Source: <a href="http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=ap-chargers-coaches&prov=ap&type=lgns" target="_blank">Associated Press</a>
<img src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/11/29152_282wh.jpg" alt="Wade Phillips" />
By Bernie Wilson
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Nearly a month after they melted down in the playoffs, the San Diego Chargers are looking at another big loss.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was hired as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, following offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and two other assistants out of town for better jobs.
"Change in our business is inevitable, whether you win or lose," coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "When you have the kind of success we've had in the last three years, you're going to have people interested in your staff. We've lost two excellent coordinators to opportunities that are richly deserved."
Schottenheimer said Phillips did a "terrific job for us" in three seasons, during which the Chargers were 35-13. "His contributions helped us become one of the best teams in the NFL, particularly on defense."
General manager A.J. Smith wasn't surprised to see Phillips leave, but sounded concerned at losing both coordinators.
"Both in the same year -- Wow," Smith said. "We shall see what happens to our team, when Marty hires a new coach.
"I wish it wasn't two guys in the same year, speaking personally as GM, but I'm happy for the guys, because the aspiration is to become a head coach," said Smith, who lets Schottenheimer hire and fire assistant coaches.
The coaching exodus follows the Chargers' shocking 24-21 loss to the New England Patriots on Jan. 14. After going an NFL-best 14-2, the Chargers had four turnovers and committed numerous other mistakes.
Cameron was hired as Miami's head coach on Jan. 19.
Tight ends coach Rob Chudzinski became the Cleveland Browns' offensive coordinator, and linebackers coach Greg Manusky was hired as the San Francisco 49ers' defensive coordinator.
Running backs coach Clarence Shelmon, who's never been a coordinator, was promoted to replace Cameron. He accepted only a one-year contract due to Schottenheimer's lame-duck status. Schottenheimer, under contract through 2007, declined the team's offer of a $4.5 million, one-year extension through 2008, which came with a club-option $1 million buyout. Schottenheimer has been at odds with Smith since the 2005 season.
While the Chargers announced Shelmon's promotion on Jan. 26, they haven't formally introduced him as the new coordinator. As of Tuesday, he hadn't signed his new deal because his agent and the team were still working on contract language.
The Chargers hired Clancy Barone as tight ends coach and Matt Simon as running backs coach.
Outside linebacker Shaun Phillips, who had a breakout season with 11 1-2 sacks in 2006, was sad to see Phillips go.
"Of course I'm upset because coach Wade brought the best out of us," Shaun Phillips said. "It hurts to see him leave. Not only is he a great coach, but he was a great man to look up to."
Wade Phillips, the son of former NFL head coach Bum Phillips, was hired following the 2003 season and revived the Chargers' punchless defense by installing the 3-4.
"We've got a 3-4 for a reason, to utilize our personnel," said Shaun Phillips, who became a starter after Steve Foley was shot by an off-duty police officer eight days before the season opener. Foley said last week that his career could be over.
"I wouldn't want to play for any other defensive coordinator," Shaun Phillips said. "But unfortunately this is the NFL and transactions happen. We've got to move forward."
Schottenheimer said he would interview current members of the defensive staff and possibly look outside.
Even as Schottenheimer waded into filling the vacancy, he was adamant that Phillips' scheme will stay.
"We will run the 3-4 defense," Schottenheimer said. "It doesn't matter who we bring in. Quite frankly, it's easier to have him run it than have all the players learn a new system. It's difficult to find four defensive linemen. It's a lot easier to find guys with size who can run."