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It was the first day of bye week, and all through the place...

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Oct 30, 2008.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

    Jun 29, 2009
    By Curtis Egan
    <em>BoltTalk Staff Writer</em>

    <a href="http://i1.chargers.com/assets/189/34388_282wh.jpg"><img class="alignright" title="Ron Rivera" src="http://i1.chargers.com/assets/189/34388_282wh.jpg" alt="" width="282" height="278" /></a>Charger fans entered the bye week of the 2008 season in despair bordering on outright rebellion. The year that was supposed to be the ‘Chargers year to take it all', one in which many media talking head had the Chargers picked to be hoisting the Lombardi in February of 2009 was off to a dismal start. Losses against teams like the Dolphins, Broncos, and Buffalo had the Chargers in a 3-5 hole at the midway point.

    Now most Charger fan's had a gleam of light, that being last season the Chargers were 5-5 at one point and were playing for the AFC Championship in January. An impressive feat to be sure, but one thing separated last season from bravado or confidence this season. That difference being the play of the Chargers Defensive unit.

    Defensive Coordinator Ted Cottrell's defensive schemes were soft and unaggressive in the beginning of 2008, only showing sparks of aggression against the Jets on Monday Night and the Patriots on Sunday Night. The Defensive unit that had led the league in sacks just two seasons ago and interceptions just last season looked like they should be playing on a blue field in Idaho.

    They did not appear to know their assignments, they did not get used to their strengths. This caused the players to be reactive, not attacking, sucking the aggression out of the team like a thirsty child attacking a juice bag.

    Now let's not dump everything at the feet of Teddy as he leaves town. Players need to understand that it is ok to wrap up the player on a tackle. The fundamentals of the defensive unit have been terrible all season long. Most games you can see the three defensive linemen lining up in the exact same spot for most of the game, trying to bull rush their way to the QB. No angles, no finesse. Just straight on, regardless of what the offensive line was doing. That was the result of poor coaching, in my honest, arm-chair coaching opinion.

    Heavy preseason favorites to win the AFC West, the 3-5 Chargers rank last in the league in passing defense and 28th in total defense, allowing 371.6 yards per game. They trail the Broncos by 1"½ games in the division. In ‘OUR' year- Unacceptable!
    Cottrell's defense also struggled this season in creating turnovers, with just 10 through eight games. In 2007, Cottrell's first year in San Diego, the team led the league with 48 takeaways.

    It was early Tuesday morning when I was e-mailing a friend and co-worker about the Saints game, when he asked ‘What can the Chargers do to fix the problems?' I replied ‘Fire the DC and get someone who will turn the defense loose.'

    It was just a short time later when I saw a post at BoltTalk.com that was titled Cottrell Fired! I could not believe the Chargers had actually pulled the trigger. They had and a bit of hope began to creep back into my injured confidence in the Chargers. Who was to replace Ted Cottrell? Ron Rivera!

    Ronald Eugene Rivera, who spent three seasons as the defensive coordinator in Chicago, now takes over as Defensive Coordinator of the San Diego Chargers. The Bears defense was known for stellar play racking up a league-leading 44 takeaways in 2006, they lead the Bears to an appearance in Super Bowl XLI.

    Rumors abound about how the fans did not like Rivera when he was the defensive Coordinator in Chicago, but all one has to do today is a simple Google search to see all the Bear's fans posting in their forums about how they wish he was still with them. The problem was not with the Fans and Rivera, it was with the Head Coach and Rivera, and we are have benefited from that.

    Chargers Head Coach Norv Turner was asked the following questions in the press conference shortly after the coaching change was announced:

    Q: Why now? Why switch defensive coordinators now?
    A: "Well the timing of it obviously is that when you have a bye you have an opportunity to spend a little more time in situations and evaluate things that you need to evaluate. Certainly if we were going to make a move this was the time to do it. We have a guy in place in Ron Rivera who has experience and I've got great confidence in him, so this was the right timing."

    Q: Was this your decision?
    A: "Ultimately we had a lot of discussion after the game. I've got to make a decision based on what's best for our football team and where we need to go and that was the decision I made. So, yes."

    Q: Are you going to stay in the 3-4?
    A: "We are a 3-4 defense, yes."

    Q: Was Ron your selection as well?
    A: "Yes."

    Q: What is it in Ron that you like?
    A: "I think that he interacts well with players, I think that he communicates extremely well. I believe that he is experienced. I think that his expectation level is very, very high and I believe that there's something to having done it and then having a feel for who you are playing and to give your guys the best chance to be successful."

    Ron Rivera was a player first, and I believe that is one of the reasons that he is considered today to be a players coach. He is know for having insight into the challenges his players face and being able to put them in situations to let them excel.

