With the San Diego Chargers losing Shawne Merriman for the season, who will emerge as the defense's new emotional leader? The Chargers lost much more than just a good player; they lost a team captain, a leader on defense, a guy who teammates feed off of. Merriman was the most feared man on that defense, and without him, who will bring the intensity and fire to the huddle and on the sidelines?
Quentin Jammer and Jamal Williams are great players; veterans who guys look up to. Their way is to lead by example, by taking care of business on the field. They aren't big rah-rah guys and they don't get into people's faces.
Guys like Luis Castillo, Shaun Phillips, and Steven Cooper play with passion and have the potential to step up and lead the defense. Can they be players their teammates rally around? Will they step up their games and force opposing offenses to gameplan around them?
This was supposed to be the Chargers big year, the year they finally make it to the Super Bowl. Certainly losing a player of Shawne Merriman's caliber hurts the Chargers' defense on the field. But only time will tell as to what type of intangible impact the loss of Merriman will have.
The defense was criticized for poor tackling and playing with a lack of intensity. Without Merriman, how much worse will it get? At this point, I wonder if a trade is in the works? If the Chargers want to leapfrog the Colts, Steelers, Cowboys, and Patriots, they can do it by retooling. But who is out there? Every team thinks they have a chance right now, so it wont be easy to steal away a good pass rusher via trade. The only guy who I can think of is Terrell Suggs from Baltimore. He would be a one year rental essentially, because the Ravens franchised him (you can trade a franchised player, right?). But it'll take a lot to get him, and the Chargers might be comfortable with going with Phillips, Tucker, Harris. We'll just have to wait and see what happens on Sunday. But AJ Smith will make the occasional mid-season trade if he thinks he can help the team (Chris Chambers) so I wouldn't rule it out completely.
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