Early AFC West notes: A.J. Smith is peeved

Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson

San Diego general manager A.J. Smith is not happy with his team’s 2-2 start. He was particularly upset with the team’s performance against Pittsburgh in a 38-28 loss in which the Steelers jumped out to a 28-0 lead.

“Absolutely embarrassing,” Smith told the San Diego Union Tribune. “Everything is wrong with it right now. I'm not the least bit happy in a lot of areas. I've seen us be tough and physical to soft and bewildered.”

That’s not all. Look to what else Smith said: “If this trend continues, we'll be 8-8 -- or worse -- and certainly out of the division. We won't have the credentials. It's not going well for the San Diego Chargers and we'd better get our act together quickly ... We need to complete games. We've gained absolutely no ground over last year. I'm extremely disappointed.”

Smith always has a message. He always carefully measures what he says. There is a good chance he doesn’t believe the situation is as dire as he is making it sound, but he may want his team think that’s the case.

What could be scaring San Diego is, unlike, last year, Denver’s early start is impressive. The Broncos started out 3-0 last season, but they could have easily been 1-2. Maybe San Diego doesn’t sense Denver is going to fold as easily as it did last year.

Meanwhile, in Kansas City, coach Todd Haley believes quarterback Matt Cassel has to play better if the 0-4 Chiefs have a chance to win. Cassel has been slow to develop in Kansas City, but he hasn’t had much help. I think Haley singles out Cassel because he knows he can handle it and because he is the leader of his team.

Will the Raiders’ catch a break Sunday? Eli Manning did not practice Wednesday with a foot issue. Manning is expected to be able to play Sunday, but his effectiveness could be an issue.

In an ESPN.com MVP watch, Denver linebacker Elvis Dumervil is ninth. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers dropped out of the top 10. Ironically, Rivers place was taken by Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler. Rivers and Cutler were bitter rivals when Cutler was with Denver.