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Inside Slant - 1/18/07

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Jan 18, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm">USA Today</a>
    <div class="inside-copy"><img width="210" height="218" align="left" alt="Marty Schottenheimer" title="Marty Schottenheimer" src="http://www.bolttalk.com/images/marty04.jpg" /> The Chargers' biggest off-season question was answered before the AFC Championship Game: Marty Schottenheimer will return.</div>
    <p class="inside-copy">After letting him twist with uncertainly since Sunday's disappointing loss to the Patriots in a divisional playoff game, Schottenheimer was told Wednesday he can return.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">But what Schottenheimer did might have surprised the team's ownership. He declined its offer of a $4.5 million contract extension through the 2008 season, although it came with a $1 million option that was at the team's option.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "There's been a lot of discussion about the possibility of this thing, but I signed a contract and I have every intention of fulfilling that contract," Schottenheimer said. "We talked about another option within the framework of another year, and I just wasn't comfortable with that part of the arrangement."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Why would Schottenheimer, one of five coaches with 200 regular-season wins, turn down the deal?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Easy - the base salary of $4.5 million - for next year - is already below market. Atlanta recently gave Bobby Petrino $4.8 million for five years and even paid his 1 million buyout at Louisville. Petrino has never been an NFL head coach and he is going to get more next year than someone with 200 regular-season wins?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Doesn't make sense.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"Right now, I wasn't comfortable accepting it," Schottenheimer said. "I appreciate that it was extended to me."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">What he really appreciates is the club he will take into games next year. Despite the extreme heartache that penetrates the Chargers facility, this remains a dynamite team.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Let's say Schottenheimer has another banner season and even wins a playoff game or two - my gosh, even advancing to the Super Bowl. Can you imagine what he could draw on the open market, a market that will be even more lucrative if Bill Cowher, if expected, gets back into coaching?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Schottenheimer is no fool and he won't be played for one. He just went 14-2 with a first-year starting quarterback and a rookie left tackle. So he'll collect his $3 million for 2007, trot out with one of the NFL's most talented teams and then let the cards fall where they may.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Lame duck status? Big deal. If Schottenheimer was a young coach or one which didn't command respect from his players, that might be an issue. But that is far from the case and it shouldn't be a cause for concern.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"I've never done it before," Schottenheimer said. "But believe me, I don't think there are any circumstances there that can't be addressed and any issues that can't be resolved."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">One thing is - Schottenheimer will be the Chargers head coach.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The story regarding the Chargers' reaction to the Patriots celebrating on the Chargers helmet at midfield after Sunday's win lives on. DE Luis Castillo said the difference is when Shawne Merriman does his Lights Out dance it's in the heat of competition and not post-game. "You've never seen Shawne go up to a player after the game do his Lights Out dance," Castillo said. "You've never seen Shawne talk about a player after a game, talk about a team after a game, put them down in a way."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Hanging 10 in Hawaii? That's what 10 Chargers will be doing at the Pro Bowl after rookie LT Marcus McNeill was summoned to replace injured Bengal Willie Anderson. What makes the Pro Bowl particularly interesting for the Chargers is that if the Pats lose Sunday in AFC Championship Game, the AFC Pro Bowl coach will be the Pats' Bill Belichick. The same coach LaDainian Tomlinson called out for not having any class.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers' mark of 35-15 over the past three years - including the playoffs - is the best three-year run in team history. The 1979-81 squads were 35-18 under Don Coryell.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-While TE Antonio Gates is among the key Chargers throwing his support to coach Marty Schottenheimer, he knows it doesn't mean squat. "One thing I've learned about playing in this league: Business is business," he said. "You do what you can control."