Dec 2, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick (center) listen to the play call from quarterback Philip Rivers (17) during the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY SportsThere are many reasons why San Diego finished with a 7-9 record last season. Their at times questionable play calling and inability to close out games were the two main things that attributed to their less than mediocre performance last season. However, their offensive production was also a defining factor that kept them out of the win column more times than not.
The Chargers were next to last in yards per game last season. They also averaged 21.9 points per game, which was good enough for 20th in the NFL. So, the stats make this point easy to see. They couldn’t move the ball, and because of that they couldn’t score.
Let’s look at the statistics from last season and see just how San Diego fared against their opponents. While the Chargers averaged 4.8 yards per play, opponents averaged 5.2. San Diego, who once had a feared passing attack, ranked 24th in passing yards per game. Phillip Rivers threw 15 interceptions while opposing quarterbacks threw only 14. Opposing quarterbacks also threw 28 touchdowns, two more than Rivers threw.
But the lack of offense through the air wasn’t the only problem that hindered the team. The Chargers ranked 27th in rushing with 91.3 yards per game. As a team, San Diego ran for 1,461 yards,
Ryan Matthews, Jackie Battle, Ronnie Brown, Curtis Brinkley, and Le’Ron McClain rushed for 1,395 of those yards. Six individual running backs with other teams rushed for more than this entire group. Matthews was the team’s leading rusher with 707 yards. 24 other running backs and two quarterbacks had more yards on the ground than Matthews. He also had only one touchdown. Battle led the team with three. 22 opposing players had more touchdowns than this whole team.
In order for the Chargers to win more games in the future, they will have to have the offensive success they’ve had in past seasons. To be really effective, they will have to find a way to generate yards on the ground. This will allow for more rushing touchdowns, and will also open up the passing game. Unless they can fix this problem, expect more seasons like the one we saw in 2012.