San Diego Chargers
Last Season’s Rankings: #5 Overall Offense (393.3 total yards per game) #4 Passing Offense (270.5 passing yards per game) #13 Rushing Offense (122.8 rushing yards per game)
Last season the Bolts experienced a change in head coaching from Norv Turner an company to Mike McCoy. Although the Bolts got into the playoffs by the very tips of their noses, they nevertheless got into the playoffs. The road to get there was most definitely bumpy for Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ offense. For example, after a hard fall on his head, WR Malcolm Floyd was out for the season with his career perhaps in jeopardy. The Chargers offense last season did in fact look bleak, however the efforts of a rookie WR Keenan Allen saved the Chargers from perhaps a horrible offensive season. Allen’s 1,046 yards lead all rookies and, along with his eight touchdowns, gave him support for offensive rookie of the year honors. As for the rushing game, the three man wrecking crew of WR-RB hybrid Danny Woodhead, wildcat Ronnie Brown and speedster Ryan Matthews helped the Bolts have yet another top-five offense. I believe that the X-factor for the Chargers was ex-patriots RB Danny Woodhead. While he may not be a great running back, Woodhead combines good speed with great hands, especially out of the backfield (429 yards rushing along with 605 yards receiving and eight touchdowns in 2013). This season I expect the Chargers to utilize Woodhead even more than last season, having him go out for check-downs as well as short burst plays to the left or the right. Even though Ronnie Brown is no longer in the Chargers depth chart (or roster), the Chargers were able to add another Brown in former Indianapolis running back Donald Brown. With such a diverse combination of running backs in the backfield for San Diego, the Chargers should have no problem gaining yards next season. The only problem that I see the Chargers having is either in not being able to utilize the correct players in certain situations. If Mike McCoy and the Chargers’ coaching staff can combine all of the Chargers’ rushing talent, I expect them to be unstoppable next season.
As for the other parts of the offense, Philip Rivers was able to bounce back from a not so great season last season in order to lead the Chargers to the playoffs. In 2012, Rivers threw 13 interceptions, 225.75 yards per game and fumbled the ball an unheard-of 15 times. Last season Rivers improved ten fold, throwing for 4,478 yards, with a 69.5 completion percentage (highest of his career) and 32 touchdowns (second highest of his career). This upcoming season should see even bigger things for the Chargers and Rivers. All of their receivers are coming back nice and healthy and ready to start the season. WRs Vincent Brown (472 yards and 41 receptions), Floyd (814 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2012), Allen (2,570 yards and 17 touchdowns during his career at the University of California), and TE Antonio Gates (77 receptions and 872 yards receiving) are among the familiar faces that will be returning this season. In terms of the unfamiliar faces, rookies Tevin Reece, Chris Watt and Marion Grice will be joining the Chargers in 2014. While their draft selections and off-season additions weren’t necessarily all offensive-minded, the Chargers did obtain some okay talent to add to their already existing receivers, running backs and offensive line. One addition that comes to mind is WR Tevin Reece out of Baylor. During his career at Baylor, Reece was able to amass career 187 receptions, 3,102 yards and 24 TDs. Although Reece isn’t a first week starter right off the bat, he still has the ability to make an impact if he shows promise during OTAs and off-season training. As well, the Chargers added 3rd round the talents of OG Chris Watt out of the University of Notre Dame. With Watt’s pass blocking abilities, Jeromey Clary has a solid replacement in the unfortunate case that he gets injured during the season.
In all honesty, this season rests on Philip Rivers shoulders (no pressure, Phil). As you saw in 2012 and in 2013, if Rivers is having a bad year, the Bolts do poorly. If Rivers is having a good year, the Bolts do well. I think this off-season should give Rivers time to work more with his receivers and strengthen the Rivers-Allen connection to league-leading proportions. Not to mention, Rivers has other receivers in touchdown machine Eddie Royal (eight touchdowns) and potential sleeper TE Ladarius Green (376 yards).
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