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Coach gap means little; players key

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Concudan, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. Concudan

    Concudan Caffeinated Commando

    Mar 5, 2006

    There are those among the Chargers' faithful chefs who have pots of panic stewing on their front burners. This is football global warming. The team's ice cap is melting like a Popsicle on Satan's veranda. It's a flood. Run for your lives. Seek higher ground.

    Four assistants have left for better jobs. The offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, has become head coach of the Dolphins. The defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, has become head coach of the Cowboys. The tight ends coach, Rob Chudzinski, now is Cleveland's offensive coordinator. Linebackers coach Greg Manusky has left to run San Francisco's defense.

    What a nightmare.

    “The guy you're talking to is not panicking,” says head coach Marty Schottenheimer, who's already filled all but one of the positions and is working on a successor to Phillips. “People are running wild in the streets. The house isn't on fire.”

    Maybe I look at football with a different eye than most. I believe it's easier to find good coaches than good players.

    “I'm not so sure of that,” Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith says. “Let me think about that one.”
    Of course, in four years, Smith has managed to build the most talented roster in the sport, so he can find terrific players. But not everyone can, or every team would be good.

    It's not a big deal – if Schottenheimer indeed finds qualified coaches, who are out there. But Smith thinks losing both coordinators, especially, is a blow. He figured he'd lose one, maybe, not two.

    “Both of those guys are gone. Whew!” Smith says. “It happened in New England, but they had three championship rings. This is bizarre. We're taking a hit and we haven't won anything. We have nothing. Two playoff appearances and we can't get out of the gate. To take a hit like this is hard, especially without having a ring.”

    But that's the NFL. When you get good, other teams study you. Why have you been successful? They can't get your players, so they go after your coaches. It's overrated.

    In that Smith mentioned New England, let's stay there. Since winning that third Super Bowl in February 2005, Bill Belichick has lost two defensive coordinators (Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini) and an offensive coordinator (Charlie Weis) to bigger things.

    Do you even know who his coordinators were in the Patriots' defeat of San Diego in last month's playoff game? For the record, they were Dean Pees (defense) and Josh McDaniels (offense). Never heard of them.

    But, tell you what, as appreciated as Cameron and Phillips were, those two Patriots coaches out-coordinated the Chargers pair on Jan. 14. Maybe McDaniels, knowing Belichick can't handle LaDainian Tomlinson, would have given the ball to LT more than nine times in the second half. Maybe Pees wouldn't have gone to a prevent defense at the end of the first half, allowing New England to get right back in the game.

    So, Belichick finds coaches. And Schottenheimer didn't win 200 regular-season games by himself. He's had help. As Lou Holtz said: “Moses died leaning on his staff, and so will I.”

    When fabled offensive line coach Hudson Houck left for bigger Dolphins bucks two years ago, Schottenheimer brought in Carl Mauck. Very experienced. It didn't work out. So Mauck was removed and the head coach brought in Jack Henry and Hal Hunter to run the O line. Ever heard of them?

    Well, despite rookie Marcus McNeill manning the critical left tackle spot, Tomlinson led The League in rushing, scored a record 31 touchdowns and won every award but best actor in a leading role. The Chargers ranked 11th in The League in fewest sacks allowed per pass play and tied for eighth-best in fewest sacks allowed. They also led the NFL in scoring.

    So somebody coached. Somebody blocked. Still, we're basically looking at a lame duck staff here. “Lame duck. That's always a negative,” Smith says.

    Maybe. But it's true. With the exception of defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely, who signed on through 2008, all the other coaches' contracts, including Schottenheimer's and new offensive coordinator Clarence Shelmon's, are good only through 2007.

    “When this thing settles, then we'll decide what to do with the coaches,” Smith says. “It all comes down to players, and our players know the system.”

    The Chargers don't discuss contracts with assistants' agents, which could create a problem with good coaches signing with the club. But that, too, could change.

    “I'm not so sure we're going to continue to do that long-range,” Smith says. “I need to revisit that. I'm not real comfortable with that (policy) right now. Agents confuse things, but I'm not sure it will continue.”

    What will continue, eventually, is the revolving door through which coaches go. Shelmon, as an example, never has called plays. But coaches don't call plays until they're asked to for the first time. Schottenheimer's son, Brian, went from quarterbacks coach here to calling plays for the Jets. They made the playoffs.

    A lot of good coaches are out there. A lot of good players are not. And the Chargers have good players. The meltdown hasn't taken place.

    Identify good coaches and hire them. Simple.

    Nick Canepa: (619) 293-1397; nick.canepa@uniontrib.com
  2. Shamrock

    Shamrock Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    Poached from an ESPN Insiders link:

    Pete Carmichael, Jr. bio

    So, if you look at Chargers coordinators and assistants since 2004, the upward movement is staggering.

    Cam Cameron - Dolphins Head Coach
    Wade Phillips - Cowboys Head Coach
    Tim Brewster - U. Minnesota Head Coach

    Brian Schottenheimer - Jets OC
    Rob Chudzinski - Browns OC
    Greg Manusky - 49ers DC
    Clarence Shelmon - Chargers OC

    Pete Carmichael, Jr. - Possible Dolphins OC
    John Pagano - Possible Chargers DC

    That's a lot of talent moving upwards. The people that compare it to the Patriots loss of 3 coordinators are underestimating how much of a brain drain it truly is.

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