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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Poor Kaeding

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Nate Kaeding did not sleep that night and was in the Chargers’ complex at 5 o’clock the next morning, watching his kicks on a big screen in a darkened room.

He spent time last week — when he wasn’t in seclusion with his wife and two young children — being counseled by his coaches. It seems Kaeding has reached a point of being ready to at least try to move forward, but he has been in a bad way since those kicks sailed left and right and short on Jan. 17.

“I was just really blindsided by it,” Kaeding said yesterday. “I was looking for answers.”

Kaeding spoke after the AFC Pro Bowl squad’s morning practice at a high school here.

A few hours later, he withdrew from the Pro Bowl after suffering what appears to be a slight tear in his groin.

“Stay 10 yards away from me; I’m not good luck right now,” Kaeding said with a laugh. “It’s beyond unbelievable. I’m laughing to keep from crying.”

Kaeding left practice believing the tweak in his groin was not a problem. But after undergoing tests later, Kaeding said the injury was “significant enough” that it was prudent for him to skip this week’s festivities. He will undergo further tests this week.

Kaeding had been looking forward to kicking in Sunday’s game. Even though just an exhibition, it was going to afford him the opportunity to kick in a game.

“I had mentally structured it in my mind, I was going to take this week seriously,” Kaeding said. “I was looking forward to getting out there (in the Pro Bowl) and getting to kick and going through that, rather than six months from now.”

He only briefly considered not kicking here this week.

Before being forced to withdraw, Kaeding spoke of beginning that process.

“It’s not my nature to run and hide,” he said. “I sat and thought about it. I said, ‘It’s my job to come kick the football, and I’m going to do it.’

“The circumstances of the last week have been so overwhelming … the last thing I want to do is look at a football. But I decided I needed to suck it up, be a man and go down (to South Florida).”

Yesterday was Kaeding’s first time since that night publicly addressing the disastrous game in which he missed three field goals in the Chargers’ 17-14 season-imploding loss to the New York Jets.

But, privately, it is about all that has been on his mind.

“It’s impossible for me to not think about,” he said. “There haven’t been 30 seconds that have gone by since that game that I haven’t thought about it.”

Kaeding spoke evenly, but his anguish was plain.

The most accurate regular-season kicker in NFL history entered that game having made 20-consecutive field goals, most of them not even flirting with the uprights but going dead center. He had made an NFL-record 69 straight from 40 yards or closer.

Yet, that day, he missed to the left from 36 yards in the first quarter. His try from 57 yards fell short and right at the end of the second quarter. And his attempt from 40 yards in the fourth quarter went wide right.

“It’s been a nightmarish scenario,” Kaeding said. “To have it going so good and over one day, to go so bad … It’s hard right now, if not impossible, to wrap my head around and figure out what went wrong.”

Kaeding is not running from the task, but he has several months to right himself.

He said the first miss was because he hurried. The second two were not technical mistakes. He candidly acknowledged they were in his head.

“On the other two, it was my inability to mentally get over that first miss,” he said. “… On that day, I wasn’t mentally strong enough to come back and swing through the ball.”

Kaeding will not rush the process of mentally healing and processing what went wrong. But, he said, “That’s my job. If it doesn’t naturally come in the next week or two I’m going to sit down and make myself figure it out.”

He has for four years consulted a sports psychologist during the offseason for all manner of issues that confront a kicker — who is rarely called upon to contribute but so often has his contribution matter.

“It’s helped me tremendously,” Kaeding said.

He said he will continue to see the psychologist, and his playoff misses will certainly come up.

Kaeding, whose 87.2 percent success rate during the regular season is unsurpassed by any kicker ever, has made just eight of his 15 field goal tries (53.3 percent) in the playoffs.

He missed four of his first six postseason kicks but had made six straight going into this year’s playoffs.

“Kicking in the postseason was a hurdle I thought I’d gotten over,” Kaeding said. “Therein lies the disappointment. I work extremely hard every year at getting better. To have it blow up in my face that one day … ”

Kaeding knows he will be judged going forward by how he does in the postseason. Most people, in fact, won’t care what he does in the regular season.

“I understand, looking at it from the outside,” he said.

But he argues he has to continue to excel in the regular season to even have another shot in the playoffs.

He said that process will begin shortly, even though he doesn’t get to kick anymore this week.

“I was not mentally tough enough on that day,” Kaeding said. “But trust me, I’m pulling myself up. I know 100 percent for sure, I am tough enough to make field goals in the playoffs. I wish I had that chance tomorrow.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

San Diego Chargers: For Better or For Worse

By: Zach Friend

I know there are better ways to spend a Sunday. I've seen others do it -- productive things like fixing the leaky faucet or spending time with your family. But ever since I moved away from San Diego, I spend my Sundays scouring television guides, Internet stations and my friends' satellite dishes to watch my beloved team. Every year, I show my loyalty and build hope for a year better than the last only to have the season end in anguish and despair. Anyone who is a Chargers fan is well aware of this phenomenon, and not just because you are most likely a Padres fan as well.

But you don't have to be a Chargers fan to understand this cycle of loyalty, anticipation and the anguish of dashed hopes. In fact, 31 teams and cities fail to win the Super Bowl every year and the Sunday ritual of dodging chores is played out across the country. Many cities don't have winning seasons (or winning decades for that matter) and I know how fortunate I have been to even see my team in the playoffs. After all, it seems if you aren't from New York or Boston the last decade that championships weren't really for you.

But why do we allow ourselves to go through this despair year after year? Teams have the ability to place cities on their backs during times of anguish (as has been seen in New Orleans after Katrina and San Diego after the fires) and build uncommon bonds between people. They allow for a common language between a father and son or even the stranger at the supermarket. If nothing else, they bring a commonality beyond locale and connect us with a loyalty not really seen in other aspects of our community.

Clearly this loyalty isn't reciprocated by some owners and business managers who are responsible for astronomical ticket prices, demands for new stadiums and players that are treated like disposable dishes (can anyone say LaDainian Tomlinson?). To the business world it doesn't matter if you are one of the best running backs in history -- a few injuries or no MVP-like season and you're gone.

Some owners expect our blind loyalty winning season or not but rarely give us much love in return. But we trudge on -- with open arms. What is interesting is that for many of us, our loyalty to teams does not translate into loyalty in other elements of our life. For instance, what happened when you went to a restaurant that you loved for the first five trips and then had two bad experiences? Do you go back? Do we give political figures or co-workers the same leniency? Most likely not.

I suppose this is what makes sports different. Teams, like my San Diego Super Chargers, are something you grow up with and stick with -- for better or for worse. Many will never understand why we develop these trusting and eternally hopeful bonds with teams. It is like Charlie Brown continually thinking that Lucy won't pull the football out from underneath him. Or it is like a relationship where everything seems to be going so well only to find out on week 18 that it's immediately over.

But we keep coming back for more. We irrationally cultivate our trust year after year and feel optimism undeterred by the defeats of the past. Maybe we want to have something in our lives that is innocent and hopeful or maybe we just want to justify to our significant others that we are doing something valuable on Sundays. Either way, I think this off-season I'll leave my Bolt banner up -- after all, I can sense that September portends something good.

Letting go of letting Brees go

By: Tim Sullivan

Drew Brees is the hurt that won’t heal, the second guess that won’t stop, the big arm that got away, Ryan Leaf in reverse.

Just as the grief of Chargers fans was transitioning from anger to, well, more anger, just after one local pastor opened his Sunday sermon by lamenting the Bolts’ playoff loss to “the stupid Jets,” here was Brees sprinkling creole salt on San Diego’s open wound.

In leading the New Orleans Saints to their first Super Bowl Sunday afternoon, the erstwhile Chargers quarterback has brought rapture to the bayou and fresh rancor to the seething fans of his former team. He has revived a debate that is sometimes dormant but never dies — the question of whether the Chargers exercised haste, waste or careful calculation in letting Brees leave.

