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View from the top with Dean Spanos
Your team has lost four in a row. What’s your mindset right now?
It’s obviously very disappointing. I know the players are disappointed, but I can tell you that nobody’s giving up in this organization. We’ve regrouped as we have every week. We’re focused on Chicago coming up on Sunday. Despite the injuries and all the things that happened in the last three or four weeks, we’re going to go out there with a great attitude and we’re going to do the best we can to win this game and then look forward to the next game.
A lot of fans are upset with the way things are going. What do you want them to know?
As it is every year, our focus is to try to get in the postseason. Look at our division right now: we’re in second place, one game back of the Raiders. We have seven games to go. A little less than half the season’s still left. Our focus is staying in the hunt and giving ourselves a chance to win the division at the end of the year.
Can you relate to the fan’s reaction?
Sure I can. It’s a sense of frustration and we’re all frustrated. When things don’t go perfect, and they haven’t in the last four weeks, you start zeroing in on all sorts of reasons why, and you can probably attribute some part of not winning to all of them. But that’s just typical in this business. You have to put that behind you and you have to focus on getting better, whether it be improving in the red zone, fewer turnovers, fewer penalties, more takeaways, all areas where we need to get better. That’s what they work on during the week and that’s our focus going into this game Sunday.
Injuries have hit your team hard.
It’s something that is unexplainable. You can call it bad luck or whatever you want, but we have an inordinate amount of injuries this year as we did last year at key positions. You can’t use it as an excuse. You have to put the next guy in and you have to do the best you can to move forward. Everybody’s playing hard. We have to come up with the best game plan possible for Sunday to put the players we have in the best position to win. I trust our coaches to do that.
What gives you confidence that your team can turn it around?
I think it centers around Norv. We’ve been in this predicament before. The players are tremendously loyal to Norv. They play hard for him. They believe in him. He comes up with a strategy and a game plan each week and that’s his expertise.
A lot of people have given up on this season and are calling for changes. What do say to those people?
Look, as I have said in the past, you can’t really judge a season ’til it’s complete, and we’re just a little bit over halfway through. Again, I go back to our division race. We’re one game back in the division. A lot of things can happen in the next seven games. You can turn that around quickly and win the division if you win a majority of those games and that’s our focus right now. I’ve never done an evaluation midseason because it really doesn’t mean a whole lot. It really is most credible at the end of the season when all the games are played and you can look at everything that’s transpired throughout the season and make your decisions in terms of what you think is in the best interests of the club going forward.
Do you think the “window” for this team to win a championship is closing or closed?
I’ve heard that statement before. I believe players have windows that open and close but I don’t believe teams do. There is always change and turnover. Every year you have a draft. You have the ability to bring in free agents. You’re going to lose some players but you’re also going to gain some players. You just have to stay up with the quality of personnel that you have. You do that through the draft and you do that through free agency. You may have a great player who retires or moves on, but that doesn’t mean his team’s window has closed.
How might this slump affect your stadium efforts?
It won’t. A new stadium is a long-term, big-picture benefit for San Diego. I think people understand that.
If you’re going to leave Chargers fans with one message, what would that be?
This team is focused on winning. This team believes in their head coach. They prepare very hard every week and they go in there focused on winning. Nobody has given up the fight to win the division. We’re one game behind the Raiders and we’re focused on beating Chicago and beating those guys (the Raiders) at the end of the season.