Down by Fourteen

The fourth quarter has again arrived in San Diego where the Chargers are off to their customary start to proceedings, playing from behind. In game or in the search for a new coach, the theme is the same, consistency. Down by 14, the Bolts look to rebound before coming up short. A feeling they are all too familiar with. So far the team has brought in just one defensive coordinator for an interview and he signed on with the Vikings. The next interview is scheduled for Thursday, Wade Phillips.

With the Senior Bowl practices set to begin next week, the Chargers don't think they will have a defensive coordinator in place.

How is that even possible? When Dale Lindsey was let go, many had not only a collective sigh of relief, but the feeling that many qualified candidates on the market this year left fans salivating.

Two weeks later, coaches are being snatched up quick. If a team wants a coach, they pursue him with fervor and come to quick resolutions. In San Diego, you get a cursory phone call and token interview.

Ted Cottrell signed with the Vikings after meeting with the Bolts Monday.

Gunther Cunningham met with the Jets on Tuesday and is the odds on favorite to land the job there.

Dave McGinnis got his phone call, but that is it. Same with Dick Jauron.

Now Greg Robinson resigned from the Chiefs. What team is more appealing to McGinnis or Jauron? Or Cunningham who was also granted permission to interview with the Chiefs?

That answer is already known. The Chiefs were 13-3 without a defense. Imagine if they had one.

The team still likes McGinnis, but he remains a head coach possibility in the short term. That is why he has not come in for an interview. Even if he does, would he risk tarnishing his reputation for the Bolts?

How long will the team wait it out?

Wade Phillips will interview with the team on Thursday. A San Diego official said Phillips will arrive on the West Coast Wednesday.

Marty Schottenheimer can ill-afford to take his time on this one. That assumes he does not want the Oakland Raiders job like everyone else, which would be a wrong assumption. Phillips has called the Raiders to express his interest in the Head Coaching position.

On the plus side, no interview has been scheduled with the Raiders, which could prompt Phillips jump at any chance to work. He plays a more aggressive 3-4 defense and it would be interesting to see what he could do to turn around the Chargers – similar to what he did in Atlanta between 2001 (30th) and 2002 (19th).

Then there is currently out of work Joe Pascale. He is at a point in his career health-wise that he wants back into coaching. He was among the most successful defensive coordinators to ever dot the San Diego landscape.

Pascale led the Chargers defense from 1997-2001. In 1998, the Chargers defense was No. 1 in the league in total defense. That season the Chargers run defense led the league by allowing an average of a meager 2.7 yards per attempt -- the lowest at that point since 1951.

In 1999, the Chargers again led the league by allowing just 3.1 yards per carry. The Chargers gave up 3.0 in 2000 and took top honors in 2001 at 3.3.

It is perhaps no mere coincidence that the defense has declined since Pascale left town. The Chargers may bring in all the candidates they want, but in reality they shouldn't be looking very far.

Kurt Schottenheimer is still on the radar. Will it surprise anyone when Kurt Schottenheimer is named the defensive coordinator?

"Detroit has told current coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer that he is free to pursue employment elsewhere," Detroit reporter and radio analyst Mike Fowler told us.

Essentially it will be a domino. Jauron will not land the Buffalo Bills job he was in the running for, given to Mike Mularkey of the Steelers, and Kurt Schottenheimer will now likely be axed with Jauron going to Detroit. Mariucci has essentially given Kurt Schottenheimer an opportunity to get out now while jobs still exist.

"What we've lacked in our coaching staff is continuity and philosophy," Mariucci said.

Sound familiar?

Yet Kurt could very well formulate the Schottenheimer trio, and we all know how well Brian and Marty have worked out so far.

Otherwise, the Chargers will turn to second-rate coordinators, possibly those who have never held a coordinator position before.

That is not necessarily a bad thing, if done right. More specifically, unlike the call to hire Dale Lindsey.

The best of the rest includes: Philadelphia linebackers coach Ron Rivera, and Baltimore secondary coach Donnie Henderson.

Down by 14, the Chargers have yet to come back. Ominous indeed.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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