The simple answer is that it was never a simple question; that General Manager A.J. Smith’s decision was not made in a vacuum, but as the product of converging personnel and financial forces. While many Chargers fans remain miffed that a Pro Bowl quarterback could walk away for comparatively token compensation, it is not altogether clear — even in retrospect — that a better alternative was available.

To review: The Chargers drafted Eli Manning in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft, then turned around and traded him to the New York Giants for a package featuring Philip Rivers. Manning purportedly wanted no part of the Chargers — since Tom Condon represented both Manning and Brees, the agent’s agenda entailed conflicting interests — but the team’s insistence on finding a new quarterback was largely driven by doubts Brees had been unable to dispel.

The Chargers owned the No. 1 overall selection that spring as the reward for a 4-12 finish the preceding fall. Brees’ record as an NFL starter was then 10-17. He had thrown 31 interceptions against 29 touchdown passes. He was unquestionably undersized, allegedly the owner of a substandard arm, not nearly the player he would later become.

“Like any young quarterback, it takes time,” former Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said yesterday. “Like with (Mark) Sanchez in New York, people don’t realize how hard it is to get a young quarterback to play the game at the speed it is played. …

“I think the thing about Drew is that he’s a student of the game. He understands the mechanics of throwing the football, and he had great balance. I just think he reached the point where the skill set he had was complemented by (experience). When those two things dovetailed enough times, he had a chance to become a big-time quarterback.”

Because Brees’ breakthrough 2004 season dovetailed with Rivers’ rookie year, the Chargers found themselves with an unexpected surplus of talent at football’s priciest position. Smith plainly preferred Rivers, and arguably had a larger stake in his success because he had inherited Brees, but he saw enough in the Chargers’ 2004 playoff run to apply an $8 million “franchise” tag to Brees for the 2005 season.

Brees had taken a series of extraordinary steps to improve his game before the 2004 season, enlisting the aid of dietitians, exercise experts, personal performance coaches, personality analyses and former baseball pitching coach Tom House. Through this painstaking process, Brees remade himself from the NFL’s 29th-ranked quarterback into a Pro Bowl player.

Still, Smith wasn’t completely sold. His praise of Brees was consistently faint and his negotiating stance conspicuously short-term. While Brees stumped for a multi-year contract, the Chargers showed little interest in locking him up for any length of time. Even that tepid interest evaporated when Denver’s Gerard Warren smashed Brees’ right shoulder in a pileup during the Chargers’ 2005 season finale.

With Brees fresh from surgery on a torn labrum, the Chargers offered their recuperating quarterback an incentive-laden lowball deal, possibly just for appearances. Brees chose instead to sign a contract with New Orleans that included $10 million guaranteed.

“It was never discussed with me that it was going to be done until after the fact,” Schottenheimer said. “I was disappointed in it. From my perspective, we could have had an opportunity to work and develop them (both) over a period of time. But on the other hand, Philip Rivers has turned out to be a pretty good quarterback, too.”

Among the more popular alternative scenarios was one in which the Chargers would have “franchised” Brees a second time as an insurance policy in the event Rivers stumbled, and as a means of exploiting his trade value in the event Rivers succeeded. There might be an argument for that approach, but it’s not a particularly pragmatic argument. Keeping Brees at that point would have entailed paying a post-operative quarterback roughly $9 million to fill what was projected to be a backup role.

That’s like leasing a Lamborghini just in case your Ferrari breaks down.

Conceivably, the Chargers could have kept the battered Brees and traded a healthy Rivers, but that was never a realistic option. Even now, with Brees one win from the Lombardi Trophy, it’s not yet obvious which guy will have the better career. That’s not a slight for either player, either, but a tribute to them both.

What bearing Brees’ injury had on his career path is conjecture, but it likely pushed Smith in the direction he was already leaning. Having provided Rivers a two-year apprenticeship, Chargers management was eager to see the kid play.

“I don’t know what we would have decided with a healthy (Brees),” Smith said at the time. “I don’t know if the value would have changed or how much it would have changed. But (was it) a factor? Absolutely.”

Smith declined an interview request yesterday, but he has often made the point that the Chargers did not allow Brees to walk away “for nothing,” as is widely perceived.

Because the Chargers tend to be spectators in the marketplace for front-line free agents, they ultimately received a third-round 2007 draft choice as compensation for Brees signing with the Saints. That draft choice was spent on Clemson linebacker Anthony Waters, who was credited with three tackles before the Chargers cut him last February.

Feel better? Didn’t think so.

Chargers Staying Put Next Season

Source: San Diego Tribune

Chargers home games will be at Qualcomm Stadium for at least one more season as the team tries to build support for a new venue in downtown San Diego.

The announcement that the team won’t trigger the termination clause in its lease this year came yesterday from Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani.

But Fabiani, who has spearheaded the team’s stadium search since 2002, said the team won’t commit to staying in San Diego beyond the 2010 season.

The team’s announcement comes the same week that the Centre City Development Corp., San Diego’s downtown redevelopment arm, considers launching a 15- to 18-month process to obtain the approvals to pump hundreds of millions of tax dollars into a stadium.

Fabiani said the Chargers’ focus in 2010 will be on assessing the political support for building an up to $800 million stadium, partly via public subsidy.

“What we expect to know during the next year is whether city elected officials, particularly the mayor and a majority of the City Council and a majority of the county Board of Supervisors, will support a downtown plan,” Fabiani said. “I think we can figure that out before the CCDC process is over.”

Fabiani called political support crucial for a project of this magnitude but said he doesn’t expect elected officials to get behind it unless a financing plan is in place that works for the city and team.

Under its contract, the team is able to quit Qualcomm Stadium between Feb. 1 and May 1 from now until the end of its lease in 2020. The team must notify city officials in writing of its intention and pay a termination fee.

That fee decreases annually. It’s set at $54.6 million this year and falls to $25.8 million in 2011.

City Hall observers have long speculated that if the team were to leave, it would not do so before the end of next season because of the drop in the termination fee.

Fabiani addressed that issue yesterday.

“I don’t want to be cavalier about $20 million or $30 million,” he said. “It’s a lot of money by any one standard, but in a billion-dollar deal, no one’s going to be making a decision based on $20 (million) or $30 million.”

Before focusing on the site east of Petco Park, the Chargers considered building a stadium in Chula Vista, Escondido, National City and Oceanside.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders broached the idea of a downtown stadium with Chargers President Dean Spanos last year. The team said in December that it would only be possible with downtown redevelopment money from the city of San Diego.

Such sums are usually raised by borrowing against future property tax revenues. In this case, the approach needs approval from a range of elected officials.

The public may be asked to vote on a new stadium in 2012.

The CCDC board of directors meets at its downtown offices at 9 a.m. tomorrow to consider asking the City Council to support seeking approval to use redevelopment revenue for a stadium and other downtown projects.

It will also discuss the downtown site’s financial viability with stadium finance expert Mitchell Ziets — his first public presentation since being hired for $160,000.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Vincent Jackson to Pro Bowl

Source: Chargers.com

Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson learned Sunday that he’ll make his first Pro Bowl appearance next week in Miami.

Vincent Jackson was added to the AFC Pro Bowl roster Sunday, making him the sixth Charger to receive the honor this season. Jackson replaces Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who won’t participate due to his team advancing to the Super Bowl.

Jackson set career highs with 68 receptions, 1,167 yards and nine touchdowns this season. His yardage and touchdown totals led the Chargers, while his average of 17.2 yards per reception trailed only Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson among players with at least 45 catches.

Jackson becomes the first Chargers wide receiver to earn Pro Bowl honors since Tony Martin in 1997. Jackson had his name mentioned with Martin’s on a few occasions this season as “VJ” became the first Charger to record back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons since Martin accomplished the feat in 1995-96.

Chudzinski not heading to Bears

After interviewing for the vacant offensive coordinator position in Chicago last week, Chargers Tight Ends & Assistant Head Coach Rob Chudzinski notified the Bears that he has removed himself from consideration.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Merriman Shocked by Paternity Suit

Source: SD Tribune

Shawne Merriman said he’s excited about becoming a father for the first time. His close friend, Tiffany Horne, is pregnant. The two have known each other for almost six years and have a good relationship, he said.

