Chargers Get 3-4 Experience In Foley

Marty Schottenheimer introduced linebacker Steve Foley to the media on Thursday, the first unrestricted free agent the team signed away from another team. Schottenheimer made it clear that the San Diego Chargers would make the transition to the 3-4 defense and called Foley, "an integral part of this 3-4 defense." Ironically the announcement to move to the 3-4 defense came on March 4th, aka 3-4.

Marty Schottenheimer said his love affair with linebacker Steve Foley began when he was back with the Bengals and began his press conference with confirmation on the intent to go with a 3-4 defense, something both Schottenheimer and Wade Phillips have experience with in the past.

At 6-3, 260 pounds, Foley is built for both outside linebacker and someone who can play a rush type end position in the defense. It was what intrigued him most about coming to San Diego.

"My ability to rush the passer is one of the main reasons I am here," said Foley. "We got away from it a little while (in Houston). Getting back into this 3-4, I am really looking forward to it. Coming in as a linebacker – that is a linebackers dream."

Foley was a three-time All-Independent League player with Louisiana-Monroe from 1995-97. While he was there, he set a school record for quarterback sacks and tackles for loss.

Foley cited the coaching staff with the Chargers among the reasons for coming to San Diego. He has impressed with the lengthy history of success the staff has enjoyed and has received positive feedback from other players concerning Schottenheimer and Wade Phillips.

Schottenheimer spoke in regards to Foley as a starter at the WIL linebacker position and said he expected to see a lot of him in the Chargers revamped defense.

Whether that holds true throughout training camp will have to be monitored, but the statement surely opened a few eyes.

"We felt it was important, Wade and I and the staff, to get started on this defensive transition into the 3-4," Schottenheimer said. "Steve has considerable background (in the 3-4). What we are going to do is put him in there in the WIL linebacker position and give him a chance to go after the quarterback quite a bit of the time. We will also have him involved in pass coverage.

"He told us he is a very versatile guy."

Foley has experience in the 3-4 from stints with the Bengals and Texans and as a seven year veteran he talked about brining the winning attitude back to the Chargers.

His main focus was keeping rookies and other players focused through the offseason as a building block for the 2004 campaign.

"It is all about working – and your play in the offseason," Foley said. "I think we are going to make a big jump in winning percentage. As long as we keep each other on the right track, fans will be happy. If we come in not expecting high goals, anytime we fall short of that – I don't think that is a concern.

"Coming here and getting things changed around – that is what it is all about," Foley added. "Tremendous things can happen."

Foley is the first signing of what figures to be a totally revamped defensive front seven. Schottenheimer praised his versatility and thinks this is just the start in their transition to the 3-4.

The team seemed to have a specific role in mind when signed Foley. Whether that ends up being a "starting role" or a "rotational role" will play itself out at a later date. Expect more players with ties to this type of defense to follow in the coming weeks.

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