Taking on criticism

Quentin Jammer had been hailed as a future Pro Bowler and the consensus among fans is he never lived up to his billing. But the Chargers looked at the tape and saw something far different.

Cornerback Quentin Jammer is usually the lightning rod for criticism regarding the Chargers' shoddy pass defense. Critics point to him having but six interceptions in a five-year career, and but two in his past 36 games.

But the Chargers think otherwise and they proved it by extending his contract through the 2011 season. The deal includes some $13.5 million in bonuses and could be worth an estimated $30 million.

"The bottom line is we just think he's a terrific player that has been getting better each year," general manager A.J. Smith said. Much of the criticism directed at Jammer stems from the fact that he was a fifth overall pick of the 2002 draft. By comparison -- fair or otherwise -- running back LaDainian Tomlinson was the fifth overall pick of the 2003 pick.

Jammer has been far from one the league's best at his position.

"I have fans, and I have critics, and I listen to both," Jammer said. "I try to correct some of the mistakes that the critics have about me. It's not really about the fans; it's about the organization and their faith in me to be what they drafted me to be.

"I'm appreciative to the organization for feeling that I was a big part of this team. I've felt like for the past few years I've been getting close and closer to becoming that shutdown Pro Bowl cornerback."

Now, if he could just snag a few picks.

"Interceptions are great, but the thing I pride myself on is not letting my man catch the ball," Jammer said. "If you can keep the receiver from catching the ball, you've pretty much done your job. Picks look good, They get you in the Pro Bowl and everything.

"But shutting down receivers gets you wins, and that's all I'm concerned with. Wins get you championships."

If the Chargers are to ever reach that goal, they need to beef up their pass defense. While there is no doubting its run defense - lead the league last year - the backend has yet to show the promise Smith has been promising since taking over in 2003. Smith is confident Jammer's improvement - he set career highs in tackles (72) and pass defensed (19).

"I would love (Jammer) to have eight or nine picks a year," Smith said. "But in saying that, I think he'll get better over time. But to build a championship football team, we need good football players, and we as an orgainzationhave identified him as one."

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