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Smith busy with how to revamp team

Discussion in 'Latest Chargers News & Headlines' started by robdog, Feb 15, 2006.

  1. robdog

    robdog Code Monkey Staff Member Administrator

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    Source: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2006/02/15/sports/scholfield/23_17_192_14_06.txt">North County Times</a>

    <img width="269" height="178" alt="AJ SMith" id="image1933" src="http://bolttalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/02/agsmithwtchplayers_300x200.jpg" />

    By Steve Scholfield

    Dealing with football doesn't stop for A.J. Smith once the season is over.

    The Chargers' general manager has been busy since the 2005 campaign ended on Dec. 31 against Denver.

    "I'm just trying to figure out how to get us into postseason play," Smith said Tuesday.
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    The Chargers' 9-7 record was not good enough to make the playoffs, which has Smith reviewing every facet of the team.

    "We didn't get it done, and that is all that matters," he said. "I'm extremely disappointed that, as talented as we are, this football team wasn't given the opportunity to get into the postseason and make a run for it."

    In the coming weeks, he'll have to make some important decisions about the current roster and players available via free agency. He'll get an idea of what the college draft holds for him at the NFL combine, which begins a week from today in Indianapolis.

    The club has nine picks in the college draft that takes place April 29-30. That includes two picks in both the sixth round and the seventh round.

    Of immediate concern, however, is whether to place the franchise tag on quarterback Drew Brees. The league's deadline for that decision is a week from Thursday.

    As is his policy, Smith does not comment on ongoing business, but you can be sure this is one of Smith's easier decisions. They will certainly put the franchise tag on Brees for one obvious reason: He is the admired, recognized leader of this football team.

    And can we stop with the unsubstantiated talk about trading backup quarterback Philip Rivers?

    "I don't know how many times I have to say it, we aren't trading Philip Rivers," Smith said.

    In reviewing the season, Smith noted the club's inability to win at home. The Chargers were 4-4 at home, 5-3 on the road and won just one of their last four games.

    "I don't know of any championship teams that drop four home games," Smith said. "I haven't done the research, but I think champions usually have a higher percentage of winning a home, like 7-1 or 6-2.

    "We didn't get that done. Now, we shocked a lot of people by doing pretty good on the road (5-3) and had some pretty remarkable success in some tough places. And that is a good thing. But when you turn around and don't get it done at home, what it does is balance it out."

    There is something Smith and the Chargers learned from Pittsburgh's Super Bowl victory?

    "Go to postseason play, period. Get it done," Smith said. "At one point, they were 7-5 and down and out, and everyone said they were finished. The reason they are world champions is because somehow, some way, they got into postseason play. If you get to the postseason, you are alive. You are breathing. Just get there."

    That'll be something he'll be preaching to the Chargers over and over again next season. Those first 16 games only matter if you make the playoffs and advance in the playoffs.

    "Pittsburgh was 15-1 the previous year and didn't win it," Smith said.

    Based on his success here, Smith knows how to identify good players. While you'll see some roster movement this year, it might not be dramatic. Smith may already have the stars of tomorrow under contract.

    "My philosophy is to identify talent from within before going outside," Smith said.

    Since the end of the season, he has handed out new contracts to defensive tackle Jacques Cesaire, wide receiver Kassim Osgood, safety Clinton Hart, and linebacker Carlos Polk.

    Chris Dielman, an unrestricted free agent, has been tendered a contract, Smith said. The other unrestricted players who could walk away are Pro Bowl special teams player Andrew Pinnock, linebacker Matt Wilhelm, linebacker Stephen Cooper and Brees.

    Smith modestly challenged himself by saying, "I need to do a better job of bringing in more players."

    It's hard for me to believe he'll do better than last year's first round picks ---- linebacker Shawne Merriman, the NFL defensive rookie of the year, and defensive end Luis Castillo.

    But go for it, A.J. The more you do, the better the Chargers will be.
     

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