2001 NFL Football Preview

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San Diego Chargers

Offseason makeover may prelude run toward .500

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Posted: Friday July 20, 2001 11:54 AM

  • 2001 schedule
  • Head coach: Mike Riley (third season, 9-23-0 career)
  • Stadium: Qualcomm Stadium
  • Chargers all-time record: 298-321-11
  • 2000 rankings: Offense, 28th; Defense, 13th
  • 2000 team statistics
  • 2000 season results
  • Chargers alerts from CNNSI.com!
  • City Page: San Diego, Calif. 

    San Diego opens its training camp at the University of California-S.D. in La Jolla, Calif. on July 22.

    By Jon A. Dolezar, CNNSI.com

    Teams coming off a 1-15 season aren't supposed to be optimistic. But most teams don't overhaul their entire roster in offseason, either. New general manager John Butler has mixed young talent with high-priced veteran acquisitions, and the result should be the Chargers moving out of the league cellar and toward a .500 record.

    The Chargers can make the playoffs if ... the stars align and all of Butler's offseason moves turn to gold. San Diego is certainly improved from a year ago -- and could make an improbable run at a wild-card spot -- but playing in the stacked AFC West makes a miraculous turnaround from 1-15 to a .500 team unlikely, despite the significant talent upgrade.

    Pivotal games: Oct. 21 vs. Denver; Nov. 18 at Oakland. A 1-7 home record usually doesn't bode well, so the Chargers have plenty of room for improvement there. San Diego's toughest early season home test comes when the Broncos visit in Week 7. The mid-November visit to Oakland comes a week after a road game in Denver, which kicks off the toughest stretch on the schedule with four road games in five weeks.

    On the hot seat: It's hard for an NFL rookie to be on the hot seat before he's played, but LaDainian Tomlinson has a ton of pressure on his shoulders. L.T. is being asked to upgrade the Chargers' league-worst unit. Att the first sign of rookie struggles, fans will remind him that they could've had quarterback Michael Vick.

    Up-and-coming: Middle linebacker Orlando Ruff started 14 games in his second season, making 56 tackles and one interception for the fourth-best rushing defense in the league. With defensive end Marcellus Wiley added to the defense, Ruff is a candidate for a breakout season.

    Sports Illustrated's season preview will post Aug. 29.

  • AFC West Previews: Broncos | Chiefs | Raiders | Chargers | Seahawks

    San Diego Offseason Movement
    Signings  Departures 
    Tim Dwight, WR  Robert Chancey, FB 
    Ed Ellis, RT  Tony Darden, CB 
    Doug Flutie, QB  Michael Dumas, FS 
    Albert Fontenot, DE  Terrell Fletcher, RB 
    DeMingo Graham, G  Kevin Gogan, G 
    Kendyl Jacox, C  Jim Harbaugh, QB 
    Reggie Jones, WR  DeRon Jenkins, CB 
    Ryan McNeil, CB  Ryan Leaf, QB 
    Alex Molden, CB  Daryll Lewis, CB 
    Wade Richey, K  Moses Moreno, QB 
    Sam Rogers, LB  John Reeves, LB 
    Raleigh Roundtree, G    
    Marcellus Wiley, DE    
    Jamal Williams, DT    

    Chargers' 2001 Draft Picks
    Round  Overall Pick  Player  Pos.  School 
    LaDainian Tomlinson  HB  TCU 
    32  Drew Brees  QB  Purdue 
    67  Tay Cody  CB  Florida St. 
    112  Carlos Polk  ILB  Nebraska 
    132  Elliot Silvers  OT  Washington 
    139  Zeke Moreno  ILB  USC 
    201  Brandon Gorin  OT  Purdue 
    244  Robert Carswell  Clemson  

    Related information
    Dr. Z's NFL Power Rankings
    The NFL in '01: Ten faces in new places
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