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Chargers can’t be anything less than Super

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Jul 12, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19711316/" target="_blank">MSNBC.com</a>

    By Don Pierson

    <img src="http://espn-att.starwave.com/photo/2006/0731/nfl_a_rivers_195.jpg" title="LT and Philip Rivers" alt="LT and Philip Rivers" align="right" height="262" width="195" />Not too many 14-2 teams in the history of the NFL have needed to rebuild. The San Diego Chargers are the 15th team to post a 14-2 record since the league went to a 16-game schedule in 1978. They are the first to change head coaches.

    Normally, when successful teams do change for whatever reason, at least one of the coordinators is enticed to remain. Not in the Chargers' case. Not only did they fire Marty Schottenheimer, new coach Norv Turner had to start over with new coordinators when offensive coordinator Cam Cameron became head coach of the Miami Dolphins and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips became head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

    Turner hired Ted Cottrell to work the defense and got running backs coach Clarence Shelmon to stay and coordinate Turner's offense. Luckily, Turner had eight position coaches remain in an effort to maintain some continuity.

    It is also lucky for the Chargers that Turner helped install the present San Diego offense when he served as the team's offensive coordinator in 2001. So this is not a complete overhaul. The Chargers are the only team in the league that ranked among the top 10 in offense, defense and special teams. It's the coaches who have to adapt to each other, not the players.

    Turner will be expected to pick up where Schottenheimer left off. In fact, Turner's real season won't even begin until the postseason. Whether the Chargers go 14-2 or 9-7, it won't matter until the playoffs. Turner's mission is simple. He must win in the playoffs. When a team is 14-2 and fires its coach, there is no need to analyze the goals or develop a new mission statement.

    Anything less than a Super Bowl win will be a disappointment for Turner's Chargers. Anything less than a Super Bowl appearance will be a failure.

    So confident are the Chargers in their roster that they didn't add a single veteran free agent to enhance their chances. They signed their own star guard Kris Dielman, persuading him to stay home for less money than Seattle offered just because it might be a good idea to stick around this year.

    In the draft, general manager A.J. Smith took a speedy wide receiver, Craig Davis, to give the offense a more vertical presence. Then he traded a second-rounder, third-rounder, fifth-rounder and a third-rounder in 2008 to move up for safety Eric Weddle in the second round. Obviously, they would like Weddle to take over immediately for departed Terrence Kiel opposite holdover Marlon McCree. Already, Weddle has impressed coaches with his intelligence, but veteran Clinton Hart is expected to also put up a fight for the job in camp.

    The secondary could see another change at cornerback, where last year's top draft pick, Antonio Cromartie, is closing in on Drayton Florence's job opposite another former No. 1 pick Quentin Jammer.

    Replacing inside linebacker Donnie Edwards also will be a challenge. Edwards, who led the team in tackles, went back to Kansas City, so third-rounder Anthony Waters or holdover Matt Wilhelm must step up. Playing with outside forces Shaun Phillips and Shawne Merriman and behind all-pro nose tackle Jamal Williams makes inside linebacking easier.

    Merriman led the league in sacks despite serving a four-game suspension. His goal this year is to beat out Miami's Jason Taylor as defensive player of the year. To do that, he can't risk another suspension. If he does, he not only puts the 2007 Chargers in jeopardy, he puts his own bright future in jeopardy.

    Turner's biggest challenge is to make sure quarterback Philip Rivers doesn't backslide in his second season as the starter. Early reports are that Rivers is pleased with Turner's plans to allow him more leeway in a scheme that already led the league in scoring.

    They think 6-5, 240-pound Vincent Jackson can become a No. 1 wide receiver and an outside presence to complement tight end Antonio Gates. Anything to take some pressure off all-world running back LaDainian Tomlinson will help.

    Long-time Charger fans have seen this scene before. There wasn't a better offense in the league than Don Coryell's teams of the late 70s and early 80s with Dan Fouts and Kellen Winslow and Charlie Joiner and Chuck Muncie. But they never got over the hump and into a Super Bowl.
     

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