Average Charger secondary will benefit from weak schedule

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Average Charger secondary will benefit from weak schedule
By Connor J. Byrne on June 28, 2006 12:10 AM

This offseason, most of the focus in San Diego has regarded the Chargers' new starting quarterback, Philip Rivers, who is set to take over for former Pro Bowler Drew Brees. Because the team is on the hook for Rivers' enormous salary, they were forced to let Brees, an unrestricted free agent, sign a $60 million deal with the New Orleans Saints .

Undoubtedly, one of the Chargers' biggest areas of concern entering the season is their secondary. Last season, San Diego's defense finished a paltry 28th against the pass, as opposing offenses exploited the Bolts' obvious weakness.

Over the past few months, general manager A.J. Smith has tried earnestly to upgrade the defensive backfield, but it's a wonder whether or not he actually has. The busier days of the offseason saw the San Diego Chargers sign a veteran defensive back in free agency, trade former first round cornerback Sammy Davis to the San Francisco 49ers , and draft a corner in this year's first round.

The Chargers' key signing for the secondary occurred when they struck an accord with projected starting free safety Marlon McCree. The five-year veteran experienced one of his best seasons last year, as he racked up 88 tackles (74 solo) and a trio of interceptions for the Carolina Panthers . McCree was certainly a surprise for the contending Panthers, since he was supposed to be a backup.

The 5-11, 202-pound McCree should prove to be a solid acquisition for the Chargers. However, he's not the type of elite safety that many teams want, nor does he instill fear into the hearts of opposing quarterbacks or receivers.

In April's draft, the Chargers used the 19th overall pick on ex-Florida State cornerback Antonio Cromartie. The 6-3, 209-pound Cromartie has great size and 4.4 speed, but his rawness is cause for concern in San Diego. As a member of the Seminoles, the 22-year-old made just one start, thanks mostly to a torn ACL that forced him to miss all of last season. He might be a future contributor, but likely won't help the Chargers this season.

Other than their two key pickups, the Chargers still start the same corners and strong safety from their 9-7 2005 campaign. No. 1 corner Quentin Jammer has been a disappointment in his four-year career, while three-year pro Drayton Florence hasn't been a whole lot better. The same can be said for former second-round strong safety Terrence Kiel, who failed to pick off any passes last year.

San Diego's secondary may appear weak on paper, but it gets the benefit of playing in a division not packed with great quarterback talent.

The Oakland Raiders are questionable with Aaron Brooks and Andrew Walter fighting for the starting job, but still have a great stable of wideouts. The Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs bring solid, yet containable veterans Jake Plummer and Trent Green to the table. The Broncos have an accomplished duo of receivers with Rod Smith and Javon Walker, however, while the Chiefs' wideouts are nowhere near elite.

Also, the Chargers' non-divisional schedule seems quite favorable for their secondary, too. The only teams they face with solidified starters at quarterback and receiver include the Pittsburgh Steelers , St. Louis Rams , Cincinnati Bengals , Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals .

The regular season is just over two months away, and the Chargers' defensive backfield doesn't appear to be high-caliber. However, the game isn't played on paper, and the secondary is the beneficiary of a relatively weak schedule. Against great passers and receivers, though, San Diego's corners and safeties will show their true, mediocre colors.

http://www.realfootball365.com/nfl/articles/2006/06/sandiego-chargers-secondary280606.html

I know some charger fans who are gonna absolutely flip over their secondary being called average!! :p
 
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