2013 Record: 9-7
Years of underachieving has finally caught up with the Chargers and former GM A.J. Smith was the fall-guy. New GM Tom Telesco and Coach Mike McCoy look to revitalize a franchise that has done so little with so much talent for so long. Quarterback Philip Rivers has taken a few steps backward the last two years and in the process has taken himself out of the elite quarterback discussion. While that title doesn’t really matter, the Chargers kind of need it given their offensive tools. The Mike Tolbert-Ryan Mathews duo broke up after 2011 when Tolbert signed with Carolina, so Mathews was on his own with scrap heap pickup Jackie Battle and aging Ronnie Brown behind him. Mathews regressed with just 707 rushing yards. Also, no Vincent Jackson on offense means Malcom Floyd has been miscast as a #1 receiver. Behind him are Eddie Royal, Danario Alexander, and Robert Meachem. Antonio Gates had his worst season since his 2003 rookie season, and at age 32, age is becoming a factor. The Chargers’ offense was below average in 2012 thanks to a struggling Mathews and dismal season performance from Rivers. The one thing that is certain is that the Chargers won’t win without a culture change from the front office down, and they have that in Telesco and McCoy. How long it will take them to win is a whole ‘nother issue.
Their only significant offseason pickups came on the defensive side of the ball, with the biggest being Jacksonville linebacker Derek Cox. Defensive end Dwight Freeney comes from Indianapolis, but he’s not the pass rusher he once was. But their leading sacker in linebacker Shaun Phillips is gone. While San Diego’s defense is better than their offense, it struggles against the pass. That’s why the signing of Cox makes great sense. Still, free safety Eric Weddle needs more help than starting strong safety Brandon Taylor, a third-round pick in 2012 who was basically redshirted in his first NFL season (finished with a whopping six tackles). Marcus Gilchrist, who starts at cornerback across from Cox, is inexperienced and failed to record an interception last year. The secondary remains shaky. But up front the Chargers have Corey Liuget, linebacker Melvin Ingram, and linebacker Manti Te’o. While Te’o’s NFL potential remains a question mark, he still represents an upgrade. This unit was sixth in the league in rushing defense and should be in that range again this year. But a shaky secondary makes this unit not much better than average. Watch the Chargers reload on talent in 2013! Gold Coast Tickets has the best selection to get you into Qualcomm.