It had been widely assumed that the Bolts were targeting former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky to organize their defensive unit next season and that came to fruition late Friday evening when the hire was announced by the team.
Manusky has a familiarity with the personnel in San Diego having spent the 2002-06 seasons as the linebackers coach with the Chargers and has a feel for a 3-4 scheme from his time with the 49ers. Still there is no where to go but down (at least statistically) for the Bolts defensively as they finished at the top of the league in total defense this past season including first in pass defense and fourth against the run.
Coaches with some bluster and a bit of swagger have been the trend in the league of late and it seems that Manusky comes with no shortage of confidence himself. Concerning his decision to come to the Bolts, Manusky said: “I want to go to the Super Bowl. I just ain't shuffling my feet. I've been doing that in San Francisco for four years. I'm sick of that. I want to take to the track and start running. I want to do something good." Bolts fans can certainly relate with those feelings after the disappointments of the last few seasons and hopefully Manusky’s hunger is what this defense needs to continue its growth as a unit.
Having had his choice of jobs with both the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals reportedly in the running as well for his services, the final decision to come to San Diego says something about his optimism for their defensive unit. There is still plenty of work to be done with the Bolts however as they were periodically gashed up the middle on the ground and need to find a solid foundation to build around at the line of scrimmage.
Statistics can often be misleading and the Chargers’ defense was outstanding for the most part all year long, but their propensity to make inexplicable mistakes at crucial moments just has to be rectified. Colossal lapses in concentration in coverage allowed opposing receivers to get wide open behind defenders on at least a handful of occasions during the year. Whether it was a schematic flaw or a blown coverage, these issues must be eliminated if this team wants to take a step forward in 2011.
That step forward could potentially include a huge upgrade at the cornerback position if team management actually decides to spend a little money this offseason.
Antoine Cason took over as the team’s number two corner in 2010 and under whelmed for the most part during what was his third year in the league. Quentin Jammer has somehow managed to get better with age on the other side refining his craft and excelling in the Bolts’ defensive scheme. Still moving him into the number two spot and getting Cason into his natural fit as a nickel corner would be ideal for the Bolts.
How could this be accomplished you ask? Many of you have probably already realized that the target of this topic is former Oakland Raiders’ corner Nnamdi Asomugha who is the newest free agent to hit the market. Asomugha’s contract had a clause in it that voided the deal if he failed to meet certain benchmarks on a yearly basis. Opponents rarely if ever throw in his direction thus making it difficult for him to accumulate any stats of note.
Although Asomugha is the type of free agent that this team typically avoids, at 29 years of age he is still in the prime of his career and would give the Chargers two legitimate number one corners. Even though they were already ranked atop the league in pass defense, complacency is the enemy and the front office needs to continue its quest to get this team to a Super Bowl. If the draft picks aren’t panning out the way everyone has expected them to, the next logical step would be to turn toward free agency in building this team going forward.
After watching the San Diego Chargers East, errr, New York Jets advance to the AFC Championship game this weekend, Bolts fans have to be a bit conflicted on just how to feel about their former players. That Jets team is the prime example of just what a duo of number one corners can produce when they are playing at their highest level. It may be a long shot to see Asomugha as a Charger in 2011, but a short-term incentive laden deal could be something worth considering from a front office perspective.
While most teams strive to win games in January, the Chargers focus for this upcoming season needs to be on earning more victories in September. With the same coach and very similar personnel, reversing those fortunes is going to take some dedicated preparation from the players and a concerted effort to be ready to play from the opening kickoff of week one. The mentality of ‘one game at a time’ has never been more relevant than it will be for the Bolts in the coming season. Let’s just hope they can exercise the demons of these slow starts in seasons past and come out of the gates with some enthusiasm for a more successful 2011 season.
Now it’s up to you. What do you think about the Chargers hiring Greg Manusky as the new defensive coordinator? Can Manusky potentially bring the bravado that this club has lacked in recent years and give them a new motivation and focus? Is the idea of landing Nnamdi Asomugha a realistic expectation with Cason’s struggles or simply a pipe dream from way out of left field? What were your thoughts on seeing the Jets (with all of the former Chargers) advance to the AFC title game this past weekend? Will 2011 bring a different mentality and approach to the year for the Bolts team and front office or will it be more of the same laissez-faire attitude in San Diego? Please give your input in the comments section below!
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