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Despite changes, expectations still high

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Concudan, Feb 12, 2007.

  1. Concudan

    Concudan Still Chargin Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 5, 2006

    Ask Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer to sing the praises of former coordinators Cam Cameron and Wade Phillips and it’s a tune he could carry for hours. Ask him to press the panic button now that they’re gone and you’ll get a stern refusal.

    “We had two of the preeminent coordinators in football,” Schottenheimer said. “It was only a matter of time before they received other opportunities, and we’re happy for them. The fact remains that we’ve got a lot of talented players here. We’ve already hired talented men to coach them, and I’m confident that we’ll complete our staff with a group of bright teachers that will help us keep this thing on track.”

    Schottenheimer understands that change is inevitable, and instead of hanging his head about the lost pieces of his coaching staff, he’s smiling about the moves he’s made to replace them.

    In 16 seasons as an NFL running backs coach, new offensive coordinator Clarence Shelmon sent players to 11 Pro Bowls and had his hand in the league’s highest scoring offense a year ago.

    New tight ends coach Clancy Barone helped develop Alge Crumpler into one of the NFL’s elite tight ends. Crumpler led the Atlanta Falcons in receiving in each of his two seasons under Barone and also developed a reputation as an accomplished blocker. Atlanta led the NFL in rushing in 2006, and their tight ends played a key role in springing Warrick Dunn, Jerious Norwood and Michael Vick. Prior to his time with the Falcons, Barone spent 17 years in the college game, serving as both an offensive line coach and a coordinator.

    In 2003, new Chargers running backs coach Matt Simon was part of the second-best rushing performance in NFL history. Under Simon’s tutelage, Ravens running back Jamal Lewis rushed for 2,066 yards, only 39 behind Eric Dickerson’s single-season record. Although the Ravens were forced to rely heavily on the run due to a lack of experience at the quarterback position, they still topped the 2,000 yard mark three times during his tenure.

    “I really feel like we’ve added a pair of quality coaches in Matt and Clancy and I’m excited about the opportunity Clarence has as well,” Schottenheimer said. “There has been some change, but we still have a group of teachers here that is going to put some very talented players in position to make plays each week.”

    As Schottenheimer pointed out earlier this week, it’s not unusual for successful franchises to see their assistants take promotions with other clubs. A little research shows that it’s also routine to see teams remain successful under new leadership.

    After winning the Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 2004 season, the New England Patriots lost both offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to Notre Dame and defense coordinator Romeo Crennel to the Cleveland Browns. In 2005, Bill Belichick’s squad still won the AFC East and advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs.

    Last January, New England again lost their defensive coordinator when Eric Mangini became the head coach of the New York Jets. Under a first-year coordinator in 2006, the Patriots ranked sixth in the NFL in total defense and advanced to the AFC Championship game.

    At the conclusion of the 2004 season, Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Nolan left to become head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. That opened the door for Rex Ryan to call defensive plays for the first time, and stacked with a load of talent, Baltimore finished fifth in the league in total defense. They led the NFL in that category this season.

    Throughout Bill Cowher’s tenure with the Steelers, he saw several of his coordinators become head coaches yet his teams still experienced tremendous success. One example is found in 2004. Offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey left Cowher’s staff to become head coach of the Buffalo Bills. With Ken Whisenhunt running the offense for the first time, the Steelers enjoyed a 15-1 season and a year later won the Super Bowl. Whisenhunt has now moved on to become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

    And veteran Charger fans can be reminded of a similar situation that the Bolts experienced during the “Air Coryell” days. Following a 12-4 season in 1979, offensive guru Jim Hanifan left Don Coryell’s staff to become the head coach of the then St. Louis Cardinals. The next season, the Chargers posted an 11-5 record and won the AFC West.

    A year later, offensive coordinator Joe Gibbs earned his first head coaching job as he joined the Washington Redskins. Still, 1981 brought a 10-6 record and a third-consecutive AFC West title.

    “I’m excited for our coaches that have new challenges and opportunities ahead of them, but we’ve still got unfinished business to take care,” Schottenheimer said. “Nothing about our mindset has changed. We’re going to do everything we can to bring a championship to San Diego, and I’m fully confident that we’ll field a coaching staff that is capable of doing that.”

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