Playmakers, Chargers Edition

Marty Schottenheimer finished up his player interview sessions with all 69 San Diego Chargers at 11:15 AM Tuesday morning. It is hit ritual after the year and he was happy with the "dialogue" it created. Now, Schottenheimer will turn his attention to personnel matters and shaping the Bolts for contention in 2004.

"It was a very interesting dialogue and we all recognized the disappointment of the season. I had a positive sense in regards to what possibilities lie ahead. We obviously have a lot of work to do, that is nothing new to our business."

"As the offseason begins to unfold we have a number of things we have to address starting with the personnel side of it."

Offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, quarterback and wide receiver are the areas that need upgrade. Which has the highest priority is debatable. Each has its place in the pecking order and will be a combination of draft picks and free agents.

Ok, coach, where do we start?

"I didn't go into any length about the futures because I have not really sat down and talked with our staff."

"I had a very positive sense. There are things we will need to address from a personnel standpoint, but I wasn't able to give them any specific indication nor would I since we still have to sit down and discuss it."

Well, what did you talk about with them then?

"I want to get a sense of how they thought they performed and how they will improve their performance level.

"I tried to assure them that they needn't be intimidated. Lets talk about the facts."

The facts are everyone save two to three players need to perform at a higher level. The facts are many will not be back. The fact, and echoed by the coach, is that the San Diego Chargers need playmakers.

"We need playmakers," Schottenheimer concurred. "In our game what happens is this, you assemble personnel, you coach them and then at some point you let them go and they have to go play.

"You make plays, you win games. Once the game begins the coaches have very little involvement other than changes or modifications in the gameplan. We have to find playmakers."

Where does the team start?

"Both sides of the ball. I will take playmakers on either side of the ball. I think that on defense we need playmakers.

Schottenheimer is especially concerned with the lack of turnovers created by the defense this year, and understandably so. His staple throughout his coaching career has always consisted of a solid defense that can turn the game around. With the team being down so quickly, the 2003 defense was not what he imagined.

"We need better players in certain areas, there is no doubt about that. We need playmakers. That is the term that best identifies what we need."

Schottenheimer may not have told players specifically what would go down in terms of the future, but rest assured changes are in store. By explaining the need for playmakers, he has put the team on notice.

Changes are coming.

"It is very important to find the means to take this losing mentality and turn it into a positive one."

Out with the old, bad habits and in with the new. The roster purge this season could resemble what happened in 2003. Some will be upset, but life in the NFL dictates that it will happen. Who they bring in will determine if the roster purge was successful. Last year, it was not.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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