Which is why the Chargers linebacker said he was “shocked” to learn yesterday that a paternity case was filed against him in Horne’s name this week in San Diego Superior Court.

“She’s a great friend of mine and has been for almost six years now,” Merriman said. “There’s no denying of any kind of paternity. For this to be even taking place is a shock.”

Horne couldn’t be reached for comment. Merriman attributes the court filing to a communication breakdown between attorneys for him and Horne.

The case is under seal in court, which is common for paternity matters. Because of the seal, further details aren’t publicly available.

“It’s not a paternity suit,” said Horne’s attorney, David Schulman, “It’s between two people who have an agreement.”

He declined to give further details and said the matter was private.

Asked why the case was filed in public court, Schulman said the filing was “a formality.”

Merriman’s attorney, Jim Scott, called it a “standard paternity case.”

“We’re looking forward to it being handled quietly and favorably,” Scott said. “Mr. Merriman is a stand-up guy. It’s surprising they’ve gone to this action with the child not even being born yet.”

Scott recently had to leave San Diego to attend a family funeral, leading to a breakdown in communication between attorneys, Merriman said. That may have led to a public filing in a matter that Merriman said otherwise was being handled privately between attorneys.

Shortly after explaining his side of the situation yesterday to the Union-Tribune, Merriman sent out a message to his followers on Twitter.

“Wanted to wait until after the season to share some exciting news,” Merriman wrote. “I’m going to be (a) Dad. I’m so excited.”

Other Chargers legal news

• Chargers receiver Vincent Jackson sued the California Department of Motor Vehicles last year to avoid having his driver’s license suspended. San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald Frazier denied that request in September and reimposed the suspension of Jackson’s license at that time. That ruling led to his citation Sunday for driving with a suspended license, shortly before the Chargers’ playoff defeat against the New York Jets.

Jackson’s license was suspended after he was arrested in January 2009 on suspicion of drunken driving. He was already on five years’ probation for a 2006 DUI conviction.

• Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips is still facing a civil suit stemming from an alleged incident at the Ivy Hotel in April. A security guard there, Robert Chase Van Cleave, accuses Phillips of punching him and spitting in his face and is seeking payment of his medical expenses and unspecified damages.

Phillips was cited for misdemeanor battery. The San Diego city attorney’s office declined to file a charge for lack of evidence.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rivers withdraws from Pro Bowl

Source: SD Tribune

Some day, Philip Rivers will play in a Pro Bowl.

This won't be that year.

For the third time in his four seasons as a starter, Rivers has withdrawn from the Pro Bowl due to the impending birth of his fifth child.

Rivers withdrew last year to rest his knees. He withdrew after the 2006 season due to a foot injury.

He is healthy now, but his wife is due any day.

Rivers finished the season with 4,254 yards, averaged 8.8 yards a pass, had 28 touchdowns and threw just 9 interceptions. He finished the year with a 104.4 QB rating.

Tennessee's Vince Young will take Rivers' place.

That leaves Kris Dielman, Antonio Gates, Kassim Osgood and Nate Kaeding as the Chargers in the Pro Bowlers. The Chargers coaching staff will coach the AFC squad.

Interview with Dean Spanos

By: Casey Pearce

As it did for all Chargers fans, the end to the 2009 season came much too soon for team President Dean Spanos. Despite his huge disappointment, he still looks forward with optimism.

Now that a few days have passed, how are you feeling about last Sunday’s game?

“I’m still very disappointed. I think it’s going to take a few weeks to get over it. I’m as disappointed as the fans are and the players and the entire organization. But you can’t look back. You have to just move forward.”

A lot of fans are still pretty upset and are having a tough time getting over it. How long does it take you to get over a tough loss like that?

“It’ll probably take me to the first game next year before I stop thinking about it. It’s always going to be there, but realistically I think in the next month or so you’ve got to clear your head and everybody has to focus forward. We’ve got to focus on the upcoming draft and begin putting our team together for next year.”

Before we start talking about next year, looking back at last season, what are you most proud of and what disappoints you the most?

“I’m most proud of how (Head Coach) Norv (Turner) and the players held everything together after we started off 2-3. We had an 11-game winning streak and got into the playoffs with high expectations. The thing that disappoints me is that in Sunday’s game against the Jets, we didn’t do what we typically did during the 11-game winning streak. We played more their game than ours and that’s very disappointing.”

You just gave Norv a three-year contract extension. Obviously you must be pretty happy with the job he and his staff have been doing?

“In the last three years it’s been a work in progress, but we’ve won the division and made the playoffs three years in a row. We’ve overcome some adversity early in each season for different reasons. Norv has always been able to stay the course, keep the team focused and get us in the postseason, which says a lot.”

There were 62 different players that saw game action this season and the team still won 13 games. What does that say about the ability of A.J. Smith to build depth and the job Norv and his assistants did getting them ready to play?

“To have that many players on your roster, mostly due to injuries and for various reasons, and to be able to hold it together and have the performance of the players continually get better as the season goes on, that’s a tribute to Norv and his staff. It also speaks highly about A.J. and his staff and their ability to bring in the right personnel so we can keep moving forward.”

Looking forward, why are you optimistic and why should fans be optimistic about the future of this team?

“I’m optimistic for a lot of reasons. I think we have a great coaching staff in place and we have an excellent core of players here for the next two or three years. You build around that core, and that continuity is so important for a football team. There’s no doubt in my mind that we have that, but there is constant turnover and you have to always look to get better. A.J. has been very successful at that throughout his tenure.”

What do you think needs to be addressed this offseason to help this team improve?

“There were a lot of injuries on the defensive side of the ball and that’s where we had the biggest flux of new players. I think our pass rush needs to improve. Offensively, our productivity in the run game was not what it should be and we’ll look at ways to improve there.”

There has been a lot of speculation that there could be many roster changes next season. When do you, AJ and Norv plan to start talking about that?

“Within a couple weeks after the Super Bowl we’ll all sit down. Some of our player personnel staff like Jimmy Raye and John Spanos will also be involved. We’ll go through the roster and evaluate each player. You go through all the coaching staff and the entire organization and do an evaluation on everybody. It could be two or three days, and we’ll spend the time together until the process is complete.”

The collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players’ union also is a hot topic. How will that affect how teams do business?

“There are big differences in how the league will operate this season if there is or if there isn’t a new CBA in place. Particularly, if there isn’t a new agreement, we’ll have an uncapped year. That brings about significant changes in regards to the classification of restricted versus unrestricted free agents. It would take forever to explain them all, but there’s a great Q&A on our web site that can answer most of your questions.”

How does it make you feel when you see the fans and community rally around the team as it did at the end of the season?

“That’s what it’s all about. We’re part of this community and when you see the fan support that we have, that lets you know that you’re doing a good job. I know the fans are just as disappointed as I am and everybody else here, but we couldn’t have done it without them. I have to thank the fans for being there this year. I know it’s been a difficult year financially for a lot of our fans, but they filled the stadium every home game this year. We’ve now sold out 48-consecutive regular season and postseason games. That’s a record for this franchise; one we’re very proud of. That wouldn’t be possible without our fans.”

There has also been a lot of public concern about the effort to get a new stadium built in San Diego. What’s the latest in that effort?

“As a lot of people know, the mayor has come to us with a potential site in downtown San Diego. It’s clearly unique to the other sites we’ve been looking at. It’s a very small site, roughly 10 acres. If we were able to build there, it would be the smallest site in the NFL. There are some possibilities there, but there are also some challenges. The city is doing an economic and financial study right now to determine how this project would be funded. We’ll be looking at that within the next 30 to 60 days. If we continue on to the next phase of this project, one of the keys to its potential success is the support of the mayor and city council before it goes before a vote in 2012. Without the full public support of the mayor and city council, there’s no chance this project can be successful.”

A story in Monday’s Union-Tribune suggested that fan morale because of the loss could have a negative impact on the team’s efforts to build a new stadium. What are your thoughts on that notion?

