New Hope for the Ron Rivera Era

The Chargers have a bye Sunday, but they were busy Tuesday. Defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell was fired and replaced by inside linebackers coach Ron Rivera.

The Chargers defense has been terrible the entire season. It is ranked 28th overall and last in defending the pass.

"Certainly if we were going to make a move, this was the time to do it," head coach Norv Turner said. "The decision was made, and we have a guy in place in Ron Rivera who has experience, and I've got great confidence in him."

Rivera, a former defensive coordinator and player with the Bears, interviewed in 2007 for the Chargers' head-coaching job that eventually went to Turner.

DC Ron Rivera

Rivera's mission will be to light a fire under a unit that was all about takeaways last season -- something seldom seen this season.

In 2007, the Chargers led the league with 30 interceptions and 48 total takeaways, resulting in a plus-24 ratio.

This year, San Diego has a minus-1 turnover ratio with just six interceptions and five fumble recoveries.

The Chargers, who have lost three of their past four to fall to 3-5, have gone 10 consecutive quarters without a sack or an interception.

"I think it's a great opportunity for me personally and a great opportunity as a team," Rivera said.

Rivera said the Chargers will remain a 3-4 unit and that there is a possibility of some lineup changes.


--QB Philip Rivers had another solid game, but he also had a late turnover that ended the Chargers' chances. Rivers heaved it around for 341 yards and three scores as he continues what is a stellar season. The Chargers' blemishes aren't at this position.

--RB LaDainian Tomlinson looked and played better than he had all year against the Saints. He showed his old burst and was able to cut and make spin moves -- something his hurt toe hadn't allowed this season. Tomlinson's 170 total yards -- 105 on the ground -- tell the story.

--RB Darren Sproles had a critical fumble that the Saints turned into seven points.

--TE Antonio Gates showed his old skills, as his hip and toe injuries are becoming non-issues. Gates had team highs in receptions (six) and yards (96). He also added a touchdown. Going forward, Gates could be in for a big second half.

--WR Vincent Jackson had a spectacular touchdown catch when he slid on his knees in the end zone to make the reception. But he also let a touchdown pass slip off his fingers. He finished with four catches for 60 yards.

--WR Chris Chambers (ankle) was back after missing two games, and his presence was felt more on the field than on the stat sheet. He had five catches for 47 yards, but having him on the field opened up routes for other people -- three other Chargers had scoring catches.

--WR Malcom Floyd didn't get a touchdown catch, but he was a part of the passing game. He had one catch for 21 yards. With Chris Chambers coming back, that likely means Floyd's numbers will go down.

--WR Buster Davis has fallen off the coaches' radar. He continues to be bothered by a groin injury; the team isn't counting on him now or maybe ever.

--FB Jacob Hester continues to play behind undrafted rookie Mike Tolbert. Hester has just two carries this year, and on the last one, he fumbled. The Chargers gave up a 2009 second-round pick for Hester.

--FB Mike Tolbert is doing an OK job, but he's no Lorenzo Neal in supplying lead blocks for LaDainian Tomlinson. He didn't have a carry or a reception against the Saints.

--OLB Jyles Tucker (hamstring) played for the first time in three games but was not factor. He had two tackles and no sacks.

--FS Eric Weddle had a bonehead penalty late in the game when he danced around after making an interception. The interception was overturned, but Weddle's penalty wasn't. Weddle is having a tough year.

--CB Quentin Jammer was picked on, as were all the defensive backs, though he did have six tackles. Jammer also battled cramps in his hamstring, which might have hampered his play.

--CB Antonio Cromartie continues his season that can best be described as all hat and no cattle. He had another difficult day covering receivers, and his tackling wasn't good. Cromartie is looking for a better second half.

--DE Igor Olshansky continues to disappear for long stretches of games. The game recap says he played, but good luck finding him on the stat sheet; he had no tackles.

--OLB Shaun Phillips had six tackles -- which is good. But he had no sacks -- which is bad. Phillips was supposed to fill the void left by Shawne Merriman, but his sack total has been stuck on 3 1/2 for three weeks.

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