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Super Bowl or bust for Bolts: USA TODAY

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by JAMMER, Jul 22, 2008.

  1. JAMMER

    JAMMER BoltTalker

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    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/chargers/2008-07-22-organization-report_N.htm

    By Tom Pedulla, USA TODAY
    Super Bowl or bust.
    That has to be the mentality for the San Diego Chargers, who look to have the horsepower to win it all after coming off their first playoff wins since the franchise's 1994 Super Bowl run and reaching the AFC Championship Game last season.

    Superstar running back LaDainian Tomlinson recognizes the magnitude of the challenge ahead and eagerly embraces it.

    "Our process is to always try to be better than we were last year," he says. "With that said, we've got to go one step further, and hopefully that will be winning the championship."


    ORGANIZATION REPORTS: In-depth visits with all 32 teams
    Tomlinson and his teammates have not forgotten the anguish that accompanied the end of a bittersweet 2007 season. After backup quarterback Billy Volek led them to a fourth-quarter touchdown that provided a 28-24 upset of the Indianapolis Colts and moved them within one victory of the Super Bowl, the battered Chargers generated only four field goals in a 21-12 loss to the New England Patriots.

    Quarterback Philip Rivers played the AFC Championship Game with a sheared knee ligament while Tomlinson aggravated a knee injury and lasted two series. He yearns to make up for the missed opportunity.

    "It makes you hungry once you get a taste of what it's like getting that far — hungry and motivated going into the season," Tomlinson says. "I think it has added a sense of motivation and a sense of desperation to get back to that point and get it done."

    Getting it done means another huge effort from Tomlinson, whose 1,474 yards allowed him to become the 12th back in NFL history to pound out consecutive rushing titles. But he will have to wreak havoc without Michael Turner, a backup whose contributions he always readily acknowledged. Turner left as a free agent to shoulder the load for the Atlanta Falcons.

    General manager A.J. Smith moved aggressively to fill that void. He traded up to select versatile running back Jacob Hester from LSU in the third round of the draft. Second-year coach Norv Turner eagerly awaits the start of training camp to see more of Hester, who can play tailback and fullback.

    "He's a versatile player. He's a good receiver," Turner says. "I believe he's going to be a real good blocker once we get the pads on."

    But much depends on Rivers' complete return to health. He sparked the eight-game winning streak that allowed the Chargers to go from a 5-5 mark to the brink of the Super Bowl, fashioning a 98.2 passer rating during that stretch.

    Rivers worked extremely hard during the offseason to recover from surgery on the joint in hopes of returning to that high level of play.

    "The toughest part for me is grinding on the same things day in and day out. It gets monotonous a little bit," he says of his lengthy rehabilitation. "But it will pay off for me come training camp and the season."

    Rivers' receiving corps is loaded. Antonio Gates, who's coming back from a dislocated toe that required surgery, is as good as it gets at tight end. Chris Chambers made a team-high 51 catches after he arrived from the Miami Dolphins in October. Vincent Jackson seems poised for a breakthrough after generating a league-high 300 receiving yards in the postseason.

    Up front, center Nick Hardwick's ability to return from mid-March foot surgery will be another key for the two-time defending AFC West champions. He anchors an offensive line that has San Diego bidding for a seventh consecutive season with at least 2,000 yards on the ground.

    The Chargers will again look for their defense to spark much of their offense. They led the league with a plus 24 turnover ratio, helped by an unequaled 48 takeaways, which led to 128 points.

    Cornerback Antonio Cromartie has dared to mention 15 interceptions (which would be an NFL single-season record) as a goal after producing 10 of his team's 30 pickoffs … and he only started eight games in 2007.

    The organization also is excited about rookie cornerback Antoine Cason. The Arizona star won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back. "We got a guy that we think is going to be a terrific football player," Smith says. "Solid character, work ethic, production over the years. Fantastic."

    He'll only burnish a pass defense that sacked opposing quarterbacks a league-leading 103 times the last two years.

    It's a good thing Turner wasn't sacked after his rough start. A controversial choice when he replaced Marty Schottenheimer before last season, Turner gained the players' confidence with his performance and that of his staff.

    The well-prepared Chargers set an NFL record by outscoring opponents 81-0 in the opening quarter at home. They really got it together at crunchtime with a 5-0 December.

    And Tomlinson knows the team must continue that upward trend to reach its ultimate goals.

    "We can't make it happen now. We can't make it happen that first game," he says. "It's going to be a long season, and it's a process, and we've got to get better each week."

    If the Chargers heed his advice, everything is within their grasp.

