The defense is improved, thanks to the arrival of All-Pro outside linebacker Chip Banks from Cleveland. Not that the defense was so bad last season. The Chargers were seventh in the NFL against the run. They also were second (behind the Raiders) in sacks with 62, because of a brilliant rookie, Leslie O'Neal—who's out this season with a knee injury—and the emergence of linebacker Billy Ray Smith as a first-rate rusher. With Banks blitzing from the right—or Lawrence Taylor—side, a switch that fills Banks with joy, San Diego will again make life unpleasant for quarterbacks. Rookie Louis Brock, a nifty little bump-and-run cornerback, should make the secondary better, too.
Former Raider executive Steve Ortmayer has brought stability and competence to San Diego as director of football operations. The draft, which supplied last year's best collegiate tight end, Rod Bernstine, to team with Kellen Winslow and the usual cast of thousands of other receivers, was productive. But the Chargers have relied on Fouts's magic for a long time. Without him, or a trade for a Fouts facsimile, the motor just won't have the necessary spark.
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