“I don’t think it will. Even if we had won the Super Bowl this year, I don’t think it would make a difference in a 2012 vote by the people. If you look around the league, there are cities with winning teams that have built stadiums, cities with losing teams that have built stadiums and cities with no teams that have built stadiums. There’s no magic formula, but it comes down to the voters. The voters are smart and this is going to have to be a proposal that is good for the city as well as the San Diego Chargers. If that deal is struck, you’re going to have the support of the Chargers, the mayor and the city council. Then the voters will make the final decision.”

Effects Of A Potential Uncapped 2010 Season

By: The National Football League

Many fans have asked about the effects of a potential uncapped 2010 season. Here's a Q&A


Q. When does the CBA expire should there be no extension to the agreement?

A. In March of 2011.

Q. Will there be a college draft in 2011?

A. Yes.

Q. What is the “Final League Year” in the current agreement?

A. The “Final League Year” is the term used in the CBA to refer to the last year of the agreement. Without a further extension of the CBA, the “Final League Year” would be the 2010 League Year, which begins on March 5.

Q. What are the differences between the “Final League Year” and any other “League Year?”

A. The principal differences are that in the “Final League Year” there is no salary cap and there are substantial additional restrictions on player free agency and reductions in player benefits.

Q. Are current player benefits affected in the Final League Year?

A. We expect current player benefits to decline in the Final League Year. The union agreed that in the Final League Year, clubs would be relieved of their obligation to fund numerous benefit programs. Examples include second career savings (401K), player annuity, severance pay and performance-based pay. The total league-wide contributions to such plans in 2009, the last capped year, were in excess of $325 million or more than $10 million per club.

Q. Are retired player benefits affected in the Final League Year?

A. Commissioner Goodell has stated in a letter to the NFL Alumni Association Board of Directors that there will be no reduction in pension or disability payments to retired players during the Final League Year (2010). Since at least the fall of 2007, NFL owners have consistently agreed and planned that they will not reduce the funding for pension or disability benefits for retired players. Nor will they reduce funding for the 88 Plan during the Final League Year.

Q. What determines an unrestricted free agent in the Final League Year (2010)?

A. In capped seasons, a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent if he has four or more accrued seasons. In the Final League Year (2010), a player whose contract has expired becomes an unrestricted free agent only if he has six or more accrued seasons. An unrestricted free agent is free to sign with any club with no compensation owed to his old club.

Q. What determines whether a player is a restricted free agent in the “Final League Year?”

A. In capped seasons, a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three accrued seasons. In the Final League Year (2010), a player whose contract expires becomes a restricted free agent if he has three, four or five accrued seasons. The first refusal/compensation rights of restricted free agents remain unchanged in the Final League Year.

Q. In addition to the right to designate a franchise (or transition) player each capped year, can clubs designate additional players in the Final League Year?

A. Yes, one additional player can be tagged. In capped years, a club may designate a franchise player or a transition player. In the final league year (2010), a club may designate one additional transition player. A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s prior year’s salary, whichever is greater. A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no draft pick compensation from that club.

Q. What is the Final Eight Plan?

A. During the Final League Year, the eight clubs that make the Divisional Playoffs in the previous season have additional restrictions that limit their ability to sign unrestricted free agents from other clubs. In general, the four clubs participating in the championship games are limited in the number of free agents that they may sign; the limit is determined by the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs. They cannot sign any UFAs unless one of theirs is signed by another team.

For the four clubs that lost in the Divisional Playoffs, in addition to having the ability to sign free agents based on the number of their own free agents signing with other clubs, they may also sign players based on specific financial parameters. Those four only will be permitted to sign one unrestricted free agent for $5.5 million (estimated) or more in year one of the contract, plus the number of their UFAs who sign with another team. They also can sign any unrestricted free agents for less than $3.7 (estimated) million in year one of the contract with limitations on the per year increases.

In the case of all final eight teams, the first year salary of UFAs they sign to replace those lost cannot exceed the first year salary of the player lost with limitations on the per year increases.

Q. Is there an Entering Player Pool in the Final League Year?

A. There may be. The CBA provides that the league has the unilateral right to keep or eliminate the rookie pool in the Final League Year.

Q. Is there a Minimum Team Salary in the Final League Year?

A. There is no Minimum Team Salary in the Final League Year. The Minimum Team Salary in 2009 is $107,748,000, meaning each team is required to allocate more than $107 million to player costs (not including benefits). The team salary cap in 2009 was $123 million.

Q. Are there individual player minimum salaries in the Final League Year?

A. Yes, but they rise at a rate somewhat slower than player minimum salaries rise in capped years.

Q. Do any player contract rules from capped years remain in place for the Final League Year?

A. Yes, some rules like the “30% increase rule” are still in effect in the Final League Year for player contracts signed in capped years. That rule restricts salary increases from 2009 to 2010. For example: a player with a $500,000 salary in 2009 would be limited to annual salary increases of $150,000 ($500,000 x 30%) beginning in 2010.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Vasquez named to PFW All-Rookie Team

By: Casey Pearce

Chargers guard Louis Vasquez named to Pro Football Weekly’s All-Rookie First Team.

When the Chargers used a third-round pick in April’s draft to select guard Louis Vasquez, they thought they were getting a smart, physical offensive lineman who was capable of quickly transitioning from his collegiate spread offense to San Diego’s pro-style attack.

Vasquez proved to be just that. As a rookie, he started 14 games at right guard, missing only Weeks 2 and 3 due to a knee injury, and the Texas Tech alum played well enough to earn All-Rookie honors from Pro Football Weekly. The publication lists the top rookie at each position on its squad, and Vasquez joined Buffalo’s Andy Levitre as the top guards.

Like every Charger has done in recent weeks when given personal accolades, Vasquez credited his teammates with much of his success.

“Getting to play with the veterans that we have on our offensive line has been huge for me, and our line coaches (Hal Hunter and Mike Sullivan) really helped me a lot,” Vasquez said. “It was a great year that hopefully I can continue to build on.”

Head Coach Norv Turner praised Vasquez for the way he took hold of the opportunity to start so early in his career.

“Louis really has been outstanding,” Turner said. “He's a guy that's gotten better as he's played. When you look at ouroffensive line across the board, we're big and we’re physical, and he'sas physical as anybody we line up with.”

Vasquez was the only Charger recognized by PFW, but San Diego saw its rookie class make major contributions. First-round pick Larry English was part of the rotation at outside linebacker and coaches were encouraged by his high motor and disciplined play. Defensive end Vaughn Martin saw his playing time increase as the year went along, and safety Kevin Ellison elevated himself to the top of the depth chart in the team’s base defense.

As expected, fourth-round guard/center Tyronne Green spent most of his rookie season learning on the practice field, and coaches were pleased with his progress. Two undrafted free agents, linebacker James Holt and safety C.J. Spillman, made names for themselves on special teams.

“We’ve had a lot of young guys make strong contributions to this team and a lot of guys stepped up,” Turner said.

Room to improve

Turner said Monday that he’ll encourage all of his players to follow the examples set by so many veterans, specifically tight end Antonio Gates, who despite being established veterans had their most productive years of their careers in 2009.

“We’ve got players that can get better,” Turner said. “If Antonio Gates can have his career best year at 29 then a guy that’s played two years at the age of 25 certainly has room to improve.”

After battling the lingering affects of offseason toe surgery in 2008, Gates played relatively pain and injury free this season and set a career high in receiving yards.

Anxiously awaiting

Running back LaDainian Tomlinson delivered his trademark ear-to-ear smile Monday when asked where he’ll focus his attention over the next couple months.


“Trying to be a great husband to my pregnant wife,” Tomlinson said.

LT’s wife LaTorsha is approximately four months along as the couple anticipates its first child.

“I am really excited about that,” LaDainian Tomlinson said. “Just all the preparation that goes into getting ready for the baby, it’s exciting and now I get to really be involved day-in and day-out so obviously I’m excited about that.”

