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2001 San Diego Chargers season

The 2001 San Diego Chargers season was the franchise's 32nd season in the National Football League (NFL) and the 42nd overall and the third and final season under head coach Mike Riley. The team improved on their 1–15 record in 2000 to finish 5–11 but missed the playoffs for the 6th straight year. It was Mike Riley’s final season as the team’s head coach. At the end of the season running back LaDainian Tomlinson won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Despite finishing 5–11 after losing their final nine games of the season, eight of the Chargers’ losses were by less than a touchdown and five of them were by three points.

2001 San Diego Chargers season
Head coachMike Riley
General managerJohn Butler
OwnerAlex Spanos
Home fieldQualcomm Stadium
Division place5th AFC West
Playoff finishdid not qualify
Pro BowlersLB Junior Seau
DE Marcellus Wiley
FS Ryan McNeil
SS Rodney Harrison


Becoming the “Bills West”Edit

In December 2000, Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson fired his general manager, John Butler, and his entire staff. The Chargers immediately signed Butler, and within weeks, Butler had lured several recognizable names from the 2000 Bills team: defensive end Marcellus Wiley, linebackers Sam Rogers and John Holecek, kicker Steve Christie and most notably, quarterback Doug Flutie, who had been cut by the Bills in a bitter quarterback controversy involving Rob Johnson. With so many former Bills connections, the team was often referred to as the “Bills West”.[1][2] (See also the 1995 Carolina Panthers season, in which Bill Polian brought several Bills contributors from the team's Super Bowl era to Carolina in its inaugural year of play.)

As such, the October 28 matchup between the Bills and Chargers in San Diego was heavily promoted as a dual grudge match, not just between Johnson and Flutie, but also between Wilson and Butler, with Wilson having been quoted as wanting to win the Chargers game more than the Super Bowl.[1] Despite the fact that the Bills were having a very bad season, and the Chargers’ fortunes (at the time) had turned significantly, the game was very competitive, coming down to the final minutes play. Trailing 24–20, Flutie scrambled 13 yards to put the Chargers up 27–24; when kicker Jake Arians attempted a 44-yard field goal to tie the game, it was blocked.[3] The Chargers, then 5–2, would not win another game the entire season, going 0–9 in the remaining nine games.

NFL DraftEdit

Michael Vick was selected in the 2001 NFL Draft as the first overall pick and first African American quarterback taken number 1 in the NFL Draft. The San Diego Chargers had the number one selection spot in the draft that year but traded the rights to the first overall choice to the Atlanta Falcons a day before the draft, for which they received the Falcons’ first round pick (5th overall) and third round pick in 2001 (used to draft CB Tay Cody), a second round pick in 2002 (used to draft WR Reche Caldwell) and WR/KR Tim Dwight.[4] With the Chargers’ downgraded spot (the 5th overall), they selected Texas Christian University running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who went on to become league MVP in 2006.[5] Although Vick has never become league MVP, he finished second in voting in 2004.[6] In this way, Tomlinson and Vick are linked as having been "traded" for each other, although the transaction was actually the result of traded draft picks and contract negotiations. The Chargers’ other notable draft pick was Drew Brees, who would eventually win Super Bowl XLIV as a member of the Saints.

2001 San Diego Chargers draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 5 LaDainian Tomlinson *   RB TCU Pick from ATL
2 31 Drew Brees *  QB Purdue
3 67 Tay Cody  CB Florida St Pick from ATL
4 112 Carlos Polk  LB Nebraska Pick from PIT
5 132 Elliot Silvers  OT Washington
5 139 Zeke Moreno  ILB USC Pick from New England Patriots
7 201 Brandon Gorin  OT Purdue
      Made roster    †   Pro Football Hall of Fame    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career



