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Chargers, San Diego working toward new stadium

The Sports Xchange
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The Chargers are looking for a long-term stadium commitment and, without one, they'll only give San Diego a short-term guarantee that they'll stay in Qualcomm Stadium.

The Chargers and San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders released a joint statement saying they continue to work cooperatively toward their ultimate goal -- building a new stadium in San Diego.

"The City of San Diego and the Chargers continue to work closely together to explore publicly acceptable ways to build a new Super Bowl-quality stadium on the bus maintenance yard site in the East Village of downtown San Diego," the statement read. "To give this ongoing process every chance to succeed, the Chargers have announced that the team will not trigger the lease's termination clause in 2012. Both the Mayor's Office and the Chargers look forward to continuing their joint efforts to build a multi-use stadium that will benefit the entire region."

The Chargers have a lease through 2020 but the team does have an out clause to explore options annually from February through April.

Los Angeles can be ruled out, at least for now, according to Chargers general counsel Mark Fabiani. He told the Union-Tribune that the AEG group attempting to construct a stadium downtown Los Angeles has no chance to break ground this year.

Fabiani stressed that the Chargers remain hopeful of a stadium site in the East Village district of San Diego. The decision to stay put in 2012 goes back to the goal of a new stadium in their current city.

"We will continue to work closely with the mayor on developing the East Village bus maintenance site in downtown San Diego," said Fabiani, who is the team's head of stadium development.

--The Chargers wasted little time in finding their new defensive coordinator, promoting linebackers coach John Pagano just hours after Greg Manusky was fired Thursday.

Pagano, whose brother Chuck is the Baltimore Ravens' defensive coordinator, has spent the past 10 years on San Diego's staff, and has been the linebackers coach since 2005.

"John has worked extremely hard and been very patient to get this opportunity," coach Norv Turner said. "I'm excited about John's experience with this defense, his familiarity with our team and where we can go with his direction."

The Chargers finished the 2011 season ranked 16th in total defense, allowing 346.6 yards per game. They were 13th against the pass and 20th in defending the run.

"I think the No. 1 thing is that we come together as a defensive staff and we work together to get everybody going in one direction," Pagano said. "Our primary goal is to win the AFC West, but the ultimate goal is to win a Super Bowl."

Pagano is credited with helping develop several standout linebackers for the Chargers, including Shawne Merriman and Antwan Barnes, who had a career-high 11 sacks in 2011.

"We're going to go out and play fundamentally sound defense," Pagano said. "It's still about tackling the guy with the football and getting after the quarterback and covering people downfield. We're going to do what we need to do to help the Chargers win football games."

That Pagano replaced Manusky so quickly is the latest in a flurry of announcements from the Chargers, who retained Turner and general manager A.J. Smith earlier in the week.

"I'd like to thank Greg for the passion and enthusiasm he brought to our team and coaching staff this past season," said Turner.

The Chargers gave up 27 or more points in five of their eight losses. As recently as Monday, Turner said Manusky shouldn't be the fall guy. Turner said that he thought Manusky did well.

"I would not characterize the hiring of Greg Manusky as a mistake," Turner said. "He has done a good job for us. Losing so many guys and playing so many young players is difficult."

Turner then took a supposed swipe at Smith when noting Manusky didn't have much to work with.

"Defensively, it's all about having impact players," Turner said. "If you don't have players that can be a guy one-on-one and make a big play, you're not going to get the number of stops you need to get. It's been a hard year for all of us and a tough year for Greg, but I thought he did a good job."

--Chargers general manager A.J. Smith knows his recent work has him on the hot seat -- again. "I am aware that the owner was not happy," Smith said. "I was also aware that we've missed the playoffs two years in a row, which means two lost opportunities to chase the championship. That's a disappointment to all involved. ... Now that we've been retained, we'll get back to working on ways to improve this team in the future. I'm confident that Norv and I can help get this franchise turned around."

--LT Marcus McNeill said the reports of him considering retirement after his neck injury were overblown. "I think that was me not being around," McNeill said. "People couldn't get a vibe on how I was feeling and that I was going to be fine. I needed to take some time to myself and just evaluate everything. I'm back now and believe I'll be better than ever."

--Despite replacement Nick Novak converting on nearly 80 percent of his field goals, Nate Kaeding doesn't think he'll have a camp battle next year. "I don't anticipate (having to compete for my job)," Kaeding said. "I'm on track to come back and expect to pick up where I left off." Kaeding spent all but the first game on IR with a knee injury. Novak signed a two-year deal in September and will be in camp next summer with Kaeding.

--Linebackers coach John Pagano, who has been with the Chargers for 10 seasons, could be in line to become UCLA's new defensive coordinator under Jim Mora, Jr.

--WR Vincent Jackson could get the franchise tag again, which is OK considering it comes with an estimated $12 million price tag. Then again, after another 1,000-yard season, he would prefer a long-term deal. "But if the tag is given to me again then that's what will happen and I'll take it," he said. "It's obviously out of my hands."

--CB Quentin Jammer's game gave ground as the season came to a conclusion; the veteran was routinely beat in single coverage. But any thoughts of moving Jammer to safety were shot down by Turner.

--KR Richard Goodman was named the AFC special teams player of the week. Goodman had a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the 38-26 victory over the Raiders. He posted a 35.8-yard kickoff return average on six returns (215 yards). Goodman's 105-yard kickoff return was the longest in franchise history, besting the 103-yard return by Darren Sproles and Keith Lincoln. Goodman, though, was nearly a goat when fielding a kickoff on the Raiders' 1-yard line and barely avoiding a safety. "I was hoping it would go into the end zone so I could take a knee and take a touchback," he said. "But unluckily, it landed on the 1. If I could do it all over again, I would just pick the ball up and get down right away."

QUOTE TO NOTE
"They could've just thrown in the towel. We finished by winning four out of the last five. I believe that (Turner is) the right guy." -- Team president Dean Spanos on why he is retaining coach Norv Turner.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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