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Bolts begin their AFC West title defense

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Jul 29, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    <strong>July 29, 2005</strong>
    Source: <a href="http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/07/29/sports/professional/chargers/22_34_437_28_05.txt">The North County Times</a>

    SAN DIEGO ---- It's a back-to-back the Chargers would embrace. Anyone for consecutive winning seasons? How about a double dose of playoff appearances?

    And wouldn't a two-year reign as the AFC West Division kings be royally cool?

    The Chargers kick off their full-squad training camp this morning at Chargers Park looking for a rare postseason double-double. The ins-and-outs of this franchise before last season were eight straight nonwinning seasons and eight consecutive years of missing the playoffs.

    But those streaks hit the skids when the Chargers transformed a 4-12 mark in 2003 into 12-4. The worst-to-first metamorphosis transformed the team's image from a laughingstock to one having good stock.

    No longer are the Chargers the equivalent of a doormat, a sleepy opponent teams would welcome at any stage in the season.

    But is the stage set for the Chargers to take residence among the NFL's elite teams? Or does a dramatic pratfall await, with the Bolts racing through the NFL atmosphere and returning to earth with a thud?

    Getting to the top of the heap is one thing. Staying A-No. 1 is something else, according to quarterback Drew Brees.

    "It will be harder this year,'' said Brees, who's coming off his first Pro Bowl season. "In my mind, it's always tougher after you have success. It's always easier to come back from adversity than to go out and eclipse what you did after a successful season.''

    That one giddy year can't block out years of Chargers frustration. And coach Marty Schottenheimer reminds his players that the 2004 season is adios. If the Chargers want to remain the division's darlings, it's time to giddy-up before getting smacked with a slate of demanding games.

    The Chargers face road games against Indianapolis, Philadelphia, New England and the New York Jets. Those teams went 49-15 last season and provided the two Super Bowl participants. And there's the annual trips to AFC West rivals Denver and Kansas City, two of the more difficult venues at which to play.

    "We've got quite a challenge,'' he said. "The schedule is a difficult one. Arguably, this is as tough of a schedule as I've faced.''

    And let's face it: the Chargers will no longer surprise rivals like a burglar in the night. Savvy opponents will spy a versatile offense, a defense that is nasty against the run and a special teams squad led by two solid legs.

    "People said we snuck up on teams last year, but there's not much sneaking around the NFL,'' center Nick Hardwick said.

    Now the Chargers are eager to prove it wasn't a one-time deal.

    "We're trying to establish something out here where there hasn't been anything long-term in a while,'' Hardwick said. "Obviously, our goal is to do better than last year. We definitely don't want to have that one good season and fall back to 7-9 or whatever. You just can't let yourself do that.''

    What Chargers fans can do is dream of their young team building on last season's shocking success and this year not being the first AFC team eliminated from the playoffs.

    It all starts in earnest this morning with players loosening up and coaches loosening their vocal cords.

    "It's time,'' Schottenheimer said, "to go back to work.''

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