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Inside Slant - 2/17/07

Discussion in 'San Diego Chargers Hall of Champions' started by robdog, Feb 17, 2007.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    <p class="inside-copy">Source: <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/home.htm" target="_blank">USA Today</a></p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><img src="http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060301/images/sports280.jpg" title="Marty Schottenheimer and AJ Smith could not " alt="Marty Schottenheimer and AJ Smith could not " align="right" height="194" width="232" /> The parting was far from sweet. In fact, it bathed the Chargers in the worst possible light.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">Citing a "dysfunctional relationship" and an "untenable" situation, Chargers president Dean Spanos fired coach Marty Schottenheimer.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Schottenheimer, who had no relationship with general manager A.J. Smith, was let go with one year left on his contract. This surprising move came about four weeks after Spanos and Smith assured Chargers fans Schottenheimer would return for the 2007 season.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Instead, the Chargers are searching for a new coach despite Schottenheimer leading them to two AFC West titles in three years, and their best regular season last year at 14-2.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> But it was the Chargers' disappointing loss to the Patriots in last month's divisional playoff game which caused some of the team's brass to reconsider Schottenheimer coming back.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Still, he avoided what could have been an emotional discharge at that time, only to get the ax in February.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "I still say that at the end of the season, keeping everything status quo or with minimal changes, both A.J. and I believe that that was the best chance for us to succeed this year," Spanos said. "I still believe that. Unfortunately, since then there have been significant changes to our coaching staff. There has been a process that we have been going through in the last month that both A.J. and Marty have not agreed upon in the process with how this has worked with what we've been trying to accomplish.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "You can say it's dysfunctional or whatever you want, but it hasn't worked. I think that's what precipitated the change and the need for the change."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Schottenheimer, who took the high road in this embarrassing debacle, said Spanos was on the mark.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "Dean identified it pretty accurately," Schottenheimer said. "We're in a very untenable situation. I think he made a decision that was tough for him, but he felt it had to be made.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> "We had five good years here and I feel very, very confident that this organization and this football team is better than the one when I got here."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> But what lies ahead for a franchise which many picked to advance to next season's Super Bowl?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Among the candidates to already interview are defensive coordinators Ron Rivera (Bears) and Rex Ryan (Ravens), offensive coordinator Norv Turner (49ers) and Mike Singletary, the 49ers' assistant head coach.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Early indications are among the others to be considered are Seahawks secondary coach Jim Mora, Jr., and Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>NOTES, QUOTES</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Mike Singletary, the 49ers' assistant head coach, has never been a head coach at any level. But that doesn't concern the former Bears linebacker and Hall of Fame member. "If I hadn't played the game, if I hadn't been around the game as long as I've been around it and if I hadn't coached it for the time I've coached it in the roles I've been in, I think I might agree with that," Singletary said.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Rex Ryan, the Ravens' defensive coordinator, would be an interesting fit. He's the son of Buddy Ryan, who once cold-cocked Kevin Gilbride, a former Chargers head coach, when both were in Houston. "I think my personality might be a little different," Rex Ryan said. This was Ryan's first interview for an NFL head-coaching job.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-One familiar face on the Chargers' coaching carousel is Norv Turner, the team's offensive coordinator in 2001. A head coach with the Redskins and Raiders, Turner currently directs the 49ers' offense. "There's a comfort level for me, certainly, because I have been here and know a lot of the people involved," Turner said. "Obviously, the Chargers are an outstanding football team. The thing that strikes me and impresses me the most is that it's a very young team that is only going to continue to get better. So that part of it, in terms of the opportunity, is extremely exciting."</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera has, by his count, six head coach interviews in the past two years. So far, he has struck out. But he might get a long look here as the Chargers are bent on keeping their defense as a focal point, despite having Pro Bowlers on the opposite side of the ball in RB LaDainian Tomlinson, QB Philip Rivers, TE Antonio Gates, FB Lorenzo Neal and C Nick Hardwick.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>QUOTE TO NOTE:</strong> "The goal of this search is to find the man that can help us get where we want to go. We want candidates to have a full awareness of what's being asked of them." - GM A. J. Smith on what is expected of Marty Schottenheimer's replacement.