Things To Do

While the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs focus on getting to the Super Bowl, the San Diego Chargers turn their attention to the off season. Possible coaching staff changes, tough personnel decisions and the first pick in the draft are subjects atop the "things to do" list...

Coaching Staff Changes

Marty may have foreshadowed a bit when asked about staff changes: "our teachers(coaches) need to do a better job of communicating(what is being taught)". Word of any changes could come as early as Friday. Speculation is that Dale Lindsey will be out as defensive coordinator. If that is the case there will be many qualified replacements:

Dave McGinnis- He has experience as a defensive coordinator and his animated style would fit well with the young charger defense. McGinnis coaches from the heart and while in Arizona, really carried a knife to the gunfight that is the NFL.

Ted Cottrell- Interviewed for the Chargers head coaching position two seasons ago. Former Jets defensive coordinator has ties with AJ Smith. His Jets defense relied on more of a bend but don't break style, ranking 8th in the league in points allowed(17.9/g) while ranking 21st in yardage allowed(332.4/g). Cottrell was fired this week.

Dick Jauron- His teams in Chicago over achieved, a credit to his coaching ability. A former defensive coordinator under Tom Coughlin, Jauron's disciplined style might be the ticket for Marty's disciplined approach.

Gunther Cunningham- Currently asst. head/linebackers coach for the Titans. His ties to Schottenheimer may put him at the top of the list. While in Kansas City, Cunningham coordinated some potent defenses under Schottenheimer. He is fiery and would bring a more aggressive approach to the defense.

Personnel Decisions

Lots of tough ones to make here and too many to list them all. One of the big one's being what to do with Marcellus Wiley and his inflated salary. Another restructure would be the logical choice. Wiley under achieved this season posting just 3 sacks. Jamal Williams' second season back from injury coupled with upgrades along the line should help increase Wiley's production next year. It's easy to forget that Wiley posted 13 sacks in his first season with the bolts. The talent is there.

Underachieving has been the theme for recent free agent signings. Tim Dwight and Stephen Alexander are examples of no bang for the buck. The two oft injured players combined for a whopping 14 catches with no touchdowns this season. With the emergence of TE Antonio Gates and the obvious need for a legitimate #2 receiver, Dwight and Alexander have to be pondering their future in lightning bolts.

Drew Brees'struggles in his second season as a starter leave Marty and company with another tough decision. When asked about Brees' performance Marty responded: "He didn't play to the level that he expected nor to the level that I expected". Brees ranked 29th in the league with a QB rating of 67.5 while throwing 11 TD's and 15 INT's. Competition will be brought in to challenge him for the starters spot. Marty did give him a vote of confidence: "I still think Drew Brees can be a winning quarterback in this league." But can he be a winning quarterback for the San Diego Chargers?

Upgrades at middle linebacker and along the defensive line are glaring needs going into the off season. Zeke Moreno plays hard and has some value but his lack of size and speed hurt the team at times. Matt Wilhelm could be the wild card at middle linebacker. His size and talent intrigues but his mysterious rookie campaign leaves things unsettled. Free agency could go along way in filling the hole at right defensive end. Adrian Dingle plays the position reasonably well but has more value as a back up. Grant Winstrom, who is due for free agency, has the type of motor and passion for football that could rub off on Marcellus Wiley and the rest of the defense.

The offensive line will also be keeping AJ up at night. Damion McIntosh, Kelvin Garmon, and Solomon Page's contracts are up. The team has some interest in retaining McIntosh who can be a devastating run blocker but struggles against good pass rushers. Durability is a concern as he never seems to be able to finish a season healthy. If he seeks a big contract he will have to find it elsewhere. Garmon, much like McIntosh, excels in the run game but struggles in pass protection. The status of his return is in question with the expected return of Toniu Fonoti. There is some interest in resigning Page(if the price is right). He fits best as a guard or swing man.

Vaughn Parker is progressing from his injury and brings great value. His cap number is high but he wants to retire a Charger. A restructure is not out of the question. Parker is solid and his leadership and versatility are appreciated qualities. He'd make a good insurance policy.

Marty said that a number of players played "reasonably well". By name he mentioned Ladanian Tomlinson, Cory Raymer, Lorenzo Neal and Donnie Edwards.

The Draft

Offensive tackle, defensive line, middle linebacker, wide receiver, kicker and quarterback. The Chargers have many needs and yes, a signal caller is one of them. A golden opportunity presents itself in the form of Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger. Have the Chargers recovered from the disaster that was Ryan Leaf? Or will they get gun shy and trade away a chance to get footballs most coveted commodity? The key to this organizations recovery from the depths of darkness lie in the hands of AJ Smith.

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