Coaches hopping off the Chargers bus

Things are beginning to move at a brisk pace – and the San Diego Chargers are quickly losing staff members.

The first to leave was Cam Cameron, taking the vacant head coaching position with the Miami Dolphins. The now former offensive coordinator has built a hefty resume in San Diego, helping the Chargers lead the NFL in scoring this season.

Once Marty Schottenheimer's return was sealed, Cameron's fate was too. There are more than a few people who believed Cameron would have succeeded Schottenheimer had he been let go.

Now, Cameron is alone in Miami, right?

"Cam Cameron is here in large part by a tremendous group of men and people in San Diego," he explained. "I do want to take this opportunity to thank the people in San Diego, our fans in San Diego and the players in San Diego. As you know, we have wonderful players there.

"I think the most difficult phone call I had to make after I signed the contract today was to Philip Rivers. The reason I share that with you is because that's why we're winning. We were winning in San Diego because of how people felt about each other. That's what we're going to do here.

"I just have tremendous respect for Marty Schottenheimer. It's not very often that many of us get a chance to work to somebody we truly love. I love the man. I would not be standing here today if it weren't for Marty Schottenheimer. The entire organization – I got off the phone with A.J. Smith, thanked him. He's excited for me and my family. I haven't visited with Dean (Spanos) yet, but I know I'll visit with him this evening. I truly believe that the people in San Diego are a huge part of why Cam Cameron is standing here."

And the team building could include raiding the San Diego assistant coaches.

"He has had great success in San Diego," Miami owner Wayne Huizenga said. "He's put together a very exciting and dominant offense there in the league. He's worked under a great coach by the name of Marty Schottenheimer. Those two have a great relationship."

Cameron has earned the respect of his peers with a tireless work ethic and an easy-going persona. His players believed in him and his fellow coaches saw the leash he was granted in playcalling – they could be lining up to join him.

The Chargers offered one-year extensions to each member of his staff, but the lack of job security with Schottenheimer's deal expiring in 2007 could push several out the door.

"We're going to look at all of our options," said Schottenheimer on the search for Cameron's replacement. "We'd like to keep the system in place. It is sound and has proven to be successful. We don't want our players to have to learn a new system. I'm going to sit back and not rush into anything. I'm going to look in house first."

One in-house option has been eliminated. Rob Chudzinski interviewed with the Cleveland Browns for their offensive coordinator position and accepted the position. Chudzinski served as the San Diego Chargers tight ends coach from 2005-06 and worked with Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, who was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of the last two seasons. In 2006, Gates led the Chargers in all receiving categories including 71 receptions for 924 yards (13.0 avg.) and nine receiving touchdowns.

"The people in San Diego, coach (Schottenheimer), A.J. Smith and the Spanos family treated me great out (in San Diego) and it was a tremendous time for me," said Chudzinski. "I'm happy to be here and obviously it's been a whirlwind. From a philosophy standpoint, I've been lucky to be around attacking styles of offenses that are built on a balance of run and pass. It utilizes the special and unique talents of the guys who are part of that offense. It gives your playmakers a chance to make plays for you. We talked primarily about an attacking style of offense."

Wide receivers coach James Lofton turned down the head coaching position in Oakland and is the clear front-runner to take over the duties. His only in-house opposition appears to be Clarence Shelmon. Shelmon has the backing of LaDainian Tomlinson – but neither has ever coached an entire offense.

Then there is the rumor that Wade Phillips would be front and center if Bill Parcells retires from the Cowboys.

While one coach has stayed and another has gone, this will prove to be an interesting off-season for the Bolts.


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