The Chargers are one of those NFL teams, that need a boost of adrenaline to get things going. There seems to be a lack of excitement within the fanbase and optimism appears to be somewhat contrived off of desperate theories. The truth of the matter is that their quarterback Philip Rivers is thirty-three years old and this is a team that seems to be in flux for the last three seasons.
The word “optimism” has been mentioned already, but Rivers is a big part of that “optimism.” Rivers is on the road to becoming a quarterback who has put up great stats in his career but will never win a Super Bowl. It’s a shame, because for a while it seemed as if this Chargers organization was on the right track. . . Last year, Rivers had a total of twenty turnovers – not all were his fault though. Rivers tossed for over four-thousand yards but did not have a single one-thousand yard receiver by season’s end. Seems like he was doing his part in the passing game. . .
Keenan Allen was expected to put up big numbers in his sophomore season, but totaling 783 yards and four touchdowns, doesn’t exactly scream “big numbers.” He often seemed to not be on the same page with Rivers and was a different player half-to-half (looking better in the second half of games, usually). Malcolm Floyd has been on the Chargers for what seems like forever and he’s a big body guy with speed – but is it just time to move passed Floyd? He’s never really become the guy we all expected him to be and their off-season acquisition of Stevie Johnson – who is obviously better suited for the slot receiver role – can challenge the other two in getting more looks from Rivers. When motivated and when he has his head on straight, Johnson is actually a fearless well rounded wide out. Antonio Gates has been suspended for four games which means that the much over-hyped Ladarius Green becomes the number one tight end, at least to start the season. Green is next in line to Gates, but hasn’t been able to out-play the veteran so he’s been kept on the sidelines for the most part.
The offensive line suffered a huge loss with the retirement of center Nick Hardwick (guard Jeromey Clary retired as well) but the Chargers seemed to have done enough to make this unit a formidable one. The Chargers signed Orlando Franklin to man one of the guard spots and they kept King Dunlap on at left tackle. D.J. Fluker has been a focus of the coaching staff’s to better develop his technique against the pass rush. Knowing the kind of quarterback Philip Rivers is, he is developing chemistry with his sophomore center Chris Watt as we speak. . .
The running game had a spark set off by undrafted rookie Brandon Oliver, but that spark was short lived and the 5’7″ running back found himself struggling to get his legs going. The Chargers decided to go into this year’s draft and address their running back issue, so in the first round they selected Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon. Gordon broke Barry Sanders’ college record by rushing for 2587 yards last year, that’s enough for anyone to have huge expectations moving forward. What’s amazing about Gordon is that Wisconsin is a run-first, run-second and run-third type of offense and opposing teams still couldn’t put a lid on him. He did play behind a good offensive line, but his ability to cut without losing speed is remarkable. He could be the player that the Chargers have needed for a long time and the Chargers are hoping for a quicker return on their investment then their other Melvin who they used a first round pick on three years ago. . .
Linebacker Melvin Ingram was the Chargers first round pick in the 2012 draft and things haven’t turned out as the Chargers would have liked. His rookie season was the only time he played a full sixteen games and it was also the season in which he recorded his most tackles (41). It is unlikely Ingram wakes up from this mediocrity, and mediocrity is what this linebacker core is dressed in. Manti Te’o gets manhandled and Jerry Attaochu is expected to get with the program quickly this season or will find his playing time to become limited.
The lack of aggressiveness in this line-backing group will force hard hitting strong safety Jahleel Addae to play closer to the line of scrimmage instead of free safety Eric Weddle. This is because Weddle is bit more versatile and a more natural player than Addae who really just wants to hit people. Veteran Brandon Flowers and second year man Jason Verrett are the corner backs. Verrett’s body gave out on him early in his rookie season which is alarming, but if his body can hold up, he can turn out to be a good man-to-man coverage guy.
The secondary will have to work hard, because most opposing quarterbacks won’t be under much pressure when playing this defense. Outside of defensive end Corey Liuget, there is not much heat coming from this defensive line. Liuget will often have two sets of eyes on him because of this, limiting his impact on a game. Somebody needs to step up on this defensive line and depending where he ultimately gets lined up it may be rookie Darius Philon. Philon was a defensive tackle in Arkansas, but his lack of strength at that position might be a task for him at the pro level. He does move extremely well for a man of his size though and can prove to be disruptive if used and protected correctly.
This offense will be fun to watch, especially if Keenan Allen grows into his own as a number one receiver. For the most part their schedule isn’t packed with juggernaut offenses, but against this defense expect even an average offense to come away with some extra opportunities.
Predicted Record: 7-9
Predicted Pro Bowlers: King Dunlap, Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen
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