Joe Pascale Not Retained

Joe Pascale, working on special projects for the team, will not be asked back for the 2003 season. Pascale was the defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers from 1997-2001 and in 1998 headed the top rated defense in the league, one which did not allow a 100 yard rusher all season including holding 2,000 yard rusher Terrell Davis to 69 and 74 yards in two meetings that season.

74 yards turned out to be the top rushing total during that year even though they faced seven 1,000 yard rushers. The Chargers defense held opponents to just 2.7 yards per rushing attempt in 1998, the lowest total by any NFL team since 1951, and they led the NFL by allowing just 1,140 total rushing yards, which was the fourth-best total since 1978. Only Miami (.500) allowed a lower completion percentage by its opponents than San Diego (.511). Pascale's defense also ranked in the top three in other areas, including opponent completion percentage (.511, second in NFL), rushing first downs allowed (72, third), total first downs allowed (256, third) and opponents success rate on third down (30%, second).

In 2000, the Chargers allowed opponents just 3.0 yards per carry, ranking second in the league. In the two years prior, the Chargers led the NFL in that category. The Chargers also ranked fourth overall in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game, holding opponents to an average of 88.9 yards.

Pascale missed most of the 2001 season while recovering from three back surgeries to fix a spinal cord injury and was brought back in 2002 by Dean Spanos to work on special projects with the defense. The club has now decided against extending his contract.

Pascale was thankful for the chance in 2002 despite his physical imitations stating, "He didn't have to do that, but he did," referring to being resigned by Spanos.

"Mentally, I'm good. Physically, the job is going to have to be tailored to what I can do, which is meet with people, have limited time on the field and contribute to game-planning. It's uncharted waters, but I intend to go to work and I intend to make a contribution to the staff. It just won't be a traditional contribution," Pascale added.

Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer commented on the choice not to renew the contract, "I just wasn't sure the pieces all fit together."

Word is, Associate Head Coach of the Defense, Bill Arnsparger will also step down to spend more time with his family. Arnsparger was also a defensive coordinator of the Chargers, from 1992-1994. It was Arnsparger, as the head coach of the New York Giants, who gave Schottenheimer his first NFL coaching job when he appointed him to coach the Giants' linebackers in 1975.

Schottenheimer declined to comment on the future of Arnsparger.

Now the defense inches closer to the philosophies of Dale Lindsey who enters his second season as defensive coordinator. As a first year defensive coordinator he had two respected men to lean on and now will not get those little whispers in his ear. The learning curve is effectively over, and the defense is now fully in the hands of Lindsey. That also explains the potential changes in personnel on defense. The old crew is gone, the new era has begun.

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