Saturday, September 3, 2011

NFL 32 in 32: San Diego Chargers

The Chargers last year had the #1 total defense in the NFL, and a very potent offense to boot, yet they finished 9-7 and missed the postseason. Who ever knew that special teams were so special? But, the Chargers have rebounded with new coaches, and some new players. Is this finally their year to break through?

What's New: There are a decent amount of new players on this roster. Takeo Spikes comes over from San Francisco to become one of the leaders on this defense, which is something he wasn't in San Francisco last season. The Chargers also went out and got the oft-injured Bob Sanders from Indianapolis, to help out the safety position. If he is healthy, he can be one of the better safeties in the NFL today. Other new additions are LB Travis LaBoy, along with the rookie DT Corey Liuget from Illinois to help sure up their defensive line. They also re-signed a bunch of their own players, keeping a very good nucleus in tact.

Biggest Strength: They have Philip Rivers, who is a possible MVP candidate this season if he continues to play the way he has in the past couple of seasons. He is under the radar because of the fact that he can't win the big playoff games and get the Chargers over the hump, but that doesn't disguise the fact that he is one of the league's premier arms. He also has a good set of weapons to work with, especially with Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, and Antonio Gates in tow. Their offensive line is also a very good and cohesive unit, and one that didn't allow a ton of sacks a season ago. On defense, they have a good defensive line that can generate pressure, with underrated starters at linebacker and in the secondary.

Biggest Weakness: Their running game is a bit of a mess, because they have 3 backs, and not a clue as to who is the #1, 2, or 3. Ryan Mathews, Jacob Hester, and Mike Tolbert are all good backs, but there are plenty of questions as to how to use them. If they find an effective way to use them, they will have a very tough offense to stop. On defense, there are some depth issues at linebacker and in the secondary, but there are few major issues on that side of the ball.

Outlook: Is this team truly ready to take the next step? Many believe so, because they have a potent offense, and an underrated defense, plus an easy schedule in an easy division. They should be able to challenge in the AFC, but with the Chargers, you honestly never know what could happen.

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