Giving back

Quarterback Philip Rivers will spend most of his offseason in San Diego with his family aside from a few weeks in his native Alabama. One of the main focuses of his next few months will be establishing his foundation, which will be called “Rivers of Hope.”

“The specific focus will be out soon but it’s geared toward foster-care and helping those children and parents that are looking to adopt,” Rivers said.

Like many of his teammates did Monday, Rivers said Sunday’s loss to the Jets will eat at him for a while.

“It’s tough. I hate losing as much as anybody. I know we all feel this loss and hurt in this locker room and in this building. It doesn’t get better over night. In fact it’ll probably get worse these next two weeks until nobody’s playing and you can feel better, but we’ll gear back up and be back at it.”

Good day for Turners

On the same day Turner signed a three-year extension with the Chargers, his son received a promotion in his coaching career. Scott Turner, Norv’s oldest son, was named wide receivers coach at the University of Pittsburgh. Scott spent the past two years as an offensive assistant on Dave Wannstedt’s staff.

Tuning in

Some Chargers said they won’t be able to stomach watching the conference championship games next weekend, but linebacker Stephen Cooper for one will be glued to his couch, particularly for the AFC Championship.

“Oh I’m definitely going to watch,” Cooper said. “I love football. I’m a fan of football and I love watching it. You’ve got two good teams playing next week in the Jets and the Colts. You’ve got Peyton Manning versus a great Jets defense so it’s going to be a good matchup.”

On the NFC side, many Chargers will be pulling for former teammate Drew Brees.

“He’s my buddy,” Tomlinson said.

Norv: This team can win a Super Bowl

Source: SD Tribune

So the Chargers have been eliminated from the playoffs again. Their fourth straight trip to the NFL's final eight was as futile as the first three.

So close. So far.

"When you get to that point where you're one of eight, you know youre two games away," Norv Turner said at a noon press conference. "That's the disappointing thing for me."

We're all wondering -- aren't we? -- about the future of this team after Sunday's 17-14 loss. Stephen Cooper told me last night it is a valid question to wonder whether this team can get it done in the playoffs. He believes they can, but it's valid to question.

Norv Turner went on the offensive this morning in answer.

"We have an outstanding football team," Turner said. "We have good players and great character players and people you want to be around on a daily basis and guys that will get this thing done. They will get this thing done. There is no question in my mind."

Turner recalled how the Chargers stopped hot Indianapolis teams the previous two postseasons. As many in the organization have over the years, Turner refered to the process Indianapolis has gone through. The Colts are in the playoffs for the eighth straight season. Their one Super Bowl berth (and victory) came on their fifth trip to the postseason.

"Theyre getting ready to play in the championship game," Turner said of the Colts, who will host the New York Jets on Sunday. "There are things you have to covercome in this league. We have the type of guys that will do that. The future for this football team is outstanding."

Chargers vow to regroup

Source: SD Tribune

As the Chargers and their faithful take tepid steps away from the carnage of one of the worst losses in franchise history, there are some things to know and some things to wonder about.

First, the head coach isn’t going anywhere. Norv Turner signed a three-year contract extension yesterday.

Second, the general manager isn’t going anywhere. A.J. Smith’s five-year extension hasn’t even officially begun.

Third, Nate Kaeding isn’t going anywhere. The kicker’s six-year body of work and a $12.65 million contract that runs through 2012 will keep him a Charger for 2010, at least.

As for a number of other players …

This could be as eventful an offseason as there has been in the Smith era.

LaDainian Tomlinson has almost certainly run his last play as a Charger, though he said he isn’t finished playing.

“It’s not the time,” he said yesterday. “I will play next year. I obviously want to still play football. I think I can be productive, I’m not saying I’d get 1,800 yards, I believe I can absolutely be a 1,200-yard rusher.”

Tomlinson is signed through 2011. Under terms of his renegotiated deal, he is due $2 million in a roster bonus in March, which means the Chargers will make public their plans for him by then. Tomlinson, due $5 million in total, is guaranteed $1 million even if the Chargers release him.

“What’s going to happen,” he said, “no one knows.”

Several other key Chargers have reached the end of their contracts, though they may yet remain under the team’s control due to the in-flux state of the collective bargaining agreement.

Malcom Floyd, Vincent Jackson, Marcus McNeill, Shawne Merriman, Darren Sproles and seven other players are due to be unrestricted free agents but could be restricted if, as expected, a new CBA is not agreed to and 2010 has no salary cap.

Assuming there is no cap, it will be interesting to see what tenders the Chargers place on the aforementioned five players.

A restricted free agent can negotiate with other teams, but his current team is entitled to compensation based on which tender it places on him (first-round, first- and third-round, second-round or third-round).

“We will now take a step back and assess our team,” Smith said yesterday. “We have lots to think about and lots to do, as always. As an organization we will regroup and start building next year’s team. We will do everything we can to build a championship team.”

Smith likely won’t be heard from again until around March 4, the day the current league year expires and a new one is set to begin (at 9:01 p.m. PT). Yesterday, he took a moment to reflect before looking forward.

“The sudden end to the dream is always difficult and very disappointing,” Smith said. “The closer you think you are, the more it hurts. There will be no head hanging around here. Our motivation and desire to be the best burns more with every disappointment this organization experiences.”

Players reiterated their heartfelt belief this was the best Chargers team they had been on.

“I felt like that from the bottom of my heart,” Tomlinson said. “I really felt that this was the year.”

Linebacker Stephen Cooper was among the most devastated and forthright Sunday night and again yesterday.

“When you had the opportunity we had, the team we have, we’ve got to take advantage of that,” Cooper said. “… It’s going to hurt for a while. The opportunity was there for us to go win a Super Bowl. We have the guys intact. We have the coaching staff intact. We’re just disappointed to be sitting at home watching somebody else play for the Super Bowl when we thought it was going to be ours.”

Turner expressed to the media in a news conference and then to his team in their year-ending meeting that achieving the ultimate goal is a process and that he believes they are working toward a Super Bowl.

On that, he and his players agree.

“We’ve still got one-seven (Philip Rivers) at quarterback,” Cooper said. “We’ve still got a lot of guys coming back. We know a lot of contracts are up and a lot of guys are going to be restricted, but I think a lot of the same faces will be back here next year. We’re gonna keep pushing for the Super Bowl.”

Monday, January 18, 2010

Turner signs three-year extension

Source: Chargers.com

San Diego President Dean Spanos signed Head Coach Norv Turner to a three-year contract extension today, extending his contract through the 2013 season. "I'm extremely proud of the job Norv has done with this team," said Spanos. "In three seasons he's led the team to three division titles. I'm confident that if we strengthen our roster and continue to provide Norv the assets he needs, this team will have continued success."

Turner has the top overall winning percentage in team history at .648 (35-19) as well as the top regular-season percentage (32-16, .667). The Chargers are 13-0 in December under Turner and 4-3 in January. His three playoff wins are tied for most in team history. The team's 13 regular-season wins in 2009 are the second most in team history, and includes a team-high seven wins on the road and a 4-0 sweep of the NFC East. The team committed the second-fewest turnovers (17) and the third-fewest penalty yards (570) during the regular season. Its 78 penalties are the fewest by the Chargers since 1976 when there were 14-game seasons.

Turner's leadership did not go unnoticed nationally as USA Today named him its NFL Coach of the Year.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

San Diego Super Chokers....Fuck You Kaeding!!

SAN DIEGO — New York is halfway toward that Super Bowl parade promised by coach Rex Ryan after rookies Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene led the Jets to a stunning 17-14 upset of the San Diego Chargers in the divisional playoffs Sunday.

Sanchez threw a go-ahead, 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dustin Keller three plays into the fourth quarter, then Greene gave the Jets some breathing room with a 53-yard scoring run on their next possession.

The upstart Jets (11-7), who have won seven of their last eight games, advanced to the AFC Championship Game at top-seeded Indianapolis next Sunday.

The Chargers (13-4) not only saw their 11-game winning streak end, but suffered yet another playoff pratfall after earning the AFC’s No. 2 seed.

