Questions Looming

Disappointment. The questions remain mainly for a defense that never got it together all season long. Eight times they allowed a quarterback to throw for 300+ yards. When it came down to crunch time they could not stop a team from scoring. Will it be the head of Dale Lindsey that feels the axe, or many players? Dave Campo, the former Dallas Head Coach would look nice in San Diego.

The question is who will stay, and who will go? Or is it the scheme that is the problem and could we see a new defensive coordinator to replace Dale Lindsey.

"It's hard to comprehend or swallow because we have the effort and the guys really wanted it,'' defensive end Marcellus Wiley said. "But we didn't close out the deal, and that's something we have to figure out.''

Figuring out will be in the offseason as Marty Schottenheimer and John Butler decide what direction this team needs to take to get to the next level. The defense has not done its job and wholesale changes could be in store, or a different coordinator that will better utilize the talent that is in San Diego may be on the agenda.

"It's been going on for a while,'' defensive end Raylee Johnson said. "The offense does its part and the defense can't close it out. It's just a trust of other teammates that everyone will do their job, and somehow we lost that trust with one another.''

It starts up front where not enough pressure has been generated all season. The team preferred to rush four for most of the season, electing not to blitz nearly enough. That placed more pressure on the secondary, which did not perform.

"It's very disappointing," cornerback Alex Molden said. "It reflects on me because I'm a defensive back. But we have to get better and we have to believe in a system. You gotta have an attitude that you're the best on the field. We had that early in the year, I think, and somehow, some way we lost it."

"It's a mindset, an attitude," Molden added. "You've got to feel that you're the best team, that you're the best corner, that you're better than that wide receiver, or if you're a defensive lineman that you're better than that offensive lineman.

"And it can't be for just a couple of plays a game. You have to believe that. Maybe we had it earlier in the season, but somehow we lost that little chip on our shoulder that we can go out and finish a team."

Added safety Keith Lyle: "I just feel like we let the team down today."

"It's 100 times worse now because we've got things in place," cornerback Ryan McNeil said. "We've got a legitimate quarterback, a Pro Bowl running back, a tight end who can beat just about any linebacker in the league, a defense that has been together. Although we played a different scheme, things were in place."

"But we let too many opportunities slip away. It makes you want to cry, it makes you want to scream, yell, kick, hit something because you know you're much better than how you've played. So, this one is going to hurt for a while. A long while."

"Our goal was to get into the playoffs, and anything short of that was a very disappointing season,'' safety Rodney Harrison said. "For us to finish 8-8, and not finish in the playoffs, is very disappointing. It's not the way we envisioned it after starting 6-1.''

The secondary was given a different scheme this year under the tutelage of Lindsey. "I would hope that people would see me as a teacher first. That's how I look at myself," said Lindsey. Maybe he should look in the mirror because the lessons are not getting through. The losses continued to mount and not team giving up as many yards as the Chargers did will have a chance to win every weekend.

Before this season Lindsey stated, "You're going to see a defense that runs to the ball, finishes every play, is tough and physical, and can win in the fourth quarter."

The Chargers defense has blown 14 leads with less than 3 minutes left or in OT in just the last two seasons. When exactly are we going to see this tough play in the fourth quarter? No coach should appear to be a politician. He has not delivered what he has promised and though one year may be too small a sampling, there are better options available.

The wait cannot be long as the defense will be retooled to fit the scheme, or the scheme will be retooled to fit the players. One disturbing trend is the scheme was not played around with enough to utilize the players' strengths. Nor did they blitz enough to throw a quarterback out of rhythm. For the Bolts to continue the upward trend next year the defense must improve.

One solution would be hiring Dave Campo who was relieved of his head coaching position with the Dallas Cowboys. Campo is known as a defensive coach and helped lead Dallas to four Super Bowls as he headed up their defense as the coordinator. In four of the five years that Campo directed the Dallas defense, the Cowboys finished the year ranked among the NFL's top 10 units, including two top three finishes. He also was a secondary coach for Dallas prior to his ascent to coordinator. The secondary is the main problem for the Chargers ironically enough.

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