Chargers Look to Save Season by Firing Cottrell... Will They?

Eric GomezAnalyst IOctober 30, 2008

Facing the real possibility of missing the playoffs despite playing in one of the weakest divisions of the NFL, the San Diego Chargers decided to address their most glaring weakness by firing defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell on Tuesday.

With former Chicago Bears coordinator Ron Rivera stepping in for Cottrell, the Chargers have eight games to surmount a one-and-a-half game deficit to the Denver Broncos.

Rivera immediately pledged to be more aggressive than his predecessor, without going so far as to say it would be his only modus operandi.

At 3-5 going into their bye week, the Chargers have all but wasted their offense's efforts, which places second in the league at 28 points per game.

Their defense, on the other hand, allows nearly 25 points per game and ranks 28th in the league at 371.6 yards allowed per game.

While the decision to fire Cottrell itself seems to have received positively by many San Diego fans, the team must now be left to wonder if the timing was correct.

Despite not being nearly out of the divisional race in the AFC West, the Chargers remaining schedule features opponents such as the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11, the Indianapolis Colts in Week 12, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 16.

San Diego also dropped their first meeting with the Denver Broncos in Week 2, which could have negative ramifications for the Bolts should a tiebreak decide the division champion.

While many point out Cottrell's inflexible and conservative defensive schemes as the main reason for his departure, the defensive unit has also been hobbled with injuries to starters and reserves alike.

Pro Bowl CB Antonio Cromartie has been bothered by a hip injury, DT Jamal Williams had knee troubles and LB Shaun Phillips has played through a groin problem.

Also, LB Shawne Merriman, arguably the team's best player — is out for the season with ligament damage in his knee.

With the bye week in front of them, San Diego's defense will have time to adjust to their new coach's philosophy before coming back to action in Week 10 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

After a dismal first eight games, the Chargers and their fans will be in for a stressful second half of the season, with one question resonating in all their minds:

Will it be enough?