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB LaDainian Tomlinson is hopeful the team can come to an agreement with LG Kris Dielman; he's set to become a restricted free agent. "He's been very important to our success and what we have been able to do," Tomlinson said. "Dielman is a guy that brings an attitude to the offensive line that we desperately need to have. I think it will be bad if we lose him."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Tomlinson on Schottenheimer: "He's done a tremendous job, in my opinion."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers assistant coaches were also offered extensions.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "There comes a time when the players have to get the coach over the hump." - Tomlinson, on the team's sloppy play in the playoff loss to New England.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers don't have much tinkering to do, not after winning another AFC West title with a young core of players.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Among the concerns is the left guard spot, where Kris Dielman is set to become a restricted free agent. The team had hoped to sign him to a long-term deal - like everyone else on the line - but Dielman hasn't bit at their low-ball offer.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">There also will be turnover at the inside linebacker positions. Donnie Edwards is in GM A.J. Smith's doghouse for asking for a contract extension. Smith stiff-armed him and now Edwards is a free agent. Randall Godfrey's spot could also be vacant if he follows through on his retirement plans.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">While the team won't have much of a different look next season, the same can't be said about the men coaching it. Although the main man, coach Marty Schottenheimer, will be back.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The coaching staff will see some turnover if offensive Cam Cameron takes the Miami job and receivers coach James Lofton is hired by the Raiders.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">QUARTERBACKS: Starter - Philip Rivers. Backups - Billy Volek, Charlie Whitehurst.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">It's tough to argue with a first-year starting quarterback winning the division and directing the squad to 14 regular-season games. Rivers was sensational in his first year and has the Pro Bowl selection to prove it. Volek gives the team a solid backup with experience and Whitehurst the youngster with the live arm and a thirst to get better. But it was the play of Rivers which stands out, as he throw for 22 touchdowns and only nine interceptions and finished the season as the NFL's highest-rated quarterback when it matters most: the fourth quarter.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUNNING BACKS: Starters - HB LaDainian Tomlinson, FB Lorenzo Neal. Backups - HB Michael Turner, FB Andrew Pinnock.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Tomlinson had a season for the ages, winning the MVP and setting numerous NFL records. He has etched his name alongside those of the best ever. Tomlinson's 31 touchdowns and nine straight 100-yard rushing games was the stuff of legends. Neal continues to provide the key lead block that Tomlinson follows on countless occasions. Turner might be the best backup in the league and could start for a number of other clubs. He's going to become a restricted free agent, but it's doubtful the Chargers would let him get away.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">TIGHT ENDS: Starter - Antonio Gates. Backups - Brandon Manumaleuna, Ryan Krause.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Gates again proved to be the gold standard at his position and was rewarded with All-Pro status. Manumaleuna was a bit of a surprise as he was brought in for his blocking, but his soft hands resulted in three TD receptions. Krause seldom played and didn't win over any front-office friends with his DUI arrest late in the year.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Eric Parker, Keenan McCardell. Backups - Vincent Jackson, Kassim Osgood, Malcom Floyd, Az-Zahir Hakim, Greg Camarillo.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Parker and McCardell were decent, but where's the scoring production? Both went the entire year minus a touchdown catch. The tank could be running low on the veteran McCardell, as he disappeared down the stretch as the team went with Jackson instead in key situations. Jackson likely starts next year. Floyd was a red-zone force with three touchdown catches before getting hurt and landing on IR.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters - LT Marcus McNeill, LG Kris Dielman, C Nick Hardwick, RG Mike Goff, RT Shane Olivea. Backups - T Roman Oben, C/G Scott Mruczkowski, C/G Cory Withrow, T Cory Lekkerkerker.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Solid play here was among the reasons the Chargers had the highest-scoring team in the league. McNeill was great in his rookie year, and along with the reliable Hardwick, is headed to the Pro Bowl. Dielman might have been the best of the bunch, and the team is trying to bring him back with a long-term deal. Olivea was fine. Oben delivers depth and experience. Among the other backups, the team likes Mruczkowski the most.