"A kicker is paid to do ONE thing and ONE thing only!! Statistically, I don't give a fuck whether or not Kaeding is the best kicker in NFL History, HE LOST THE GAME THREE TIMES OVER!. HE HAS CHOKED MULTIPLE TIMES IN THE PLAYOFFS!! FUCK YOU NATE KAEDING, FUCK YOU!" - J.D. Harrison

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Road to new stadium gets first green light

— San Diego’s downtown redevelopment arm yesterday secured the first approval in a series it needs to spend larger amounts of money repairing blight downtown.

Chief among the beneficiaries of the effort would be the San Diego Chargers. The team wants to build a football stadium downtown and needs hundreds of millions of dollars of public money for a venue that could cost up to $800 million.

The Budget/Finance & Administration Committee of the Centre City Development Corp. voted 5-0 yesterday morning, with Director Steven Relyea absent, to embark on a process that could take 15 to 18 months.

CCDC Chairman Fred Maas equated yesterday’s first step to “asking our doctor if we may start the arduous process of training for a marathon.”

Maas said the effort to lift a cap on how much money could be redirected downtown in the form of future property tax revenue owes its momentum to one factor above all else: Plans backed by Mayor Jerry Sanders and the team to build a stadium on land bounded by Imperial Avenue and 14th, 16th and K streets.

“It’s about a stadium,” Maas said after yesterday’s meeting. “But it’s about things bigger than a stadium.”

Under state law, the CCDC could spend nearly $2.9 billion repairing blight and rebuilding downtown through 2043, but officials expect to hit that cap in 2023 or 2024.

Under the cap, they estimate they have $386 million of discretionary spending for a list of anticipated projects.

They don’t yet know how much more money they’ll need for an updated list.

They estimate it will cost $500,000 to hire lawyers, economists, engineers and soil experts to figure that out and to prepare reports required by state redevelopment law to appeal the agency’s cap.

The full CCDC board will take up the issue Jan. 27 and the council is expected

to consider greenlighting the appeals process next month.

Only two people addressed the CCDC committee yesterday.

Jason Everitt of the Center on Policy Initiatives, a local labor-friendly think tank, said the CCDC should be mindful of creating quality local jobs.

Gary Smith, president of the San Diego Downtown Residents Group, advised CCDC officials not to forget downtown’s current needs by focusing on new projects.

Because of another commitment, Councilman Kevin Faulconer showed up to speak at the hearing a few moments after it ended. In a letter to Maas Monday, Faulconer, whose council district includes downtown, urged fast action.

“We have a duty to see this plan through to completion,” he wrote.

Lifting the cap requires the blessing of the City Council, the state departments of Finance and Housing and Community Development and four government entities that have tax-sharing agreements with the CCDC.

They are the county, the San Diego County Office of Education, the San Diego Unified School District and the San Diego Community College District.

Maas said he and Frank Alessi, CCDC’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, discussed the issue once with county chief administrative officer Walt Ekard and are scheduling meetings with the other agencies.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chargers Team Report 1-13-10

Source: USA Today

Spry? A spring in their step? Set to go? Whatever the term, the Chargers’ bye week went as planned.

Coach Norv Turner said the Chargers were at full strength as they began preparations Monday for the Jets.

The two teams tangle on Sunday in an AFC Divisional Playoff game at Qualcomm Stadium, with the winner advancing to face the Colts-Ravens’ victor.

The Chargers are going through a regular work schedule after enjoying the weekend off as the AFC’s No. 2 seed.

The team looks to avenge a playoff loss to the Jets in the 2004 season.

The Chargers will do so while being as healthy as they have been in quite some time. That’s especially true for outside linebacker Shawne Merriman.

“I feel pretty good,” said Merriman, who has been battling a foot injury. “The last four or five games I was pushing through so we could get in the position that we are in right now where not only myself, but some of the other guys were able to get some rest. I feel good and I’m ready for a great week of practice.”

Merriman didn’t play in the regular-season finale win over the Redskins, then took all of last week off.

How close to 100 percent is the three-time Pro Bowler?

“I really don’t put a percentage on it because I can go out there and say that I’m 100 prcent but you just never know,” he said.”But I feel pretty good though.”

The Chargers are upbeat about knowing their opponent after having to wait for the Jets, Bengals and Patriots to sort things out.

“It helps to get into more detail in terms of who you’re playing,” Turner said. “I thought we had great work last week. We need to work on things that have given us problems, things that we thought we could do better. We got work on that last week. Now you zero in on a team.”

With a 0-0 record, the Chargers face a team that is 1-0 and feeling good after upsetting the Bengals.

“They’re a good team,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “Anybody you face, we said last week, is going to be a really good team. I think they’re just that.

“They played really good football down the stretch, which is what you want to do: be playing your best ball at playoff time. As far as their defense is concerned, it’s going to be a challenge. They’ll be as good as any we’ve played so far and again, that’s what you expect. You get to this point in the season – the playoffs – and it’s going to be a lot of good versus good out there.”

NOTES, QUOTES

—Among the interesting matchups Sunday is the Chargers’ defense going against a Jets offense which looks familiar. Brian Schottenheimer is the Jets’ coordinator, and Marty’s kid is running a lot of the same stuff Cam Cameron did when they were both in San Diego. “There is some familiarity there,” Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera said.

—Rex Ryan was passed over for Turner when the team replaced Marty Schottenheimer after the 2006 season. The Chargers went 14-2 but lost a home playoff game to the Patriots and Schottenheimer was canned.

—QB Philip Rivers’ game is accuracy. That is why it meant a lot when he finished the regular-season avoiding double-digits in interceptions — he had nine. “You’d like to keep this one at zero,” he said about his number heading into the playoffs.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

—OLB Shawne Merriman is back practicing after giving his sore foot an extended rest.

—WR Vincent Jackson is out of his boot and working. He took some down time with a sore Achilles tendon.

—FS Eric Weddle (knee) has returned to practice and is a go for Sunday.

—WR Malcom Floyd could be poised to build on his 140-yard receiving day in the regular-season finale. Vincent Jackson figures to get most of the Jets’ attention at wide out.

—RT Brandyn Dombrowski and RG Louis Vasquez will be making their first playoff starts.

REPORT CARD FOR REGULAR SEASON

PASSING OFFENSE: A — Philip Rivers was sensational this season, cementing his reputation as one of the elite players at his position. Rivers, who led the league in yards per attempt, didn’t blink when shouldering more and more of the Chargers’ offensive load. Vincent Jackson continues to emerge as one of the NFL’s rising stars with his second straight 1,000-yard season. Antonio Gates had one of the better seasons of his career and that is saying something. To throw as much as the Chargers do, the pass-blocking has to be consistent and it was — despite the unit being shuffled because of injuries.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D — The Chargers never found a steady rhythm running the ball as they hovered around the bottom of every critical rushing category. LaDainian Tomlinson didn’t show his burst at all times — he missed two games with an ankle injury — and Darren Sproles made the majority of his contributions as a receiver and return specialist. It remains to be seen if this shortcoming will be exposed in the playoffs.

PASS DEFENSE: C — The Chargers’ pass rush wasn’t much early on and the result was rival quarterbacks having a fair share of success. But they shook up the back end by cutting Clinton Hart and inserting rookie Kevin Ellison at safety and making a few other tweaks. Shaun Phillips became a force stripping footballs from quarterbacks — franchise-best seven forced fumbles. Shawne Merriman battled knee and foot problems throughout the season and was far from his Pro Bowl-like seasons.

RUSH DEFENSE: C — When T Jamal Williams went down this unit was shell-shocked. It finally came around with the contributions from street free agents and other newcomers. But the Chargers were 20th in stopping the run and this is another area which could bite them in the playoffs.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A — The Chargers have one of the better kicking games in the NFL with steady K Nate Kaeding — a Pro Bowler — and P Mike Scifres, who continued to be a weapon with his pinpoint accuracy. Sproles fueled a return game; he averaged 24 yards on kickoffs, 7 on punts. The coverage units had a few hiccups but for the most part were fine.

