Mark Craig: A familiar face returns to sidelines

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 3, 2007 - 2:43 PM

Ted Cottrell stepped in and weathered a rough start as Chargers defensive coordinator.

SAN DIEGO — Former Vikings defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell was enjoying the good life working as an appeals officer at the NFL office in New York City last year.

"Go to work at 8 a.m., done by 5, 5:30 p.m.," Cottrell said. "I called it my 'humanoid' hours. It was a nice break. A lot less stressful, that's for sure."

But Cottrell is a football coach. Has been every year since 1973, except for last season.

So it was only natural he would say yes when the opportunity to become the Chargers' defensive coordinator presented itself. The Chargers were a league-best 14-2, led the league in sacks and were seventh in scoring defense last year.

"It was a natural fit," Cottrell said. "It's the 3-4 defense Wade [Phillips] and I ran in Buffalo. I made a few subtle changes, but nothing big."

The Chargers were scrambling in mid-February when A.J. Smith, the team's general manager, fired coach Marty Schottenheimer nearly a full month after he turned a dominant regular season into yet another one of his first-game post-season stumbles. By that time, both coordinators already had been hired as head coaches elsewhere -- offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in Miami and Phillips in Dallas.

The Chargers needed some stability. Fast. Norv Turner, who installed the Chargers offense when he was there as coordinator in 2001, was hired from San Francisco as head coach. Smith also knew Cottrell, having been in Buffalo's front office back when Cottrell's defenses were among the league's best in the late 1990s.

Today, Cottrell returns to the Metrodome, where he coached many of the current Vikings as defensive coordinator from 2004-2005.

"It's a crazy business we're in, and it definitely will be strange to be standing over on that other sideline," said Cottrell, who was fired along with Mike Tice and the Vikings' staff following the 2005 season. "And guys like Antoine [Winfield] and Pat [Williams], we go back even to Buffalo. Those are guys I helped recruit to Minnesota. D-Sharp [Darren Sharper], too. So it will be emotional for me."

The worst thing about inheriting a 14-2 team is the possibility of losing for the third time early. The Chargers (4-3) picked up their third loss in Week 4. They lost at New England, at Green Bay and home to Kansas City -- three teams with a combined 18-4 record.

"I don't think there's any more pressure taking over a 14-2 team than one with a losing record," Cottrell said. "It's a win-now league no matter what the situation."

The normal adjustment period for a new coordinator and his players was slowed considerably on a cool Sunday night in Foxboro in Week 2.

"Someone came up to me right before the Patriots game and said Matt Wilhelm, our inside backer and the guy who calls our plays, pulled a calf muscle in pregame," Cottrell said. "I said 'He what?' That was a huge blow."

The Chargers lost to New England 38-14 and dropped two more consecutive games while Wilhelm was sidelined. Since then, the Chargers have won three in a row, beating Denver, Oakland and Houston by a combined score of 104-27.

The Chargers are tied for third in takeaways with 14. Their turnover margin is plus-12 in the four victories and minus-4 in the three losses.

"We're starting to see our mistakes and Ted is correcting them every week," said outside linebacker Shawne Merriman. "When we do that, it can be scary how good we can be with as much talent as we have."

Cottrell said he's still hoping for two things as he makes his way through his 24th NFL season at age 60.

"I want to win a Super Bowl, and I still want to be head coach in this league," Cottrell said. "So here I am. Back at it, still chasing the dream."

Mark Craig • mcraig@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - J. Guthrie 7:07 PM
San Francisco - T. Hudson
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 6:00 PM
Orlando
New York 6:30 PM
Toronto
San Antonio 7:00 PM
Houston
Miami 7:00 PM
Memphis
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Chicago
Phoenix 8:00 PM
Utah
Sacramento 9:00 PM
LA Lakers
Denver 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Dallas 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Tampa Bay 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Vancouver 8:00 PM
Colorado
Carolina 8:30 PM
Edmonton
Columbus 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 7:00 PM
Chicago
Montreal 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who wins and loses in football this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close