Coming into the 2010 season, the San Diego Chargers had held the title of the AFC West champs 5 of the previous 6 years. The Chargers are infamous for having a slow start to the season but when the Chargers traveled to Kansas City for their opening game of the 2010 season, most thought that the Bolts would be able to kick off the season with a notch in the “W” Column. However, this was not the same Kansas City team that we had faced in previous years, and the Chargers got a rude awakening as they were upset 14-21.
Looking at the game stats you see that Rivers threw for 298 yards, and Chief QB Matt Cassel threw for just 68 yards. With San Diego’s total offensive yards totaling 407 and the Chiefs’ adding up to a mere 203. So how did the Chiefs take home the “W”? Our seasons’ special teams issues were very evident during this match-up as the Chiefs averaged 32 yards per punt return. Yes, you heard right! 32 yards per punt return totaling 160 yards, including one returned by Dexter McCluster for a touchdown at the end of the first half. The Chargers outplayed the Chiefs in 2 of the 3 phases including offense and defense, but this goes to show how Special Teams can be the make or break factor in winning ball games.
At the end of 2011, Charger fans nationwide let out a great sigh of relief as Special Teams coach Steve Crosby was released and new Special Teams coach Rich Bisaccia was hired in. Bisaccia has a very productive track record and accompanied his previous team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl. He made his presence well known in the 2011 NFL draft by pursuing many new Special Team players and made a forward statement that he was fired up about rebuilding our Special Teams back up to a level of greatness.
So assuming that the Chargers wont be having serious issues in Special Teams, let’s take a look at what kind of weapons we will be facing against the Kansas City Chiefs.
1. Jamal Charles
2010 stats: 1467 yards rushing, with an average of 6.4 yards per carry.
Charles has blazing speed and when he gets into the open field is nearly impossible to catch. He is a great pass catcher and almost had 500 yards receiving this past season.
2. TRIO: Matt Cassel/ Jonathon Baldwin / Dwayne Bowe
Matt Cassel is currently drooling over the weapons in which he will be targeting this coming season. Dwayne Bowe is known to be one of the best receivers today in the National Football League and with the new addition of 6’5″ rookie skyscraper receiver Jonathon Baldwin, the Chiefs will be loaded in the passing game. Luckily for the Chargers, we possess the leagues best passing defense!
3. DUO: Dexter McCluster / Javier Arenas
With 2 speedster return men, the Bolts will need to make sure all gaps and holes are filled on Special Teams in order to not see a repeat of week 1 of the 2010 season.
4. DUO: Justin Houston / Allen Bailey
2 beast defensive end weapons which will put the ultimate test to the Chargers O-line and blocking. Yes, they are both rookies and should develop over time but these guys could very well jump in and make a great impact right from the get go.
5. Eric Berry
One of the best young defenders in the league right now. Eric Berry is a ball hawk who amassed 4 picks in his first season in the NFL, one of which was returned for a touchdown. He was very active on every play and totaled 92 tackles on the season with 2 sacks. Luckily for the Chargers, we have one of the most accurate and smart QB’s in the league who can pick apart any defense.
With the Kansas City Chiefs looking like an all around threat through all 3 phases, the 2011 season will be a true test for the Chargers as they attempt to return to the top of the AFC west once again!