The San Diego Chargers finished the 2012 season with a 7-9 record.
During the offseason, the Chargers fired head coach Norv Turner and brought in Mike McCoy from the Broncos to be their new head coach. The Chargers also signed running back Danny Woodhead, defensive end Dwight Freeney, cornerback Derek Cox, and offensive linemen Max Starks and Chad Rinehart.
To make room for these new players, San Diego parted ways with guard Louis Vasquez, defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin, linebackers Shaun Phillips and Takeo Spikes, and defensive backs Quentin Jammer, Atari Bigby and Antoine Cason.
With McCoy running the show in San Diego now, the team is looking to return to relevancy in the AFC. Here is the Chargers’ 2013-2014 season preview.
The Chargers offense in 2012 was putrid. The team finished 24th in the league in passing yards per game and 27th in rushing yards per game.
Phillip Rivers was once considered an elite quarterback by some NFL experts, but
those talks have died down after consecutive turnover filled, disappointing seasons. Over the past two seasons, Rivers has been responsible for 54 touchdowns and 46 turnovers. That won’t cut it this year.
There are two main reasons why Rivers has struggled over the past two years. One reason is his offensive line has been far from spectacular, and the other is his receiving corp is sub par.
Last year, Rivers was sacked 49 times, and was pressured on practically every other drop back. San Diego will have three new starters on the offensive line in 2013 (King Dunlat: LT, Chad Rinehart: LG, D.J. Fluker: RT), and they will have to do a better job at protecting Rivers.
Heading into the season, the Chargers had pretty good depth at the wide receiver position. No one receiver was particularly a star, but they had a few nice pieces. And then injuries happened. Starting wide out Danario Alexander tore his ACL and will miss the entire season. Malcolm Floyd and Eddie Royal, the next two receivers on the Chargers depth chart, are both currently out with injuries and are both questionable for the start of the regular season. These injuries put a ton of pressure on veteran tight end Antonio Gates and rookie receiver Keenan Allen to put up huge numbers, because they’re pretty much the only healthy receivers left on this team.
Running back Ryan Matthews hasn’t lived up to his high first round pick expectations, and has had a lot of trouble staying healthy. Matthews has missed 10 games over his first three season. For the Chargers offense to be successful in 2013, Matthews is going to have to stay healthy and be a consistent threat in the running game. If the Chargers can’t run the ball, they could be in for a long, long season. Danny Woodhead should be a nice addition to this team though, and should provide some versatility out of the backfield.
San Diego’s defense in 2012 wasn’t awful. The Chargers ranked 6th in the NFL against the run last year and 18th against the pass.
The defensive line made up of Kendall Reyes, Cam Thomas, and Corey Liuget is very solid, especially against the run. Liuget is a very good 3-4 pass rusher as well, and
recorded 7 sacks in 2012. These three d-linemen do most of the dirty work for this defense, and eat up blockers so the linebackers can make plays in the backfield.
Donald Butler, the team’s 3rd leading tackler last season, returns to his inside linebacker spot and will start along side rookie Manti Te’o. Te’o was great in college, but will be tested early in the season. Dwight Freeney will start at one outside linebacker spot and Jarrett Johnson will start at the other. Freeney recorded 5 sacks last season for the Colts, but only recorded 12 total tackles. He’ll need to make more plays this year for San Diego. Johnson recorded 1.5 sacks last year in a limited role, and he’ll need to step up his production too.
Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer were the Chargers two starting CBs last season, but both left in free agency, opening the door for young CBs Derek Cox and Shareece Wright. Cox played well last year for Jacksonville, and was one of the top young corners on the free agency market this season. Wright played sparingly last season, and didn’t have an interception. Eric Weddle, the heart and soul of this defense, will start at the free safety spot and Marcus Gilchrist will start at the strong safety spot. With three young defensive backs starting for the Chargers, opposing teams will definitely try to take their shots down field. If these young DBs don’t play well, it’ll be a long season for San Diego.
2013 Prediction: 4-12
Injuries will be the downfall of the Chargers this year. If the offensive line plays as poorly in 2013 as it did in 2012, Rivers will be in for a long, long season. Half of his receiving corp is already injured, and his starting RB has a history with injuries. The defense is shaky too, especially the secondary. San Diego is putting a lot of faith in its young defensive backs, but they aren’t ready to cover elite wide receivers yet. It’s going to be a long year for Chargers fans.
Wins: @Tennesse, @Jacksonville, @Kansas City, Oakland
Losses: Houston, @Philadelphia, Dallas, @Oakland, Indianapolis, @Washington, Denver, @Miami, Cincinnati, New York (Giants), @Denver, Kansas City
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