Chargers brass shores up the line
The San Diego Chargers signed Mike Goff on Friday to a five year deal. Goff, an Iowa alum, was a starter for the Cincinnati Bengals in 61 of his last 64 games. Goff is another former third round pick snatched up by the Bolts. He was signed to play right guard and immediately becomes the elder statesman on the offensive line – at 28.
The 6-5, 306 pound Casablanca fan, opened the 2003 season as the starting center, but was switched the following week back to right guard, the position at which he started for Bengals the previous three seasons.
Marty Schottenheimer penciled Goff in at right guard for the Chargers while introducing him during a press conference on Friday saying, “Mike Goff, San Diego Chargers right guard.”
Goff began by thanking the organization for brining him in and mentioned Lorenzo Neal, Tim Dwight and LaDainian Tomlinson as reasons for coming to San Diego. He was eager to be reunited with Dwight, a former college teammate, and Neal, a former teammate with the Bengals.
He also mentioned the mindset of the Chargers team over the past two seasons. Even in losing situations, the Bolts never gave up. That intrigued Goff.
“We had quite a lead and they didn’t give up,” Goff said of last year’s Bengals-Chargers game. “The way they fought. Even if the score was bad they still fought and never gave up. That is a key characteristic (of a winning club).”
Concerning LT, he had nothing but praise:
“He is just an amazing back,” Goff said. “He reminds me of Barry Sanders, but bigger. He makes something out of nothing. He can rush for 3,000 yards. I am excited to play with a guy that is that talented.
“That takes a lot of pressure off the offensive lineman. We still have to make the hole. When you have a back who can see that crease, it just makes our job easier.”
Goff was an integral part of an offensive line that supported the three top individual rushing seasons in Bengals history in his three years as starter, with running back Corey Dillon gaining 1311 yards in 2002 after gaining 1435 in ’00 and 1315 in ’01.
Schottenheimer viewed his leadership among them many factors that brought the team to terms with the offensive lineman.
“He brings a combination of toughness and determination to what we are trying to do here,” Schottenheimer said. “He has been a leader for the last four years.”
Goff echoed the coaches’ sentiments and spoke in similar terms to the message Steve Foley spoke of the previous day.
“I hope to bring a little leadership,” Goff said. “It has been brought to my attention that I am the oldest lineman of the group. I have been battle tested enough that I can help a lot of the younger guys in different situations.”
Goff stressed communication as the key between the linemen. With another new group of five coming together for ’04, that communication will be key.
“You need to build a team with the same common goal. Once you get that group together and start off in the right direction.”
Last year, the Chargers hoped to have that in a revamped secondary and it failed. The team is hoping for much better results this time around.
“I have been a group of five for the last four years. I don’t think there will be a problem us adjusting together as a group. You have to know what the other guys are thinking. It is important to communicate so if a blitz or stunt happens it won’t be a disaster.”
The Chargers have addressed the interior of the line, but work remains. Currently the team does not have a starting left tackle and would enter the season with Courtney Van Buren at right tackle. While the rookie showed promise last year, he is not looked at as being ready just yet.
Still out there is Ephraim Salaam, formerly of Denver, but the Miami Dolphins are in hot pursuit. Another intriguing name that figures to now draw interest is Ryan Young, let go by the Cowboys.