2001 San Diego Chargers staff
Front office
  • Chairman of the Board – Alex Spanos
  • President/Chief Executive Officer – Dean Spanos
  • Executive Vice President – Michael Spanos
  • Executive Vice President/General Manager – John Butler
  • Assistant General Manager/Director of Pro Personnel – A. J. Smith
  • Vice President of Football Operations – Ed McGuire
  • Director of Player Personnel – Buddy Nix
  • Director of College Scouting – Jimmy Raye

Head coaches

Offensive coaches

Defensive coaches

Special teams coaches

  • Special Teams – Bruce Read
  • Special Teams Assistant/Quality Control – Craig Dickenson

Strength and conditioning

  • Strength and Conditioning – John Hastings
  • Assistant Strength and Conditioning – Mike Schleelein


2001 San Diego Chargers final roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics
53 Active, 5 Inactive, 5 Practice squad

Regular seasonEdit


Week Date Opponent Result Network TV Time (PT) Attendance
1 September 9, 2001 Washington Redskins W 30–3 FOX 1:15pm
2 September 23, 2001 at Dallas Cowboys W 32–21 CBS 10:00am
3 September 30, 2001 Cincinnati Bengals W 28–14 CBS 1:15pm
4 October 7, 2001 at Cleveland Browns L 16–20 CBS 10:00am
5 October 14, 2001 at New England Patriots L 26–29 (OT) CBS 10:00am
6 October 21, 2001 Denver Broncos W 27–10 CBS 1:05pm
7 October 28, 2001 Buffalo Bills W 27–24 CBS 1:15pm
8 November 4, 2001 Kansas City Chiefs L 20–25 CBS 1:15pm
9 November 11, 2001 at Denver Broncos L 16–26 CBS 1:05pm
10 November 18, 2001 at Oakland Raiders L 24–34 CBS 1:05pm
11 November 25, 2001 Arizona Cardinals L 17–20 FOX 1:05pm
12 December 2, 2001 at Seattle Seahawks L 10–13 (OT) CBS 1:05pm
13 December 9, 2001 at Philadelphia Eagles L 14–24 CBS 10:00am
14 December 15, 2001 Oakland Raiders L 6–13 CBS 2:15pm
15 December 23, 2001 at Kansas City Chiefs L 17–20 CBS 10:00am
16 December 30, 2001 Seattle Seahawks L 22–25 CBS 1:15pm
17 Bye

Game summariesEdit

Week 1Edit

1 234Total
Redskins 0 030 3
• Chargers 10 10010 30
  • Date: September 9
  • Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
  • Game start: 1:15 p.m. PST
  • Elapsed time: 3 hours 2 minutes
  • Game attendance: 60,629
  • Game weather: 68 °F (20.0 °C); wind 8 miles per hour (13 km/h)
  • Referee: Jim Sprenger
  • TV announcers (FOX): Kenny Albert, Tim Green, and Dyrol Joyner

Week 7Edit

1 234Total
Bills 0 10014 24
• Chargers 10 3014 27



AFC West
(3) Oakland Raiders 10 6 0 .625 399 327 L3
Seattle Seahawks 9 7 0 .563 301 324 W2
Denver Broncos 8 8 0 .500 340 339 L1
Kansas City Chiefs 6 10 0 .375 320 344 L1
San Diego Chargers 5 11 0 .313 332 321 L9


  1. ^ a b Roth, Leo. Bills East vs. Bills West. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. October 23, 2001.
  2. ^ Banks, Don. AFC is where all the action is lately. October 19, 2001.
  3. ^ Flutie works his magic – again – to beat Bills 27–24. Associated Press. October 28, 2001.
  4. ^ ESPN – Chargers big winner in different draft-day deal – NFL
  5. ^ NFL Most Valuable Players – NFL MVP Player of the Year
  6. ^ Barry Wilner (January 11, 2005). "Manning NFL MVP again: 49 TDs, passing rating of 121.1 make Colts QB near-unanimous pick". The Decatur Daily. Retrieved May 23, 2007.[dead link]
  7. ^ Retrieved 2014-Oct-19.