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Inside Slant - 2/13/07

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    Source: <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm" target="_blank">USA Today</a>

    <img src="http://www.nfl.com.mx/imagerepository/schottenheimer_marty3.jpg" title="Marty Schottenheimer" alt="Marty Schottenheimer" height="188" width="360" />
    <p class="inside-copy"> In a shocking turn of event, coach Marty Schottenheimer was fired by Chargers owner Dean Spanos on Monday night.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Spanos cited a "dysfunctional situation" between Schottenheimer and general manager A.J. Smith. The fact the two had a tempestuous relationship has never been a secret, but the timing of the move is very surprising after Schottenheimer agreed last month to remain with the Chargers for at least one more year.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> It throws one of the AFC's most promising young franchises into significant turmoil, as there is no clear candidate to replace Schottenheimer. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron (Miami) and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (Dallas) have already accepted head coaching positions elsewhere in the league. Tight ends coach Rob Chudzinski left to become Cleveland's offensive coordinator, while linebackers coach Greg Manusky was hired as San Francisco's defensive coordinator.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Trying to locate a new head coach at such a late date is a dilemma Spanos acknowledged, but said it's a sacrifice he believes had to be made to "give the Chargers the best possible chance to win on the field this season." In fact, it's the coaching changes and the resulting conflict between Schottenheimer and Smith about how to fill them that apparently led to Spanos' decision.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "Our fans deserve to know what changed for me over the last month," Spanos said. "When I decided to move ahead with Marty Schottenheimer in mid-January, I did so with the expectation that the core of his fine coaching staff would remain intact. Unfortunately, that did not prove to be the case, and the process of dealing with these coaching changes convinced me that we simply could not move forward with such dysfunction between our head coach and general manager.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "In short, this entire process over the last month convinced me beyond any doubt that I had to act to change this untenable situation and create an environment where everyone at Charger Park would be pulling in the same direction and working at a championship level. I expect exactly that from our entire Charger organization in 2007."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-S Terrence Kiel pled guilty to felony and misdemeanor drug charges stemming from a Sept. 26 arrest for shipping codeine-based cough syrup from California to Texas. The plea bargain could keep Kiel out of jail, but he is still likely to face disciplinary action from the NFL. His future with the Chargers remains unclear.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-QB Philip Rivers did not go to the Pro Bowl because of a sprained foot. Rivers initially hurt his foot when it got twisted during a sack in the regular-season finale against the Cardinals. He then aggravated it during the playoff loss to the Patriots, which cost him his first Pro Bowl appearance. Philips, though, has said he will be ready for the offseason workouts that start in March.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-The Chargers lost Cam Cameron, their well-respected offensive coordinator, to the Miami Dolphins as he became their head coach.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Cameron directed a versatile and balanced unit last year that lead the league in scoring and set a team mark for points in a season. He gradually helped slay the offense known as Martyball, as the Chargers weren't strictly a run-oriented attack despite having MVP running back LaDainian Tomlinson.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Cameron was replaced by running backs coach Clarence Shelmon.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Tight ends coach Rob Chudzinski left to become the Browns' offensive coordinator. He had been in San Diego for two years. He has yet to be replaced.</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">-The Chargers assistant coaches were also offered extensions.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "My decision means that our organization will be obligated to pay the last year of Marty Schottenheimer's contract and will begin an intense search for a new head coach at this relatively late date, but these are sacrifices that I believe are necessary to give the Chargers the best possible chance to win on the field this season." - Owner Dean Spanos, announcing the firing of coach Marty Schottenheimer, who will still be paid for the final year of his contract.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></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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