had posted two fairly bad seasons (17 TDs, 16 INTs in 2002 and 11 TDs and 15 INTs in 2003) after being in the league for three years.
If any of this is sounding familiar, it's because a fairly identical situation is playing out with here. The Carolina Panthers are solely in the "lead" for last place and at this rate will have the #1 draft pick over all. Like the Chargers, we have a young quarterback in Jimmy Clausen, but we're not sure how he will end up. He has been good at times, but he's also been fairly bad at times. Like the Chargers, there are a number of good, young prospects coming out of college in Andrew Luck and Jake Locker. So when the time comes to make our draft day selection, I can honestly say I have no issues with pulling the trigger on a guy like Andrew Luck.
We all know how the story with the Chargers ended. Drew Brees was tagged after his breakout 2004 season and left to join our division rivals after negotiations fell apart in 2005. The Chargers had Philip Rivers who went on in 2006 to lead his team to a 14-2 record. Everyone was happy.
Will we be?