Thursday, August 29, 2013

NFL 2013 Preview - San Diego Chargers

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS                                                 

Head Coach: Mike McCoy

2012 Record: 7-9-0 (2nd in AFC West)

New Players: LB Dwight Freeney; RB Danny Woodhead; CB Derek Cox; OL Max Starks; OL Chad Rinehart.

Gone Elsewhere: CB Quentin Jammer; CB Antoine Cason; LB Takeo Spikes; LB Antwan Barnes; OL Jared Gaither; K Nate Kaeding; DL Antonio Garay; LB Shaun Phillips; DL Aubrayo Franklin; OL Louis Vasquez.

Offense: The Chargers have to be hoping that quarterback Philip Rivers snaps out of his two-year slump after he threw for his lowest yardage total in five seasons in 2012. Rivers had just 3,606 passing yards with 26 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Protecting Rivers better is a priority for the Chargers this season after allowing 49 sacks last year. The line is undergoing an overhaul as rookie D.J. Fluker (Alabama) was drafted in the first round to play right tackle.
QB Philip Rivers
The left tackle is slated to be King Dunlap. The center is Nick Hardwick and the guards are Chad Rinehart and Jeromey Clary.
The running game has to get better after leading rusher Ryan Mathews rushed for 707 yards (3.8 ypc average) and scored just one touchdown while missing all or parts of five games last season. Aging veteran Ronnie Brown (220 rush yards and 49 receptions for 371 yards) provides backup along with newcomer Danny Woodhead, who ran for 301 yards and scored four touchdowns while also making 40 catches for 446 yards and three more scores with New England last year.
The wide receivers are looking to bounce back from injuries last year as Malcolm Floyd, who is recovering from a knee sprain, caught 56 passes for 814 yards and five touchdowns in 2012. Tight End Antonio Gates is a favorite target of Rivers and he caught 49 passes for 538 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Other wideouts include Vincent Brown, who showed real promise in 2011 before suffering a season ending injury in the 2012 pre-season. Rookie Keenan Allen (California) is another option along with Robert Meacham, who was a complete bust in 2012, catching just 14 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Eddie Royal is also available and also returns kicks as does Richard Goodman.

Defense: The Chargers defense ranked ninth overall last season, giving up 326 yards per game, including 96 on the ground (6th overall) and 230 passing yards, which was 18th in the NFL. The 'Bolts recorded 38 QB sacks while getting 28 turnovers, including 14 interceptions.
Up front in San Diego's 3-4 set is nose tackle Cam Thomas while Corey Liuget (seven QB sacks) and Kendali Reyes (5 1/2 sacks) play the ends. Jarius Wynn and Damik Scafe provide depth.
Linebacker Dwight Freeney
The linebackers have rookie Manti Te'o (Notre Dame) on the inside along with Donald Butler, who registered three sacks. The outside linebackers are Jarret Johnson and Dwight Freeney, who had five sacks with Indianapolis last season.
The secondary is completely revamped at the corner spots with Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason leaving for free agency and being replaced by Shareece Wright and Derek Cox. The safties are Marcus Gilchrist and Eric Weddle, who had three interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown.

OUTLOOK:  New Head Coach Mike McCoy takes over for the fired Norv Turner, who in six seasons with the Chargers led the team to the playoffs three times, but not since 2009 have they made the post-season.
The offense, once upon a time the best in the NFL (with QB Philip Rivers leading the way) dropped off drastically last season to 31st in the league, averaging just 297 yards per game. The running game (27th) gained only 91 yards a game while the passing game averaged 206 yards to rank 24th in the NFL. The Chargers averaged 21.8 points per game and that must improve if the Chargers want to be taken seriously in the AFC West.
Rivers can't do it by himself, so it's vital that fourth year running back Ryan Mathews lives up to promise this season after spending parts of his first three years in the league in the trainer's room.
The wideouts have been hampered by injuries once again as Malcolm Floyd was hurt in training camp and Danario Alexander, who put up big numbers last year for San Diego, is out for the year with a knee injury. Meanwhile, on the bright side, tight end Antonio Gates appears to be one hundred percent healthy for the first time in six years.
There are numerous questions surrounding the new faces on offense and defense as well as the new coaching staff and system being implemented. All that said, the Chargers appear to be in rebuilding mode as Rivers looks to get his team back to the post-season for the first time in four years.
Perhaps better days are ahead as they look to get back to the basics and revamp the team to challenge once again in the AFC West. But don't count on it this season as the Chargers appear to be headed for yet another 7-9 finish in the 2013 season.


Sept. 9- vs. Houston
Sept. 15- at Philadelphia
Sept. 22- at Tennessee
Sept. 29- vs. Dallas
Oct. 6- at Oakland
Oct. 14- vs. Indianapolis
Oct. 20- at Jacksonville
Oct. 27- BYE WEEK
Nov. 3- at Washington
Nov. 10- vs. Denver
Nov. 17- at Miami
Nov. 24- at Kansas City
Dec. 1- vs. Cincinnati
Dec. 8- vs. NY Giants
Dec. 12- at Denver
Dec. 22- vs. Oakland
Dec. 29- vs. Kansas City

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