Tolbert Puts Polish on Chargers' Demise and Other AFC West News

Christopher HansenNFL AnalystDecember 17, 2012

Mike Tolbert leaps over the pile for a touchdown on Sunday.
Mike Tolbert leaps over the pile for a touchdown on Sunday.Donald Miralle/Getty Images

Mike Tolbert and Vincent Jackson were just the most recent offensive weapons that A.J. Smith let leave the San Diego Chargers in free agency. Smith signed Ronnie Brown, Jackie Battle, Le’Ron McClain, Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem to replace them.

This isn’t the first example of when Smith let a productive player leave in free agency. Conventional wisdom says that teams don’t let players leave that they want to keep and therefore ones that are available in free agency have significant flaws. That doesn’t seem to be the case with the free agents that have left San Diego in recent years.

Smith let offensive production leave in free agency, and it came back to haunt him in 2012. Smith’s offense was swimming is a sea of production, but he stopped feeding it and it went belly-up overnight. Smith’s failures will almost assuredly cost him his job.

Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego says Tolbert’s production was just another piece of the Chargers’ demise this season. Tolbert was the one that few expected would be a significant loss, because he was one of the least productive of all the players that Smith let walk in free agency—but he was productive in his role.

Tolbert provided the Chargers with a capable running back when Ryan Mathews was injured or ineffective. Tolbert was also a great goal-line back, and on Sunday he reminded the Chargers with two one-yard touchdown runs to eliminate the Chargers from the playoff scene.

Tolbert’s two touchdown runs on Sunday were one more than Ryan Mathews has all season. Tolbert has four touchdowns on the season, which is equal to the combined rushing touchdowns by Mathews, Battle, Brown and McClain. Tolbert hasn’t been used in Carolina like he was in San Diego, but he’s just another example of production that Smith tried to replace without success.

More AFC West news…


San Diego

Cam Newton said the game was easy for the Panthers on Sunday, according to Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego.

Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego says the fans booed heavily and left early at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday.



Monte Poole of the Contra Costa Times says Oakland’s future took a hit with their win Sunday.

The Raiders are in search of their identity, according to Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle.



The Broncos showed the Ravens how to play defense, according to Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post.

Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post says the key to victory was limiting the Ravens’ stars.


Kansas City

Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star says the Chiefs’ level of incompetence reached new heights on Sunday.

Dustin Colquitt—the punter—became the subject of Randy Covitz’s article for the Kansas City Star. That’s pretty bad.