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"><strong>STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL</strong></p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> While the focus is on replacing Marty Schottenheimer, the team is also in the market for a defensive coordinator among other holes on its coaching staff.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Plus, there is mystery surrounding Clarence Shelmon's promotion to offensive coordinator in the wake of Cam Cameron's departure. Might the new head coach want his own offensive coordinator? Or might GM A.J. Smith force Shelmon on a coach so the team - which must pay Schottenheimer nearly $4 million next year - can save some dough?</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">&nbsp;</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">TEAM NEEDS/OFF-SEASON STRATEGY</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> The Chargers' biggest need is trying to keep two standout players from last season.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> LG Kris Dielman had a sensational season, as the team often ran his direction in directing LaDainian Tomlinson to an NFL record in touchdowns and points. But the negotiations have hit a roadblock and many feel the Chargers will let him walk as an unrestricted free agent.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> Another key player the Chargers will work hard in keeping his OLB Shaun Phillips. He started in place of the wounded Steve Foley and responded with 11.5 sacks, second on the team only to Shawne Merriman's NFL-high 17. No way the Chargers let Phillips slip away, especially with him being an exclusive free agent.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> 1. Strong safety: Not only was Terrence Kiel merely OK, he was charged with five felony drug counts. It appears he will miss jail time, but it's likely Smith will send him packing and try to upgrade the position.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> 2. Wide receiver: Keenan McCardell tumbled from being the No. 1 wide out to an afterthought at season's end. Eric Parker, the No. 2 wide receiver, had a terrible game in the playoffs against the Patriots. Attention is needed here.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy"> 3. Left guard: If the Chargers can't get on the same page as their talented, soon-to-be-unrestricted free agent Kris Dielman, this position will need some serious attention.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">&nbsp;</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">MEDICAL WATCH: QB Philip Rivers is still mending from his sprained foot. But it's believed he won't be required to undergo surgery.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB Darren Sproles (leg) will be ready for the offseason workouts.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LB Steve Foley (shot three times) isn't able to run yet and it's unlikely he will ever play again.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LT Leander Jordan (concussion) should be fine for offseason workouts.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Malcom Floyd (leg) should be ready for the May minicamp.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-TE Aaron Shea (foot) should be ready for the offseason workouts.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">&nbsp;</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">TRANSITION PLAYER: None.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RG Kris Dielman was in negotiations with the Chargers during the season, but those talks have stalled. Dielman, although not going to the Pro Bowl, was often singled out by coach Marty Schottenheimer as the line's top player.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-ILB Randall Godfrey could return, if he doesn't retire.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-ILB Donnie Edwards was the team's leading tackler in each of the past five seasons, but he won't be invited back.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-T Leander Jordan's time has likely come and gone.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LB Carlos Polk is a solid special teamer and will likely return.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Az-Zahir Hakim could come back and supply depth to a questionable wide receiving corps.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-C Cory Withrow returns at the right price; a backup to Pro Bowler Nick Hardwick.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Ryon Bingham remains in the team's plans as a backup to Pro Bowler Jamal Williams.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-TE Ryan Krause is likely out, a victim of a numbers crunch at this position.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-OLB Shaun Phillips is a solid starter and will be back as the team is hopeful of securing him to a long-term contract.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RB Michael Turner will be back as an insurance policy for LaDainian Tomlinson. However, if the right deal appeared, he could be moved in a trade.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Greg Camarillo is on the fence; team needs to upgrade this position.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-WR Malcom Floyd will be back as he proved his worth as a dynamite red-zone target with three touchdown catches.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-LB Marques Harris; the team likes his pass-rushing ability - he had three sacks last season.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-DE Derreck Robinson will likely return, but needs to prove he can stay healthy.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">-RT Cory Lekkerkerker is probably back as Shane Olivea's backup.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: None.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYERS ACQUIRED: None.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">PLAYERS LOST: None.</p>
    <p class="inside-copy">&nbsp;</p>
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