When you look at the leaders of the San Diego Chargers, Ladainian Tomlinson comes to mind. But to have a great team, you must not just have a single leader, you must have many great leaders.
In this slide show I will give my opinion on who the leaders on this Charger team are.
I will go through the following levels of the team:
The former undrafted defensive lineman out of Indiana turned out to be a two time pro bowler at left guard. He plays with a nasty streak and is as hard-nosed as they come. He plays through pain and is just as good run blocking as he is pass blocking. He never complains and is not about the spot light.
After the 2006 season, Dielman turned down more money from the Seattle Seahawks and resigned a five year deal with the Chargers.
At age 28, Dielman will be leading this teams offensive line for many years to come.
(Honorable mention: Nick Hardwick)
One of the most prolific tight ends in the leagues history, Antonio Gates is exactly what you look for in a tight end as well as a leader.
The former basketball player and undrafted free agent out of Kent State has blown up the score bored since entering the league, becoming the fastest tight end to reach 50 touchdowns in a career and being the only tight end to record 13 touchdowns in a single season.
As well as being a great player, Gates is also a class act off the field and is a true professional. Playing through injuries and never complaining, Gates is the ideal Tight End for any team.
Although injured last year Gates still scored a team leading eight touchdowns as well as gaining a respectable 704 yards.
When fully healthy he is a dangerous as they come.
Hopefully by next year this spot will be Vincent Jackson, but with his recent (second) DUI he obviously isn't ready to be a leader at this point.
After coming to the team in a 2007 trade from Miami, in exchange for a second round pick, Chambers brought stability to the Chargers receiving core that hasn't been seen in ages. Besides giving Rivers another viable option (besides Gates), Chambers also helped with the aforementioned Vincent Jackson development to become one of the most promising young receivers the Chargers have seen in recent years. (If he could only learn not to drink and drive...)
Chambers started strong last year scoring five touchdowns in the first five games but due to an injury (coincidentally at Miami) he flared out towards the end of the season. But with that said he is still the hard-working veteran the young Chargers recovering core needs.
This one is obvious. After playing in a 2007 playoff game against the Patriots with a torn ACL, Rivers earned just about everyone's respect, and made his teammates respect him that much more than they already did.
Rivers is the undisputed leader of the Chargers team—he is tough, smart and is a proven winner.
He is a hard worker and a good family man with a true love for the game. He is a true leader.
And he led the NFL last year in pass rating, the best touchdown/interception ratio, and tied for most touchdowns thrown at 34(Brees)—a franchise record as well.
Another really obvious one. LT has been one of the most dominant players at the his position since he entered the league. He holds many records including the most rushing touchdowns in a single season (28 in 2006) and he is currently second all-time in career rushing touchdowns at 126 in only eight seasons, behind only Emmitt Smith.
Ladainian is a class act on and off the field and is a not only a leader for the running backs, but also for the entire team.
After restructuring his deal for three more years it makes it more likely that this future hall of famer will retire a Charger.
Even at 33 and with bad knees, Jamal Williams is still one of the most dominant defensive lineman in the NFL. The Chargers nose tackle plays with a mean streak and constantly pushes up the middle commanding double and triple teams.
Mean, vicious, big and strong: Williams is exactly what you need to be able to run a 3-4 defense effectively. Without Williams commanding double teams and attacking the gaps of the offensive line, the run defense becomes ineffective because your linebackers aren't free to attack as well as your pass rush being less effective because of the extra freed up offensive lineman.
As well as his fantastic play, Jamal gives the defense a mean mentality and when he is in the game, he makes everyone better.
Merriman showed how important he is after missing all but one game last year. The Chargers defensive sack numbers dropped significantly going from 42 in 2007 to 28 last year. Their pass defense became the 31st worse in the league, ahead of only the Seattle Seahawks. Although part of the defensive struggles did lay on Chargers former Defensive Coordinator Ted Cortrell, even after Ron Rivera took over and made the defensive unit much better it still clearly lacked the dominant pass rusher it needed.
With Merriman back to the team he makes everyone better:
-The defensive backs don't have to cover as long
-The other OLBs are freed up, like Shaun Philips, making the pass rush very dangerous
-More passes are forced creating more opportunity for a turnover
Shawne plays with an intense passion that fires up his teammates, and the crowd.
(Honorable mention: Shaun Phillips)
Another undrafted free agent turned starter is Stephen Cooper (out of Maine). In my opinion, he is the most underrated player on the Chargers roster.
He is a quarterback on the defensive side of the ball and knows the way teams are going to attack. He was a former QB in high school and seems to have a real grasp on the way teams move and adjust at the line of scrimmage. Any Charger fan loves watching Coop go back and forth with Peyton Manning.
After missing the first four games of the season due to suspension, everyone saw what a difference Stephen Cooper really made on this team. He is a hard-nosed player who loves contact, and although he is not the biggest linebacker, he plays with his heart on his sleeve and hits with reckless intent.
Although it took him a couple years, Jammer has truly become a shutdown corner. In my opinion, Jammer is probably the best tackler on the entire team and is probably the hardest hitting corner in the NFL.
Jammer leads by example and is quiet on and off the field. He is a hard worker who has mastered every aspect of being a corner, although he dose not have good hands (they are actually pretty bad), when you have a corner who can force three fumbles and intercept two passes in one season, you are usually in good shape.
After a year in 2007 when everyone thought Antonio Cromartie was the next Dieon Sanders, Quentin Jammer showed that he is the much much better corner on the team, being one of the few bright spots on the secondary this year.
Thanks for reading I hope you enjoyed.
Let me know what you agree/disagree on.
Your feedback is well appreciated.