    AROUND THE FIELD IN SAN DIEGO

    • Quarterback: Philip Rivers has everything necessary to establish himself as one of the NFL's premier quarterbacks. Although he didn't lead his team to a touchdown in the AFC Championship Game, his performance will be remembered as he fought through a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee with the wind-chill temperature in single digits. The Chargers kept Billy Volek as the backup.

    • Running back: When it comes to all-around production and scoring punch, it's tough to beat LaDainian Tomlinson. Versatile Jacob Hester was drafted to help compensate for the departure of Michael Turner. Darren Sproles also provides a change of pace.

    • Wide receiver: Chris Chambers was a huge help after being acquired from the Miami Dolphins in October. The familiarity he gained with Rivers and the offense should make him a greater asset in 2008. Fourth-year wideout Vincent Jackson will emerge as a star if he continues the strides he made last season. With Chambers on board, Craig Davis, last year's first-rounder, has more time to develop.

    • Tight end: Antonio Gates was slowed late last year by a toe injury, which could linger. When he is at full strength, no tight end in the game is better. Scott Chandler could start if Gates isn't ready in Week1. Brandon Manumaleuna is versatile enough to also line up in the backfield.

    • Offensive line: Center Nick Hardwick faces a long road back from foot surgery. Jeremy Newberry was signed to a one-year deal to ease the pressure on Hardwick's return. Left tackle Marcus McNeill comes off his second Pro Bowl in two seasons. Guards Kris Dielman and Mike Goff are extremely dependable. Jeromey Clary and L.J. Shelton will vie to start on the right side.

    • Defensive line: Three quality starters return in ends Igor Olshansky and Luis Castillo and Pro Bowl nose tackle Jamal Williams. However, Williams' ability to produce over a full season is a concern as he begins his 11th year.

    • Linebacker: Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips provide a dynamic combo outside. Opposing quarterbacks must account for fast and agile Merriman on every snap. It will not help that inside linebacker Stephen Cooper, the team's leading tackler, must miss the first four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy; Derek Smith will fill in. More is expected from a healthy Anthony Waters in his second season.

    • Secondary: San Diego features a rising star at cornerback in Antonio Cromartie. Quentin Jammer is the other half of a top-shelf duo. The Chargers replaced Drayton Florence at the nickel position by drafting Antoine Cason. Clinton Hart will pair with promising sophomore free safety Eric Weddle.

    • Special teams: Another area of strength. Punter Mike Scifres' 46.1-yard average ranked second in team history. He nailed 36 punts inside the 20, second most in the NFL. Kicker Nate Kaeding responded to the pressure of the AFC Championship Game by converting all four of his field goal attempts at the New England Patriots. Return man Sproles poses a constant threat.

    • Coaching staff: Norv Turner withstood a difficult start in 2007 to justify the confidence the organization showed in him. He kept his players believing in his system and staff after three losses in the first four games. That said, he must prove he can win the big one.

    • Outlook: With Tomlinson at the top of his game and Rivers coming into his own, falling a game shy of the Super Bowl again simply won't be enough for a Chargers team primed to win it all. The window of opportunity doesn't stay open for long in the parity-driven NFL. The time is now.
     
  2. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

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    Tampa won their Super Bowl in San Diego.

    Time for San Diego to win their Super Bowl in Tampa.

    :tup:
     
  3. megold0715

    megold0715 Well-Known Member

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    AGREED wouldnt that rock
     
  4. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    I wouldn't care if they won it in Toledo's Mud Hen Park, as long as they won it.
     
  5. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    Hell yeah - the time IS now. I can't see how we could hardly be much stronger, except perhaps in the trenches. Still, if we can stay healthy & have a few new guys step up, we have a damn good opportunity to win it all this year.

    Here's to hoping that we get to punk the Plowboys in Tampa!!!! :icon_toast:
     
  6. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

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    You are giving the Plowboys too much credit.

    I hope they fall on their faces again. Imagine the Godzilla-like tantrums that Jerry Jones will have if that happens. :lol:
     
  7. BOLTS4LIFE

    BOLTS4LIFE Banned Banned

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    Anything less than the Super Bowl title will be a failure!!! :yes:
     
  8. PowderLove

    PowderLove Former Mod, Current Slacker

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    A nice write up, doesn't mention (not once!!!) Rivers speaking his mind, which I get sick hearing and reading about.

    I don't feel that his jawing at people/players has a negative impact on his play on the field, otherwise he wouldn't have reached this level.
     
  9. BlueandGold

    BlueandGold The Oracle

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    Just don't give up halfway through the season this time :icon_tease:
     
  10. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

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    Some people MUST give up halfway through otherwise they feel out of sorts. :lol:
     
  11. BOLTS4LIFE

    BOLTS4LIFE Banned Banned

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    LOL. No need to. We won't start out 5-5 and look like a bunch of lost children on the field.