COACHING: A — Norv Turner was Mr. Tar and Feather after starting 2-3. But he stayed true to his plan, didn’t panic, and the Chargers rolled out an 11-game winning streak and won their fourth straight AFC West title. Turner deserves credit for getting this offense on an impressive level and continuing the development of Rivers. Defensive coordinator Ron Rivera was rocked with injuries, and somehow patched together a unit which got better as the year progressed.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Scouting the Jets

Source: SD Tribune

In this era of pass-happy teams, the New York Jets are a throwback to the days when the formula for winning was running the ball and playing defense – two things these Jets do extremely well. They ranked No. 1 in the NFL in six major statistical categories – rushing yards; fewest total yards allowed, passing yards allowed, first downs allowed, third-down conversion percentage allowed and points allowed.

While the Chargers have scored at least 20 points in 22 consecutive games, just five teams scored more than 17 points against the Jets this season, none in the last seven games, when their opponents combined for just 61 points (8.7 per game). For the season, including Saturday’s playoff win over Cincinnati, the Jets gave up 14.7 points a game – or almost exactly half what the Chargers scored (28.4 average). Cornerback Darrelle Revis had six INTs and is the favorite to be named NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

New York’s offense ranked 20th in total yards and 17th in points, with Thomas Jones rushing for more than 1,400 yards and the rest of the team combining for almost that many. Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez threw 20 INTs and ranked near the bottom of the league in most categories, but he was 12-of-15 in his playoff debut.

Last meeting

The teams played at Qualcomm Stadium on a Monday night in Week 3 of the 2008 season and the Chargers opened a 31-14 halftime lead en route to a 48-29 victory.

Series history

The Chargers also beat the Jets in New Jersey in 2005 and hold a 19-12-1 series advantage, including 12-7 in California. The Jets won three straight games at Qualcomm Stadium before the Chargers’ victory in 2008.

Playoff history

Few Chargers fans will forget the only postseason meeting between the teams. It happened after the 2004 season and the visiting Jets shocked the favored Chargers 20-17 in overtime. Chad Pennington threw two TD passes as the Jets took a 17-7 lead into the fourth quarter. The Chargers forced overtime on a TD pass by Drew Brees with 11 seconds left, but Nate Kaeding missed a 40-yard field goal in the overtime before Doug Brien converted a 28-yard field goal for the Jets after 14:55 of extra time.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Coryell Finalist For Hall Of Fame

Source: San Diego Tribune

Don Coryell just took a giant step closer to a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, advancing to the final round of 15 nominees for the first time, it was announced Friday.

The former Chargers and St. Louis Cardinals head coach, who already earned a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame for his success at San Diego State, made it with a groundswell of support for his candidacy that included the strong endorsements of a pair of Pro Football Hall of Famers with San Diego ties, ex-Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts and Joe Gibbs, an assistant under Coryell with the Chargers and SDSU.

Coryell, 85 years old and struggling with serious health issues in a San Diego hospital, is almost as identified with the Chargers’ vaunted passing attack as originator Sid Gillman. Obviously, his candidacy for Canton had been hurt by the fact that he never coached in a Super Bowl, but it’s just as obvious that the dominance of pass-oriented teams in today’s NFL in large part stems from the way Air Coryell winged the ball around in the late 1970s and 1980s.

“He means so much to so many people that have been in this game,” Chargers head coach Norv Turner said Thursday. “This (offensive) system started with him. And it’s gone off with players and coaches — (so many) you can’t start to name them all.”

Coryell had a regular-season NFL coaching record of 111-83-1 (.572 winning percentage) in 14 seasons — nine with the Chargers (69-56) and five with the Cardinals (42-27-1). He was just 3-6 in nine playoff games.

Coryell was one of 15 finalists chosen to go with two previously announced senior nominees, Floyd Little and Dick LeBeau. The 15 men came from a group of 25 semifinalists picked from a list of 131 preliminary nominees.

At the selection meeting Feb. 6 (the day before the Super Bowl) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a committee will vote on the two senior nominees, with 80 percent approval required for election. Then a vote will reduce the list of 15 modern-era candidates to 10, and another vote will winnow that list to 5. Those five remaining candidates will be voted on individually; those receiving at least 80 percent approval will be elected.

Two of the first-time nominees, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, must be considered locks. That leaves Coryell in a group of 13 battling for the other three spots in the final five.

Those 13: Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Roger Craig, Dermonti Dawson, Richard Dent, Russ Grimm, Charles Haley, Rickey Jackson, Cortez Kennedy, John Randle, Andre Reed and Shannon Sharpe.

Carter, Dawson, Dent, Grimm, Kennedy, Randle, Reed and Sharpe have all been finalists previously. Along with Coryell, who has been eligible for induction for 23 years, the other first-time finalists who had been eligible in the past are Craig, Haley and Jackson.

The election results will be announced at 2 p.m. PST on Feb. 6.

Vote for Don Coryell at: www.fanschoice.com

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chargers No Longer Target for L.A.

The developer of a NFL stadium in L.A. has said he will not talk to the Chargers while they are in the process of considering how to build a stadium in San Diego, according to the voiceofsandiego.org. Developer Ed Roski had previously indicated that the Chargers would be on the main targets for a team to move to L.A. Now he says that the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills are his top two teams. Roski also said that he wants to find a team that is willing to sell their franchise to a group of investors he would lead. There is no indication that Alex Spanos is interested in selling the team.

Holt to injured list, sign linebacker Dontarrious Thomas

The San Diego Chargers have placed linebacker James Holt on "Reserve-Injured" and signed veteran linebacker Dontarrious Thomas to take his place on the active roster.

Thomas (6-2, 241), in his sixth NFL season, originally entered the NFL as a second-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in 2004. He has appeared in 63 games, including 10 starts, and has 47 career special teams tackles. Thomas spent four seasons in Minnesota before signing with the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent in 2008. He was released at the conclusion of training camp and later returned to Minnesota for the final 10 games of the season.

This fall, Thomas played for the United Football League's California Redwoods. He was the team's leading tackler and finished third in the UFL in stops. Thomas has been a special teams contributor throughout his professional career. He will wear No. 57 for the Chargers.

Holt will undergo surgery on his shoulder after injuring it Sunday in San Diego's regular-season finale. Originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent in May, Holt spent the first seven weeks of the '09 season on the team's practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster prior to the Chargers' Week 9 victory over the Giants and had nine special teams tackles in nine games.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Playoff Veterans