    In the 1984 NFL Draft, Rivera was selected in the second round by the Chicago Bears, becoming the first Puerto Rican/Mexican to play in the NFL. During the 1985 Season, Rivera played in Super Bowl XX, where the Bears beat the New England Patriots, 46-10. He thus became the first Puerto Rican to play on a Super Bowl Championship Team. Rivera played for the Bears for a total of nine seasons (1984-1992).

    <strong>As a Coach: </strong>
    In 1996, he became a defense quality control coach for the Bears. In 1999, Rivera was named linebackers coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. During his tenure the Eagles advanced to the NFC Championship for three consecutive seasons. He is credited with developing linebacker Jeremiah Trotter into a two-time Pro Bowl performer.

    On January 23, 2004, Rivera was named the Chicago Bears Defensive Coordinator, becoming the first Puerto Rican/ Mexican in the history of the NFL to hold such a position. In 2005, the Chicago Bears defense was second-rated in the NFL. The Bears qualified for the NFC playoffs losing in the 2nd Round to the Carolina Panthers 29-21. The 2005 season output of the Chicago Bears earned him consideration for Head Coach assignments from several NFL teams.

    In 2006, the Bears' defensive efforts failed to match the success of their 2005 season. Nevertheless, the team was still a notable presence in league, finishing with the league's third ranked and conference's top-ranked points allowed category. The defense's success earned Rivera recognition among franchises looking for new head coaches. The Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers interviewed him in January of 2007. He was a candidate for the vacant Dallas Cowboys head coaching position, a job that ultimately went to San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Rivera was named as a potential candidate to replace the fired Marty Schottenheimer in San Diego, but the job was filled by Norv Turner, the brother of fellow offensive coordinator, Ron Turner, Rivera's offensive counterpart in Chicago. After the announcement, ESPN reported that the Bears were considering letting Rivera go. This came after several other teams interviewed him, and the negotiations between his representatives and the Bears were making little progress. On February 19, 2007, it was announced that Ron Rivera's contract with the Bears would not be renewed.

    The San Diego Chargers hired Rivera as team's inside linebackers coach after he left the Bears. On October 28, 2008, Rivera was promoted to defensive coordinator with the Chargers after the team released former defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell.

    Can Rivera light a fire under a defense's *** that has not only gone out, but appears to have cold water poured on the embers of last years fire? Lets hope so.

    <strong>Drew Brees; The DC slayer:</strong>
    Does anyone wonder if it was the loss to the New Orleans Saints that was the final straw on the back of Cottrells camel? AJ Smith and Drew Brees had a public and well publicized split two years ago, and anyone that thinks this was just another game for Drew is kidding themselves. Could it be that it was more than a game for AJ?

    Is it possible that seeing the QB he let go to free agency cut up his team not only lead to the decision but made it easy? Would the change have been made if it were Cutler or Pennigton who shredded the Chargers defensive unit? No one can say. But in my opinion Ted Cotrell looked bewildered on the sideline during the Saints game. Befuddled as the Chargers defense could not make the stops needed to get Philip Rivers and company back out on the field.

    I for one think it was an extra squeeze of fresh cut lemon in the wound for AJ to have Brees be the QB who lead the opposing team to a victory over the Chargers before the break. If my guess is correct, and that was a deciding factor, then I say thank you Drew.

    <strong>So Can Ron Rivera help the Chargers turn the season around?</strong>
    I say emphatically YES!

    You just have to watch the replays of some of this season's early game. The secondary played 10, 15, even 20 yards off the receivers. Very few times can you see the safeties being brought up to blitz the passer. The Chargers last two games were without a single sack. In those games the passers were able to pass for over 250 yards of offense. The Chargers did make the Passer move, typically it was up into a solid pocket that allowed them more time to survey the field and complete the pass.

    The linebackers were ill used at best. Shaun Phillips was dropped into coverage seemingly more than he was allowed to rush the passer. On top of that it is my belief that the Chargers players were unclear on what their assignments were and what coverage's they should be playing at any given time. You have to admit, when fans dub a defense the ‘Run Away' Defense, it is not a good thing.

    The Chargers had to make the change to try and salvage ‘their season'. It is never a happy thing when a coaching change is made during the season, but to hear interviews with the players they seem to feel that this could be a positive thing.
    I can't disagree at this point. If Rivera can light that fire under our defense and have the players attacking in an aggressive manner again, then we can take 7 of the last 8 and win the division.

    That is my take. What is yours?

    <a href="http://www.xxsportsradio.com/common/global_audio/40/2789.mp3" target="_blank">Shaun Phillips interview</a> - XX1090 audio

    <a href="http://www.xxsportsradio.com/common/global_audio/40/2781.mp3" target="_blank">Olshanski's interview</a> - XX1090 audio

    <a href="http://www.bolttalk.net/forums/showthread.php?t=16175" target="_blank"><em><strong>Discuss this article.</strong></em></a>

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