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters - DE Luis Castillo, NT Jamal Williams, DE Igor Olshansky. Backups - DE Derreck Robinson, DE Jacques Cesaire, NT Ryon Bingham, DT Brandon McKinney.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Williams had the best season of his decorated career and heads to the Pro Bowl again. He was the reason the run defense was so good, as he consistency blew up plays so the linebacker could zero in on ball-carries. Castillo had seven sacks, but missed six games with an ankle sprain - he's an emerging star. Olshansky is a run-stuffer and does a good job in a limited role. Cesaire supplies a push up field and Bingham could eventually replace Williams some day.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">LINEBACKERS: Starters - OLB Shawne Merriman, ILB Donnie Edwards, ILB Randall Godfrey, OLB Shaun Phillips. Backups - ILB Tim Dobbins, ILB Stephen Cooper, ILB Matt Wilhelm, OLB Carlos Polk, OLB Marques Harris.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Merriman led the league in 17 sacks despite missing four games with a steroids suspension; he is a stud. Edwards led the team in tackles for the fifth straight year, but is headed out of town - GM A.J. Smith doesn't like him. Godfrey was productive, but is considering retirement after 11 years. Phillips also was a force on passing downs, collecting 11.5 sacks. Look for Cooper and Wilhelm to possibly replace Godfrey and Edwards next seasons.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - LCB Quentin Jammer, RCB Drayton Florence, SS Marlon McCree, FS Terrence Kiel. Backups - CB Antonio Cromartie, CB Cletis Gordon, CB Steve Gregory, FS Bhawoh Jue, SS Clinton Hart.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Much improvement here, due in part to the stout pass rush the Chargers delivered in leading the league with 61 sacks. Jammer had a solid year, although his spotty game against the Pats will long be remembered; ditto Florence. McCree supplied leadership and direction to this group after being signed as a free agent. Kiel has big-time issues after being charged on five felony drug counts and could be gone. Hart would be a viable replacement.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">SPECIAL TEAMS: K Nate Kaeding, P Mike Scifres, LS David Binn, PR Eric Parker, KR Michael Turner.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Kaeding had the best season ever for a Chargers kicker and is Pro Bowl-bound. Scifres was a weapon with his impressive net return average of 38.2 yards. Turner averaged 26.5 yards on kick returns; Parker averaged 9.5 on punts. Specialist Kassim Osgood was rewarded for his play with a Pro Bowl invitation.</p>

    <div class="inside-copy">The Chargers' biggest off-season question was answered before the AFC Championship Game: Marty Schottenheimer will return.</div>
    <p class="inside-copy">After letting him twist with uncertainly since Sunday's disappointing loss to the Patriots in a divisional playoff game, Schottenheimer was told Wednesday he can return.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">But what Schottenheimer did might have surprised the team's ownership. He declined its offer of a $4.5 million contract extension through the 2008 season, although it came with a $1 million option that was at the team's option.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"There's been a lot of discussion about the possibility of this thing, but I signed a contract and I have every intention of fulfilling that contract," Schottenheimer said. "We talked about another option within the framework of another year, and I just wasn't comfortable with that part of the arrangement."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Why would Schottenheimer, one of five coaches with 200 regular-season wins, turn down the deal?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Easy - the base salary of $4.5 million - for next year - is already below market. Atlanta recently gave Bobby Petrino $4.8 million for five years and even paid his 1 million buyout at Louisville. Petrino has never been an NFL head coach and he is going to get more next year than someone with 200 regular-season wins?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Doesn't make sense.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"Right now, I wasn't comfortable accepting it," Schottenheimer said. "I appreciate that it was extended to me."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">What he really appreciates is the club he will take into games next year. Despite the extreme heartache that penetrates the Chargers facility, this remains a dynamite team.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Let's say Schottenheimer has another banner season and even wins a playoff game or two - my gosh, even advancing to the Super Bowl. Can you imagine what he could draw on the open market, a market that will be even more lucrative if Bill Cowher, if expected, gets back into coaching?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Schottenheimer is no fool and he won't be played for one. He just went 14-2 with a first-year starting quarterback and a rookie left tackle. So he'll collect his $3 million for 2007, trot out with one of the NFL's most talented teams and then let the cards fall where they may.