    Like when I went to the Denver game in 2006, most fans I talked to don't really care for Shanahan. They credit Elway, Davis and players like that for back to back Super Bowl titles.
    Then look at the 94' 49ers. How much credit would you give to Sanders? You think they couldn't do it with someone else?

    BOTTOM LINE... Those two teams were so good that didn't need coaching.
    Last season, the players learned to coach themselves!!! :bolt: :yes:

    I've ALWAYS believed in the players. After week 10, we saw that All Norv has to do is stand there and pretend he's doing something. :yes:
     
  12. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    I think maybe it took the players that long to figure out what Norval was actually doing. After ten games, they had their collective "DOH"!
     
  13. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

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    It them until the bye week to have faith.

    The Bolts averaged 22.58 ppg before the bye week.

    27.5 ppg after the bye week.
     
  14. BOLTS4LIFE

    BOLTS4LIFE Banned Banned

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    Marty gave the players the mentoring, schooling, and development they needed to coach themselves. Now they can do it.
     
  15. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    Horse ****. They showed last year that they still need a hand at the tiller. If Marty had instilled all of this in them, why did they perform the way that they did early in the season? They needed to jive with the new coaching staff & learn their way of implementing the team's talents. Most of these guys know how to keep themselves fit, how to study film & the playbook, & how to play the game, but they still need coaching.

    You just don't want to give Norv any credit for a good season.
     
  16. BOLTS4LIFE

    BOLTS4LIFE Banned Banned

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    And where did they learn that from? We started this era with a lot of young and inexperience guys but that is no longer the issue.

    They started out the way they did last season because they realized that they have to coach themselves and it was something to get used to.

    I agree that they needed a new coaching staff. Simply because playoffs is not one of Marty's strong points but there is a reason why the players still like him. Ever give that a thought?

    Had we started this era with Norv as HC, it would have been a disaster!!!
     
  17. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    Never said Marty wasn't a good coach, but he didn't leave the players in a position to coach themselves. Just because the players still like him doesn't mean that he left them in a situation where they can coach themselves, either. Studying film, learning the playbook, etc. are marks of a professional, but they're not a substitute for coaching, only a necessary skill set.

    Even at a professional level, players need coaching. If they didn't, the coaches wouldn't have jobs.

    Again - you just don't want to give Norv any credit for a good season. You have no idea where we would have gotten with Norv instead of Marty. It's all speculation - none of us will ever know that answer.

    And if there are players who still like Marty, so what? I'm sure that there are plenty of players who still like & respect former coaches. Doesn't mean that they don't need their current coaches.
     
  18. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    Marty might have taught them discipline, but that is a long way off from self coaching. There is absolutely no way that any group other than very small ones can function without a leader, be that a coach, chairman of the board, teacher or manager. Coordination at the level of an NFL team requires a coach, in this case at the moment it's Norval. If you want an example of how a group functions without leader, just reference the fate of utopian communities. Even anarchist groups pick a leader.

    Marines are the most highly trained ordinary troops in the military, and leadership is considered the key to the proper functioning of even the smallest units. If leaders become casualties, it devolves to the chain of command. If ALL the leadership is eliminated, they choose a leader from among themselves if there is time, or a natural leader emerges by sudden consensus bred of familiarity.

    I served on a submarine. Everyone was cross trained to do almost every other job aboard the boat, even the lowest ranked enlisted man, once qualified, could take the bridge and maneuver the boat. Even at that, everybody new that without someone functioning in command, we were in deep doo doo if we wanted to really go anywhere to do anything.

    Considering the intricate nature of running an NFL team through a game, a self coaching team has no hope of success. Even the smartest and most talented of NFL players start at the lower rungs if they go into coaching. Even the Philadelphia Philharmonic couldn't put on a concert without a conductor. Even the Kronos Quartet has a leader.
     
  19. BOLTS4LIFE

    BOLTS4LIFE Banned Banned

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    I know you didn't say that but I do believe that he left the players in position to coach themselves and they've shown that they can.

    Yes, they still need coaching but when the team is that good, how big of the contribution is a coach to the team?
    Like I mentioned above, do you think the 94' 49ers couldn't have done it without George Seifert?
    Do you think Barry Switzer was the reason for the Cowboys 95 Super Bowl title?

    If you wonder how we would have done if we brought Norv in as HC in the beginning of this era... look at the 85-90 Redskins and you'll get your answer.

    When players respect a former coach, the question is "do they respect him as a person, coach, or both." In this case, it appears to be "both."

    Most people like Rich Kotite but that doesn't mean they want him as their coach. :lol:
     

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