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A.J. Smith: Chargers have lost respect and credibility

A J Smith

San Diego Chargers general manager A.J. Smith watches his team during NFL football practice for rookies and selected veterans at the team’s training camp, Monday, July 23, 2012, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)


Missing the playoffs two years in a row has led Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith to render a harsh verdict on his team.

Smith spoke to Peter King of for this week’s Monday Morning Quarterback column and didn’t pull any punches when King asked him about the state of his team heading into the 2012 season. Smith has no quarrel with those who have knocked his team down a peg after a 17-15 record over the past two seasons.

“We have lost our respect in the league and our credibility in the league,’' Smith says. “We were an elite team. You miss one year in the playoffs? OK. You miss two? You deserve everything that’s being said about you.”

It hasn’t helped matters in San Diego that Smith’s last few drafts have been light on impactful players. That forced him to do a bit more work on the free agent front this season than he’s done in past seasons, which, along with changes to the coaching staff, has given the team a different look than it has had in past seasons.

The fact that he still has a job is evidence that Smith chasn’t lost respect or credibility with the Spanos family as a result of the last two seasons. They say that the third time is the charm, though, and Smith’s time in San Diego could run out if the Chargers keep talking about being an elite team in the past tense.