Foley ready for more than Houston

Steve Foley wasn't sad to leave the Houston Texans. His revival is occurring in San Diego after six years and two organizations. Forty-two tackles is his season high. He has played in the 3-4 defense before and is now the leader of the Chargers defense – and a full-time starter to boot.

When he signed with San Diego, the Chargers confirmed their switch to the 3-4 defense.

Steve Foley was the first signee by the team, a telling tale of the importance the team placed on him. While he wallowed as a backup, the Chargers saw him as a starter in their revamped front seven. Foley was tabbed as a starting outside linebacker.

At the time, many thought it was just to please the newest addition to the squad. Throughout training camp and preseason, Foley not only met expectations, he exceeded them.

The fire in his belly was made possible by the chance. A chance to start and he wasn't willing to let it go.

"Just to know that there is someone out there that believes in me and my abilities and believes that I still have plenty left in the tank and plenty to offer the younger guys and older guys," Foley explained of his coming to San Diego from Houston.

He has made his presence known to his fellow mates and the coaching staff.

Based on his preseason diagnostics alone it has been apparent that his play will be crucial to the season.

"Steve is an integral part of this 3-4 defense," Schottenheimer acknowledged.

As an outside linebacker, Foley will be called upon to rush the passer and provide containment on the outside, two areas the team lacked discipline and talent in last year.

Facing his old team this week, Foley is excited to be back in a defense that will utilize his strengths.

"We got away from (the 3-4) a little while in Houston," Foley said. "Coming in as a linebacker – that is a linebackers dream."

As for his return to Houston:

"I am really looking forward to it," Foley said.

"What we are going to do is give him a chance to go after the quarterback quite a bit of the time," Schottenheimer admitted with a rare twinkle in his eye.

He is the bread and butter of this defense. Along with the other linebackers that dot the roster, he is being counted on to be a difference maker.

Unfortunately, it is not so simple. Everyone has responsibilities and the team – even after a semi-successful preseason – has yet to learn all of the tricks of the scheme.

There is no doubt that the 3-4 brings excitement to the staleness that has followed the Chargers for years. But that aggressiveness can come at a price. If the rest of the parts are not playing to the level of a few, it could throw the defense in shambles.

"I remember when I first got into the league, Coach Dick Labeau was my Defensive Coordinator. It was something he said, ‘To really learn the 3-4 defense, it is going to take you at least two years to really get it down where you wont have to worry about it till you can go over it in your sleep and have it down to a T.'"

Now everyone knows the plan doesn't take place until next year. Perhaps they will surprise instead of disappoint. If any year they could accomplish something without expectations it would be 2004.

Denis Savage can be reached at denis@sandiegosports.net

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