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Chargers don't want to be fall guys

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Sep 11, 2005.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.pe.com/sports/football/stories/PE_Sports_Local_D_chargers11.390a752.html" target="_blank">The Press-Enterprise</a>

    SAN DIEGO - In the NFL's insatiable quest for parity, teams can rise quickly ... but fall just as fast. The Chargers' task, as they embark on their 2005 regular season today, is to make sure that last season's ascension isn't accompanied by a similar fall this year.

    "There's a caution in the sense that it can happen and we need to make sure that it doesn't happen," quarterback Drew Brees said. "But I'm not worried about it happening because I think we have a great mind-set.

    "We always preach one play at a time, one game at a time. I think saying that phrase has never been more important than this year. It's easy to look down the schedule, look at those road trips and all that other stuff ... but if you take care of your business from week to week, at the end of the year you're going to look at your won-loss record and you're going to have a lot of wins and be headed to the playoffs."

    Test No. 1 comes today at Qualcomm Stadium against a Dallas Cowboys team attempting to rebound from a 6-10 season in 2004.

    It will be played before a full house, testament to what the Chargers did last year to get their city energized again. The turnaround from a 4-12 season in 2003 to 12-4 and a division title last season rekindled interest that had waned seriously in the previous eight seasons.

    "Man, it's awesome," linebacker Donnie Edwards said. "I remember when I was growing up here and it was a sold-out house and the Chargers were winning. It was just a good feeling, not only for us as players but for the city. Everyone's excited, and it makes our job fun.

    "... I hope we can deliver."

    The Chargers start out with a Pro Bowl quarterback in Brees and a Pro Bowl running back in LaDainian Tomlinson, considered by a growing number as the best running back in the game. They'll add a third Pro Bowl component next week when tight end Antonio Gates comes off the roster exempt list. They have every starter from last year's team back, a rarity in the free agency era.

    But they also face the league's fifth toughest schedule, after loading up last season on one of its softest. They have division champions New England, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Indianapolis on their dance card, plus the New York Jets, who eliminated them from the playoffs last January. Additionally, division rivals Oakland and Kansas City have seriously re-tooled.

    "Everybody right now thinks we can get this thing done," Coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "But the ones who get it done are the ones who (excel) in the meeting rooms, in their classroom activity, on the practice field -- the ones who continue to work at refining their skills and making sure they understand what they're expected to do."

    The Chargers' mind-set is different than it was a year ago. Going into the 2004 opener at Houston, they were confident they'd be better, but they were an unknown quantity largely because so many players were new.

    "We expected to win last year," Brees said. "We honestly believed we could. But last year as we were going through the season, something good just needed to happen for us to kick it into gear. We believed we could win, but we hadn't done it yet.

    "Now we're in a situation where, yes, we've won, and yes, we have had success. We still have that same belief that we're going to win, but even more so we know what the next step is. We know where we've been, and we know where we want to go."

    Added linebacker Steve Foley: "Guys are anxious to see where we're at, see how far along we are ... Of course, right now, everyone's got confidence in each other. It's just about going out there and getting the job done, handling your responsibility.

    "We can't do what we did last year in a lot of cases, trying to cover up for somebody else. That's when the whole defense gets beat. As long as we take it upon ourselves to do the job, we can expect big things from each other."

    Dallas coach Bill Parcells, asked on a conference call this week if he thought a team that rose so quickly would be susceptible to falling back, said:

    "I don't necessarily think that's the case. I do think, if you're playing in the conference championship game a couple of years in a row and you don't get to the big game (you might fall back). I've seen that happen five or six times, where a team gets really close a few times and then it seems like something happens and they fall back.

    "But to go into the NFL season expecting to win 12 or 13 games every year, with the competition and the parity the way it is, I think it's hard to assume that you'll do that. You just try to get started well and see where the chips fall."

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