2004 San Diego Chargers Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> Marty Schottenheimer (165-113-1) <br><br> <b> Last Season's Record: </b> 4-12 (4th place in AFC West, Last in Conference) <br><br> <b> Last Play Off Appearance:</b> 1995 <br><br> <b> Key matchup(s): </b> vs. Oakland, October 31, 2004 (Halloween)

09/12/04 @Houston
09/19/04 NY Jets
09/26/04 @Denver
10/03/04 Tennessee
10/10/04 Jacksonville
10/17/04 @Atlanta
10/24/04 @Carolina
10/31/04 Oakland
11/07/04 New Orleans
11/21/04 @Oakland
11//28/04 @Kansas City
12/05/04 Denver
12/12/04 Tampa Bay
12/19/04 @Cleveland
12/26/04 @Indianapolis
01/02/05 Kansas City
Running back LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the San Diego Chargers again will have to carry the Chargers.  The team has very limited play makers on offense, and defense and how the team will improve last years standings is a question many are wondering.
Getty Images/Donals Miralle
 Star Power: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, 4th year, 5-10, 221 lbs.

Notable Additions: Steve Foley (Houston), Randall Godfrey (Seattle), Mike Goff (Cincinnati), Roman Oben (acquired via trade with Tampa Bay)

Notable Subtractions: David Boston (traded to Miami), Marcellus Wiley, eight of eleven offensive linemen from 2003

Notable Returnees: Donnie Edwards, Lorenzo Neal, Antonio Gates

Offensive Overview: Drew Brees will start the season as the starter with rookie quarterback Philip Rivers waiting in the wings. The staple of a Marty Schottenheimer run offense is ball control and LaDainian Tomlinson is a premiere back in the league. He will get his yards despite defenses stacking the box. Brees has not been able to relieve the pressure up front with a downfield passing game in the past but has looked like a new man this year. Still the offense will go only as far as Tomlinson can take them. He was their top receiver from a year ago with 100 receptions and Antonio Gates is the only other weapon they have from a receiver standpoint.

Defensive Overview: The Chargers will make the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4. Their linebackers are athletic enough for the move but there will be some struggles in learning the new scheme. More pressure up front will help the young secondary which was torched for 36 touchdowns a year ago. Laden with draft picks that came out of the top three rounds, the secondary has to make strides for this team to improve. They favor the bump-and-run and can make big plays if there is finally pressure up front to force the issue.

Special Teams Overview: Everyone is new. Mike Scifres takes over the punting for the departed Darren Bennett and in preseason had just one of his 15 punts returned. Third round pick Nate Kaeding will handle placekicking duties and hopes to bring some distance that Steve Christie was incapable of. Undrafted rookie Wes Welker made a splash in preseason and will handle the return duties. He returned an NCAA record eight for touchdowns at his alma mater, Texas Tech.

The San Diego Chargers will win five games with Drew Brees under center. They own one of the toughest schedules in the league and do not have the talent on offense to compete in an offensive driven National Football League.

TheInsiders.com 2004 NFL Football Preview
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