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PFW: Changes Coming for the Chargers D in 09

From: Pro Football Weekly

With their defense as a whole struggling in 2008, offseason changes are coming for the Chargers. But from what we hear, they likely will be directed toward the on-field personnel, and not the coaching staff.

All indications are that head coach Norv Turner will return in ’09, and defensive coordinator Ron Rivera will be back, too, as long as he doesn’t leave to take a head-coaching job elsewhere. The jobs of the players, however, aren’t as safe.

It’s been known for a while that DE Igor Olshansky won’t be in San Diego next season, as he’s set to become a free agent and will be asking for too much money. We hear that the team feels comfortable replacing him with versatile reserve Ryon Bingham, who has notched 1.5 sacks on the year.

At the linebacker spot, the Bolts obviously are set on the outside, where they’ve received solid production from Shaun Phillips and Jyles Tucker, who have combined for 11 sacks. The return of Shawne Merriman next season will even further strengthen the unit, as Tucker will be able to become more of a pass-rushing specialist. Many point to Merriman’s absence as the main reason the “D” has had such a poor campaign.

Alterations are expected to come on the inside, though, as San Diego has been lacking a playmaker next to Stephen Cooper, who has had a terrific year even after being suspended for the first four games. They have tried a few different players at that spot, but none has made a significant impact. An upgrade there is something the club probably will address in the coming months.

In the secondary, both CB Quentin Jammer and FS Eric Weddle have given the Chargers solid play and will stay put. CB Antonio Cromartie isn’t going anywhere either, but he’ll need to make improvements after appearing to regress this season. We hear that the only change could come at strong safety, where Clinton Hart hasn’t made anywhere near the contribution he did in ’07. That certainly will be a position the front office examines this offseason.

After the defense was kept intact following last season’s surge, some sort of shakeup is sure to occur at the conclusion of this disappointing year, which likely will see the Bolts watching the playoffs on TV.

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