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Lame duck status? Big deal. If Schottenheimer was a young coach or one which didn't command respect from his players, that might be an issue. But that is far from the case and it shouldn't be a cause for concern.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">"I've never done it before," Schottenheimer said. "But believe me, I don't think there are any circumstances there that can't be addressed and any issues that can't be resolved."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">One thing is - Schottenheimer will be the Chargers head coach.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The story regarding the Chargers' reaction to the Patriots celebrating on the Chargers helmet at midfield after Sunday's win lives on. DE Luis Castillo said the difference is when Shawne Merriman does his Lights Out dance it's in the heat of competition and not post-game. "You've never seen Shawne go up to a player after the game do his Lights Out dance," Castillo said. "You've never seen Shawne talk about a player after a game, talk about a team after a game, put them down in a way."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Hanging 10 in Hawaii? That's what 10 Chargers will be doing at the Pro Bowl after rookie LT Marcus McNeill was summoned to replace injured Bengal Willie Anderson. What makes the Pro Bowl particularly interesting for the Chargers is that if the Pats lose Sunday in AFC Championship Game, the AFC Pro Bowl coach will be the Pats' Bill Belichick. The same coach LaDainian Tomlinson called out for not having any class.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers' mark of 35-15 over the past three years - including the playoffs - is the best three-year run in team history. The 1979-81 squads were 35-18 under Don Coryell.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-While TE Antonio Gates is among the key Chargers throwing his support to coach Marty Schottenheimer, he knows it doesn't mean squat. "One thing I've learned about playing in this league: Business is business," he said. "You do what you can control."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB LaDainian Tomlinson is hopeful the team can come to an agreement with LG Kris Dielman; he's set to become a restricted free agent. "He's been very important to our success and what we have been able to do," Tomlinson said. "Dielman is a guy that brings an attitude to the offensive line that we desperately need to have. I think it will be bad if we lose him."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Tomlinson on Schottenheimer: "He's done a tremendous job, in my opinion."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers assistant coaches were also offered extensions.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "There comes a time when the players have to get the coach over the hump." - Tomlinson, on the team's sloppy play in the playoff loss to New England.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The Chargers don't have much tinkering to do, not after winning another AFC West title with a young core of players.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Among the concerns is the left guard spot, where Kris Dielman is set to become a restricted free agent. The team had hoped to sign him to a long-term deal - like everyone else on the line - but Dielman hasn't bit at their low-ball offer.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">There also will be turnover at the inside linebacker positions. Donnie Edwards is in GM A.J. Smith's doghouse for asking for a contract extension. Smith stiff-armed him and now Edwards is a free agent. Randall Godfrey's spot could also be vacant if he follows through on his retirement plans.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">While the team won't have much of a different look next season, the same can't be said about the men coaching it. Although the main man, coach Marty Schottenheimer, will be back.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">The coaching staff will see some turnover if offensive Cam Cameron takes the Miami job and receivers coach James Lofton is hired by the Raiders.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">QUARTERBACKS: Starter - Philip Rivers. Backups - Billy Volek, Charlie Whitehurst.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">It's tough to argue with a first-year starting quarterback winning the division and directing the squad to 14 regular-season games. Rivers was sensational in his first year and has the Pro Bowl selection to prove it. Volek gives the team a solid backup with experience and Whitehurst the youngster with the live arm and a thirst to get better. But it was the play of Rivers which stands out, as he throw for 22 touchdowns and only nine interceptions and finished the season as the NFL's highest-rated quarterback when it matters most: the fourth quarter.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RUNNING BACKS: Starters - HB LaDainian Tomlinson, FB Lorenzo Neal. Backups - HB Michael Turner, FB Andrew Pinnock.