Revival in San Diego

The end of the 2003 season seems a long lost adventure in the City of San Diego. Fans expressed disappointment in the team once deemed ‘their Chargers'. Talk shows buzzed in unison, calling for the firing of Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer was as consistent as a Chargers loss.

It was an off-season where expert pundits raved that the San Diego front office, headed by A.J. Smith, had done little in regards to immediately improving this once proud organization. As both Smith and Marty Schottenheimer suggested late in that 2003 season, the team would make strides……………believe in the plan and structure.

Fast forward to week-four of the 2004 NFL season, and take a look at the competitive San Diego Chargers.

Sitting at 2-2, San Diego is a team growing in confidence and continuity. Defensively, the Chargers have had some rough moments, but overall the play of the defense has been as expected. As the season progresses, this Chargers defense one with a mix of youth and veterans will improve.

For the time being, the San Diego coaching staff preaches mental preparation, consistency, and fundamentals.

"We have hurt ourselves at times with penalties, slow of improper recognition, and a lack of fulfilling our defensive responsibilities," Schottenheimer said. "The one area we are showing improvement is in our recognition and tackling. There is no excuse to be a poor-tackling team and the guys are showing signs of playing as a cohesive unit.

"There is a long ways to go before we are a good defensive football team, but if we can eliminate the mental errors, stop the big-plays, we should succeed."

Heading into the Chargers battle against the once-defeated Jacksonville Jaguars, San Diego carried the perceptive of being an average at best team, tasting success with some good luck and a rare finding of offensive being.

Inconsistency, a lack of cohesiveness, and a disbelief in the offensive philosophy all attributed to some rough days in San Diego. Under the tutelage of a veteran coach such as Schottenheimer, the notion of the game passing by the stern and persistent coach was a common belief with the ranks in Chargers camp.

"The past couple seasons have been rough around here. Losing, dealing with a head coach that is very head-strong and demanding was a considerable change. After playing on a team(s) that was either winning or competitive, losing as we have has been brutal," one anonymous player said. "Marty (Schottenheimer) has high expectations of every aspect of the way the game should be played. He isn't into individuals, it's all about a team philosophy, and that philosophy is strictly his way.

"You can argue though, he (Schottenheimer) has been successful at every stop (Cleveland, Kansas City, and Washington) throughout his career. His track-record speaks for itself."

For the record, the San Diego Chargers quickly and easily dispatched of the Jaguars on Sunday 34-21. Jumping out to an early lead, the Chargers again rode the consistent play of quarterback Drew Brees and running back LaDanian Tomlinson in front of a suddenly believing crowd at home.

Let reality strike. The San Diego Chargers are 3-2, one-game behind division leading Denver. Just maybe, the old coach that was deemed a fool such a short time ago may know a little more than anyone in San Diego could have envisioned.


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