Chargers planning for loss

Who would be the bigger loss for the Chargers? Losing Cam Cameron or Wade Phillips?

The question, we fear, is multifaceted. There are other factors to consider hidden in the question.

And you thought this was going to be easy.

Cam Cameron file:
Led the team to the number five scoring offense in the league, a year after they placed third in the NFL in scoring.
Ranked tenth overall in yards – same as last season.
Ranked 12th overall in passing yards – up from placing 16th in 2004.
Ninth best in rushing offense – a regression from their sixth place finish in '04.
Giving the ball away ten more times in 2005 than the previous year.

Wade Phillips file:
Thirteenth in the league in yards against in '05 – up five spots from their '04 finish.
Twenty-eight out of 32 in passing yards against – better than the next to last finish from a season ago.
The top-ranked rushing defense this year after placing third a year ago.
Improving on sack totals from 29 to 46.
Recording 13 fewer turnovers this season in relation to 2004.

Of course, everyone realizes the players have a lot to do with this. Each coach may put them in position to make plays – and a quick apology for sounding Marty Schottenheimer-esque but the players also need to execute.

No one can make a defensive back catch an interception when they clearly were afraid of the ball. And no one can make a quarterback throw a perfect pass each time. Those afflictions have been taken into account.

The Chargers seemingly have the talent and veteran leadership to absorb either blow.

A new offensive coordinator can't find much difficulty in handing the ball off to LaDainian Tomlinson, using play action to find Antonio Gates and spreading the ball around to Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker. He may have nightmares about the offensive line.

A new defensive coordinator knows it has Jamal Williams at the nose with help from Igor Olshansky and Luis Castillo to free up the linebackers and three players who can sack the quarterback in Shawne Merriman, Steve Foley and Shaun Phillips. The secondary may be a cause for concern.

More importantly, with Drew Brees scheduled to have surgery and his timetable for a return, as well as how well he responds, an unknown, it would mean Philip Rivers learning a new offense. If he is the starter next season, the former NC State quarterback would have to learn as he goes, instead of putting the knowledge of the offensive scheme that he has studied over the last two years to use.

Assimilation on the go isn't a position the Chargers would prefer to be in if Rivers takes the helm.

The defense will remain a 3-4 team and as Steve Foley pointed out when the team switched to that scheme "It takes two years to fully understand the 3-4 defense." The two years are up. The terminology may change with a new coach but the basics will stick – stop the run and pressure the quarterback with its speed on the edge.

Cameron may have his flaws but in this predicament he would be the one who is sorely missed. The Chargers still have the playmakers on the front seven to make any defensive coordinator coming in look good. The uncertainty on offense can't say the same.

What are the chances of either leaving?

Offense sells tickets in the NFL, seemingly giving Cameron the edge. He has head coaching experience in college but is he ready to run an NFL team? That is an issue that teams interviewing him are exploring.

"We weren't out contacting people for head coaching interviews, and it's truly an honor," Cameron said of his interview with Houston. "It's a thrill and a blessing to get a call from any National Football League team."

Phillips has a track record as an NFL coach. He has done well in the past and has enough contacts to assemble a quality staff. That bodes well with eight positions open. That the Chargers have contacted the agent for Ted Cottrell may be insight into who San Diego feels will be leaving this off-season. But Cameron sounded like a man with a plan in his interview with Houston media on Sunday.

"Well, obviously I've known Charley Casserly from our time together in Washington and today's been a wonderful day so far meeting with Mr. McNair and his staff," Cameron told Houston media on Sunday. "We've done a little bit of everything, which is exciting. We talked about the offense, the defense, the personnel - they got a plan. You stand here and deal with men that have a plan; you know you have a chance."

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