As a result, Junior's Farm has become Marty's Mill, though the difference is not as pronounced as one might think. "I don't care what anyone says—we've always worked hard here," says Pro Bowl strong safety Rodney Harrison. "We may have lacked talent last season and we may have lacked discipline, but we didn't lack heart."
Schottenheimer would be hard-pressed to disagree. Early in training camp, he choked up as he told the Chargers that they were the hardest-working team he's ever seen. He says he thinks San Diego can win now, even with a second-year quarterback—Drew Brees—who has thrown only 27 NFL passes running the show. This is a coach who likes to ride his defense, and the additions of free-agent middle linebacker Donnie Edwards and rookie cornerback Quentin Jammer, the fourth pick in the draft out of Texas, should bolster an already strong unit.
There's no question who remains the main man. " Junior Seau is one of the top two or three linebackers ever to play," Schottenheimer says. "I think he goes home at night and plugs himself into a socket. I've never been around a human being with as much energy."
Seau's penchant for making educated guesses is also legendary, and that's where the adjustment to Schottenheimer and his schemes could get sticky. As Harrison says, "There's no room for freelancing in this defense. If you're out of position, you're going to get burned."
Seau and Schottenheimer downplay any philosophical conflict. The coach says he'll allow for his star's "playmaker" tendencies, and Seau says, "There's no scheme I haven't played in or against, so it's not that big a deal." Right now, only the Pacific is making waves in San Diego, and it's likely to stay that way for as long as Seau chooses.
If all goes as planned, when the mai tais start flowing next February, Junior will have the last laugh.
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