San Diego Chargers Look to 2009 for Much Needed Defensive Improvement.

travis proctorCorrespondent IMay 22, 2009

SAN DIEGO - MAY 03: Linebackers Shawne Merriman #56 and Larry English #52 of the San Diego Chargers have a discussion during minicamp at the Chargers training facility on May 3, 2009 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevin Terrell/Getty Images)

After the 2008 season the biggest question facing the San Diego Chargers is: Can they create a successful pass rush? The Chargers had an extremely up-and-down season in  2008. The offense remained fairly consistent in its ability to move the ball and also strike quickly, while the defense struggled game-in and game-out in their attempts to put pressure on the quarterback.

While it is no question that the loss of Shawn Merriman created a huge hole in their defense, it will still take more than him alone to ensure success in 2009. The first round pick of Larry English will hopefully provide an added lift for the defense. Many people saw the pick as possibly a future replacement for the all-pro Merriman, but why not use both?

After finishing 2008 dead last in pass defense it appears the Chargers could use all the help they can get and English could provide a very strong presence opposite Merriman. It is fair to say that the struggles the Chargers had in 2008 were a surprise to most, but their inability to get off the field on 3rd-and-long ended up being their Achilles Heel.

The 2008 season started with great optimism and hope for the San Diego Chargers and while they did finish strong it was very evident that they weren't ready to win a championship. As 2009 has been set in motion, the Chargers return with greater optimism and hope for the new year. With most the key starters returning and hopefully a healthy LaDainian Tomlinson also returning to the lineup the Chargers look to finally live up to the hype and bring home the first championship in franchise history.