SAN DIEGO — It’s in the newfound boringness of so many previously talkative Chargers. It’s in the way they work on Wednesday and the way they walk away from games on Sunday, ready for Monday and what comes next.
It’s in how they finished the season, making it important even when it didn’t matter.
“I’m just amazed by the focus at this point,” tight end Antonio Gates said. “The preparation is still the same. You can sense we’re just mentally sharp.”
Therein lies the difference that will just maybe make this time different.
After an earned week off, the Chargers will give it yet another try in the playoffs with a home game Jan. 17 at Qualcomm Stadium.
It will be their fourth straight playoff appearance, fifth in the past six years and their 14th time in the postseason since winning the 1963 AFL Championship.
It’s the recent history that weighs heavily on a team that has won so many regular-season games and yet fallen short of the ultimate goal.
The Chargers are one of just two teams, along with Indianapolis, to have reached the postseason four straight seasons.
The Colts have their Super Bowl, and the Chargers believe they can follow the suit of Indianapolis, which went to the playoffs five consecutive seasons before winning its championship on the sixth try, after 2006.
The Colts said after that title that their getting there was a process. If the Chargers are celebrating amid blue and gold confetti, passing around the Lombardi Trophy come Feb. 7, they will voice something similar.
“We have a lot of guys who have been in the playoffs and not only been in the playoffs, but won games and won close games,” head coach Norv Turner said yesterday. “They’ve experienced that, and they’ve experienced the other side of it. I do know our guys understand it can end real fast if you don’t go out and do the things you’re capable of doing.”
Especially should the New England Patriots beat the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday and come to San Diego the next weekend, there will be much rehashing in the coming weeks of what happened following the 2006 regular season.
After the Chargers won 10 in a row to finish with an AFC-best 14-2 record, the Patriots came to Qualcomm Stadium and beat the rusty/overwhelmed Chargers 24-21.
“This is a totally different team,” quarterback Philip Rivers said. “The guys who were here, yes, we remember it. Yes, we know we made some plays we can’t make and win, but this is a totally different team with a totally different approach and totally different mentality. We’re a long way from that game.”
It seems so. But they are a long way from that game in part because of that game.
Where the Chargers had 21 players who had never been in the playoffs that year, including Rivers, Marcus McNeill and Shawne Merriman, they have 12 playoff rookies this season. Twenty-four current Chargers played in that loss to the Patriots.
The way Rivers puts it is that the Chargers “have been through ups and downs and seen about everything we can see.”
Asked about a consistent focus that seemed to carry them through this season — from a 2-3 start to 11 straight victories to finish it — veteran Chargers reached back to 2004.
That year, the Chargers went to the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade. They lost in the first round. Amid high expectations they went 9-7 and missed the playoffs the next season. Then came ’06, after which Marty Schottenheimer was fired.
The Chargers began 1-3 under Turner but won eight straight en route to the AFC Championship Game, where they lost to New England after the 2007 season. Last season, four December wins overcame a 4-8 start and got the Chargers into the playoffs, where they won a game before losing to Pittsburgh, the eventual Super Bowl champion.
“Enough is enough” is sort of the mantra.
“You get to a certain point,” cornerback Quentin Jammer said. “You get to the playoffs, then have a year you don’t go, then go out in the first round, get to the playoffs the next year and get further, then get to playoffs and don’t make it as far as you did the previous year. Guys get fed up, and we’re going to do whatever needs to be done.”
Certainly, this is a talented team. And some skepticism must remain after so many early endings and a team having posed before as a mature group.
But these Chargers talk less, practice with more precision and appear unfazed by the downs and, especially, the ups of a season.
“The one-week-at-a-time mentality we have is more than we’ve had in the past,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said recently. “It’s the experience. Guys have played a lot of football games.”
In 2006, with the football world talking about how great the Chargers were and 11 of them headed to the Pro Bowl, players were talking Super Bowl by Christmas.
There is no such talk now. Too many lessons learned.
“I hate to say we weren’t as focused back then,” Rivers said. “But maybe there is some truth to it, that you grow from all that. Maybe all our emotions and experience and everything is channeled in the right area. Maybe that’s why we got through 2-3 and won 11 in a row and are here now.”

Chargers Team Report 1-5-10

Source: USA Today

The Chargers enjoy a bye this week, thanks to earning the AFC’s No. 2 playoff seed.
But the Chargers won’t be kicking completely back. They know their real season is about to start, and they will treat this week accordingly.
Coach Norv Turner said the players would attack practices in a manner that doesn’t allow for rust.
“I think it’s something this team has done a good job. … We practice fast,” he said. “This week we can reduce the reps just a little bit, but when we go, you just have to go fast and you have to maintain that type of mentality. I think that’s the strength of this team.
Turner said it has been that way whether the Chargers were 2-3 or 13-3.
“Even when we were struggling, I know I commented on it, and it doesn’t help when you say it but you’re not playing as well as you’d like, but we have practiced well, and I believe we will continue to,” he said.
The Chargers don’t know their opponent, but they learned Monday they will play on Sunday, Jan. 17, at Qualcomm Stadium. Their opponent will be the Patriots, Bengals or Jets.
With so many potential opponents possessing so many varied approaches, it makes it a challenge to prepare for a particular skill set.
But Turner is embracing the postseason bye week and isn’t complaining.
“It’s the position you’re put in, and we will prepare for the situations that are going to come up in this game,” he said. “We just talked about it — whether it be red zone, whether it be backed up, whether it be goal line, whether it be two-minute — we will get those situations handled and we will work hard on them.
“We will look at different things that teams do and do a little bit of each, but in those situations, things tend to be a little more standard. There are a lot of similarities between all the teams you play. Obviously we have to wait until this weekend is over to find out exactly who we’re playing. Then we’ll get into the specifics of that team.”
What is clear is the Chargers are hot, winners of 11 straight games as they advance to the playoffs for the fourth straight time.
“We’re playing at a real high level,” Turner said. “I think there are a number of teams that are playing extremely well.
“We had an outstanding game with Dallas in early December, and they’ve really taken off. You look at the teams in the AFC, and they’re going that way (up).
“To me it’s not what you’ve done or how well you’ve played. You get a 3 1/2-hour game and you need to play better than the team you’re playing against.”
NOTES, QUOTES
—It’s believed defensive coordinator Ron Rivera will be interviewed for the Bills’ head-coaching vacancy.
—Quarterback Philip Rivers speculated that his offense was in for a big day Sunday — if the starters hadn’t been pulled after two series. “We moved the ball pretty well,” said Rivers, who directed the team to 10 points in two possessions. “I felt like we were rolling pretty well.”
—The Chargers’ win on Sunday came thanks to another late drive by backup quarterback Billy Volek. He did the same thing two years ago when filling in for an injured Rivers against the Colts.
“Nobody panicked,” Volek said of the drive that resulted in a 2-yard scoring pass to Mike Tolbert with 35 seconds remaining. “We’ve been doing it. I think we’ve got great coaches on the staff who prepare every position to get ready. Hopefully, I won’t play in the playoffs.”
—Wide receiver Buster Davis was active for the first time all season, and the former first-round pick didn’t blow his big chance.
“I wanted to get out there in front of 60,000 fans and show what I can do,” said Davis, who had six catches for 52 yards. “It’s very frustrating to be on the sideline every week. Never have I had to sit for this length of time.”
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
PLAYER NOTES
—LB James Holt, who has been playing well especially on special teams, will undergo shoulder surgery. He is out for the season.
—DE Jacques Cesaire (elbow) will start practicing this week.
—RB Jacob Hester (shoulder) didn’t play Sunday but will ease into a practice routine.
—WR Vincent Jackson (Achilles) didn’t play Sunday, and the Chargers will monitor his practice time.
—OLB Shawne Merriman (foot) will practice sparingly but will start in the playoff game.
—WR Legedu Naanee (foot) will practice this week.
—FS Eric Weddle (knee) will practice this week and play the following week.
REPORT CARD VS. REDSKINS
PASSING OFFENSE: B — Philip Rivers wasn’t in the game long, but he was there long enough to lead the Chargers to 10 points in two drives. Billy Volek showed some rust — not a shock — but came on strong at the end to pull out the win. The pass blocking was spot-on. Kudos to WR Buster Davis, as he showed he might not be a bust. Malcom Floyd was effective with a team-high 140 yards on nine catches.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C — Not much here, as the Chargers couldn’t crack the 50-yard barrier or the 3-yard-per-carry standard. The run blocking was merely OK; there were a lot of changes with the massive substitutions. Michael Bennett had 28 rushing yards on 11 carries but added 62 yards on four catches.
PASS DEFENSE: C — The Chargers had some tackling issues with their backups, in particular CB Dante Hughes. Antoine Cason, a former nickel back, held up well and led the team with 12 tackles, one for a loss. The pass rush didn’t gather huge numbers — one sack — but Jason Campbell seldom was able to set his feet or look comfortable in the pocket.
RUSH DEFENSE: B — The Redskins had only 64 yards rushing as the Chargers front line often won the battle up front, and the linebackers were active as well. LB Brandon Siler had a tackle for a loss as he continues to shine. LB Kevin Burnett is working his way back into shape after a neck injury; he had five tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B — Nate Kaeding was perfect on three field-goal attempts, including one from 45 yards. The coverage units were on the mark, but the Chargers didn’t get much from the return game. P Mike Scifres remains solid.
COACHING: A — Norv Turner needs to be in the discussion for coach of the year honors. He was able to walk that fine line Sunday of getting his regulars some work — and then out of harm’s way — while recording a win behind his backups. Turner has the Chargers’ attention, and they are focused heading into the playoffs.