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Tomlinson had a season for the ages, winning the MVP and setting numerous NFL records. He has etched his name alongside those of the best ever. Tomlinson's 31 touchdowns and nine straight 100-yard rushing games was the stuff of legends. Neal continues to provide the key lead block that Tomlinson follows on countless occasions. Turner might be the best backup in the league and could start for a number of other clubs. He's going to become a restricted free agent, but it's doubtful the Chargers would let him get away.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">TIGHT ENDS: Starter - Antonio Gates. Backups - Brandon Manumaleuna, Ryan Krause.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Gates again proved to be the gold standard at his position and was rewarded with All-Pro status. Manumaleuna was a bit of a surprise as he was brought in for his blocking, but his soft hands resulted in three TD receptions. Krause seldom played and didn't win over any front-office friends with his DUI arrest late in the year.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters - Eric Parker, Keenan McCardell. Backups - Vincent Jackson, Kassim Osgood, Malcom Floyd, Az-Zahir Hakim, Greg Camarillo.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Parker and McCardell were decent, but where's the scoring production? Both went the entire year minus a touchdown catch. The tank could be running low on the veteran McCardell, as he disappeared down the stretch as the team went with Jackson instead in key situations. Jackson likely starts next year. Floyd was a red-zone force with three touchdown catches before getting hurt and landing on IR.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters - LT Marcus McNeill, LG Kris Dielman, C Nick Hardwick, RG Mike Goff, RT Shane Olivea. Backups - T Roman Oben, C/G Scott Mruczkowski, C/G Cory Withrow, T Cory Lekkerkerker.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Solid play here was among the reasons the Chargers had the highest-scoring team in the league. McNeill was great in his rookie year, and along with the reliable Hardwick, is headed to the Pro Bowl. Dielman might have been the best of the bunch, and the team is trying to bring him back with a long-term deal. Olivea was fine. Oben delivers depth and experience. Among the other backups, the team likes Mruczkowski the most.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters - DE Luis Castillo, NT Jamal Williams, DE Igor Olshansky. Backups - DE Derreck Robinson, DE Jacques Cesaire, NT Ryon Bingham, DT Brandon McKinney.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Williams had the best season of his decorated career and heads to the Pro Bowl again. He was the reason the run defense was so good, as he consistency blew up plays so the linebacker could zero in on ball-carries. Castillo had seven sacks, but missed six games with an ankle sprain - he's an emerging star. Olshansky is a run-stuffer and does a good job in a limited role. Cesaire supplies a push up field and Bingham could eventually replace Williams some day.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">LINEBACKERS: Starters - OLB Shawne Merriman, ILB Donnie Edwards, ILB Randall Godfrey, OLB Shaun Phillips. Backups - ILB Tim Dobbins, ILB Stephen Cooper, ILB Matt Wilhelm, OLB Carlos Polk, OLB Marques Harris.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Merriman led the league in 17 sacks despite missing four games with a steroids suspension; he is a stud. Edwards led the team in tackles for the fifth straight year, but is headed out of town - GM A.J. Smith doesn't like him. Godfrey was productive, but is considering retirement after 11 years. Phillips also was a force on passing downs, collecting 11.5 sacks. Look for Cooper and Wilhelm to possibly replace Godfrey and Edwards next seasons.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters - LCB Quentin Jammer, RCB Drayton Florence, SS Marlon McCree, FS Terrence Kiel. Backups - CB Antonio Cromartie, CB Cletis Gordon, CB Steve Gregory, FS Bhawoh Jue, SS Clinton Hart.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Much improvement here, due in part to the stout pass rush the Chargers delivered in leading the league with 61 sacks. Jammer had a solid year, although his spotty game against the Pats will long be remembered; ditto Florence. McCree supplied leadership and direction to this group after being signed as a free agent. Kiel has big-time issues after being charged on five felony drug counts and could be gone. Hart would be a viable replacement.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">SPECIAL TEAMS: K Nate Kaeding, P Mike Scifres, LS David Binn, PR Eric Parker, KR Michael Turner.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Kaeding had the best season ever for a Chargers kicker and is Pro Bowl-bound. Scifres was a weapon with his impressive net return average of 38.2 yards. Turner averaged 26.5 yards on kick returns; Parker averaged 9.5 on punts. Specialist Kassim Osgood was rewarded for his play with a Pro Bowl invitation.</p>
     

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