How much better of a GM will the San Diego Chargers’ Tom Telesco be than A.J. Smith?
That’s the primary question that Bolts fans should be asking entering the 2013 offseason.
Before projecting the impact of any individual personnel addition, one must always take into account not only how well the new individual has performed his job in the past, but also how much better he can perform his job in the future over the person that he has replaced.
In Telesco’s case, it shouldn’t be that difficult at all to embarrass Smith in that regard.
Smith should’ve been fired years ago. While he built a number of impressive Chargers teams, his blatant gaffes contributed to them not sniffing a Super Bowl during his tenure.
Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego reported that the former San Diego general manager said after his firing, “When you win, you do things right. When you lose, you do things wrong.”
That isn’t entirely true. Smith boasted the unique ability to do things wrong even when he won.
Perhaps his greatest gaffe was the firing of Marty Schottenheimer after a 14-2 regular season. Sure, owner Dean Spanos pulled the trigger, but according to John Clayton of ESPN, it was Schottenheimer’s toxic relationship with Smith that did the head coach in.
Of course, despite that being one of the most unjust firings in NFL history, Smith has managed to build up an entire resume of bone-headed decisions that have been nearly on par with his fallout with Schottenheimer.
Smith chose to keep Philip Rivers over Drew Brees, which, in hindsight, looks much worse now than it did at the time it happened. But far more condemning than simply picking the wrong quarterback is the fact that Smith let Brees walk in free agency.
To really put things in perspective, let's look at the fact that the Arizona Cardinals gave the Philadelphia Eagles a Pro Bowl cornerback and a second-round pick in exchange for Kevin Kolb. Just imagine how much the Chargers could have received for Brees, who, unlike Kolb, was a Pro Bowler in his second-to-last season in San Diego.
Smith mishandled Michael Turner's and Vincent Jackson’s exits from San Diego as well. Despite plenty of opportunities to trade each of them for great value, they both left via free agency instead.
If Telesco, who had worked with the Indianapolis Colts since 1998, doesn’t blow Smith’s performance with the Chargers away, it’d be shocking. He helped build the team that won more regular season games and earned more playoff appearances than any other team in the NFL from 2000 to 2009.
Success, or at least improvement, seems guaranteed with Telesco now in charge.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.