There’s going to be much to look forward to when the season begins. The sources and the level of energy coming from merely OTAs alone is something different in comparison to years past. Experts are still pegging the Chargers to finish with a 6-10 record, but I believe they fail to see how many pieces the Chargers brass has added to the entire puzzle. There are very few holes on defense, possibly the only piece that comes to mind is one of the cornerback spots. Nose tackle, strong safety can be manageable with the players we already have. On Offense, I believe strongly that Philip Rivers will return to MVP form. It ultimately is up to him to play like the star he once was. Aside from Rivers, the offensive line has to gel and work as one solid, cohesive unit in order for the offense to explode. Best thing of all we have solid bookends at several positions, but who has the edge as the toughest duo on the team? Let’s take a quick look.
Corey Liuget / Kendall Reyes – Liuget is only getting stronger, faster and meaner. He’s been training all off-season splitting time between Miami and San Diego, he wants to build off last season and make this a break out year. Wait, last year wasn’t a break out year? If last season, a building year off his rookie campaign is any indication of Liuget’s potential, he can be very lethal for years to come. Liuget is on his way to becoming a household name and his arrival couldn’t have come at any better time. Kendall Reyes finished his rookie season with 5.5 sacks, finally a rookie that came in immediately with something to prove. I was secretly hoping they’d let Vaughn Martin slip through free agency so that Reyes would unanimously become the starter. He was a leader at Connecticut, a good character athlete, together with Liuget can be hazardous to opposing quarterbacks not named Philip Rivers. Now imagine, Liuget, Reyes AND Dwight Freeney crashing the line! Somebody better call the paramedics!
Max Starks / DJ Fluker – Stark played nine seasons in Pittsburgh and held down the left tackle spot for five and half seasons with much success. It’s clear based on Tom Telesco’s plan to only sign Stark to a one-year deal that Stark is no more than a loaner until next year’s draft when left tackles will be far more abundant. Regardless, the heralding remark from Stark is that it’s his primary objective to protect Rivers’ blind side. Something I haven’t heard from a Chargers left tackle in years! He actually wants to play football and he actually wants to do his job! Fluker was the best ‘right’ tackle in the draft but he’s already showing rookie signs of a slow start. He gave himself a C+, which is warranting him to play harder. The transition to the NFL can be a rigorous one, but in due time Fluker will maintain his place on the offensive line. The Chargers can easily lean on King Dunlop or recall the services of Jeromey Clary…or Dunlop should be fine! Nevertheless, these names are far more appealing than oft-broken Jared “Lazy Bones” Gaither and an undrafted Mike Harris, no offense to Harris!
Danario Alexander / Malcom Floyd or Vincent Brown – This is the deepest class of wide receivers the Chargers have had in a long time. The pieces are beginning to fit, if the offensive line is fixed, then Rivers is upright and not scrambling for his life, if that’s the case he’ll have time to throw to his talented receivers. Alexander, Floyd and Brown could each pull in 700+ yards this season. It’s possible any of these strong receivers can be double covered which leaves room for Antonio Gates and the running backs to make huge plays. Defenses can’t double cover everyone! Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal will be covering the slot which will drive defenders insane as to whom to cover. In the end, I think it’ll be Alexander and Brown carving through the stats books and bringing an aerial attack the Chargers have been missing for far too long.
Aside from Stark and Fluker the other pairs have been here all along, except the oncoming season will be the first time both players playing side by side will possibly play through all 16 games together. We’ll have quite a visual feast of sacks, blocks and yardage gained when September rolls around.