August 24, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi
The San Diego Chargers snuck into the playoffs last season and was able to win their wild card matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. The team has gained confidence from that experience and will be looking for a little more this season. The fans have high expectations for the team again. Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco have brought over a new culture onto the team and have the team playing at a high level.Let’s look into the team’s acquisitions this offseason.
The Chargers worked quietly through free agency as they did the season before. They added small pieces at the start with the addition of Donald Brown and Kavell Conner. Both can contribute in a big way on the roster though. Both will be depth at their respective positions but could see some significant time.
The addition of Donald Brown will give the team a 3-headed monster at the running back position. Ryan Mathews will be the leading guy and is one of the best backs on early downs. He will be the main back on the team. Danny Woodhead is the 3rd down back that can give Philip Rivers an option in the passing game. Brown can come in to do either role and will give either guy a breather during games. The backs will have fresher legs at the end of the year.
Kavell Conner will bring more depth for the Chargers at the middle linebacker position. He will bring competition for Matnti Te’o some competition in the middle. He is a big hitter and can be a big help in run defense.
Later in the offseason, the team added Brandon Flowers onto their secondary. Flowers was released by the Kansas City Chiefs since he wasn’t a scheme fit with them any longer. He joined the Chargers and will be the starter along with Shareece Wright in the secondary.
In the draft. the team added more help in the secondary by taking Jason Verrett in the first round. He played in a couple of games in the preseason and showed a lot of potential during his time on the field. He could move into a starter role by the end of the season. He will be a part of nickel package defense, Flowers will kick over to the nickle role and Verrett will move outside.
LB Jerry Attaouchu was taken in the next round and will be used on pass rushing downs. He has a quick first step and will learn a lot from the veterans on the squad.
OG Chris Watt was taken in the 3rd round of the draft and has received work at both the guard and center positions. He could move into a starting role up front by the end of the season. He was battling for the starting role in preseason, but was derailed by an injury.
NT Ryan Carrethers is a big man that will get some playing time with the team’s lack of depth up front. There will be some growing pains with him in the middle, but he will show some ability as well.
The other draft picks couldn’t cut the roster, but the team added a few undrafted free agents that could contribute at some point. DL Tenny Palepoi could be the biggest contributor of the bunch. The depth at the position is thin and the team will be rotating all the guys up front. CB Chris Davis could help on special teams, but he likely will be on the inactive roster for a lot of games. RB Branden Oliver could see a role as a returner and will only see action on offense if there is an injury of some sort.
The San Diego Chargers was one of the most efficient offenses last season under Ken Whisenhunt. The team still has the same style of offense and but could see a more faster paced offense with Frank Reicht running the show.
Philip Rivers had one of his best seasons last year in the offense. He spread the ball around the field and had one of the best completion percentages in the game. That efficiency continued in the preseason and should be expected again this year.
The running game is stronger that last year with the addition of Donald Brown. Ryan Mathews showed that he can carry the load, but the team will look to keep his legs healthy by the end of the year and into the playoffs. Danny Woodhead is one of the best weapons on offense that still flies under the radar.
The wide receiver group is stronger at the top with Malcom Floyd back for the season, but the depth may still be a question mark. The team will have to hope that Seyi Ajirotutu and Dontrelle Inman produce in their roles. Keenan Allen is going to be one of the best receivers in the game and he can only get better. Eddie Royal is a solid player in the slot.
The Chargers defense was the worst part of the team, but it benefited from the strong offense holding onto the ball for long stretches of time. They need to find a way to get off of the field and will be hoping for a better pass defense this year. The team made a few additions in the secondary and hope that they will be able to contribute immediately. Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett should see significant time on defense and will have to produce.
The pass rush also struggled last year. Dwight Freeney will be back from injury and will be asked to get to the quarterback. Melvin Ingram returned from an injury last season and gave the team a spark on defense. He will be ready for the start of the season this time around. Jerry Attaouchu is expected to add some help to the pass rush as well.
The defensive front is the question mark. Corey Liuget is a solid player up front, but he needs to stay healthy. Sean Lissemore showed that he can make plays, but he will be asked to take on a larger role this year. Kendall Reyes needs to step up and make more plays. The team likely will add more depth before the season starts here.
The Chargers will be a better team this year. They didn’t lose anyone from last year and they have a better idea on their identity this season. Last season, they were still looking to establish an identity with the new coaching staff. They will challenge for a playoff spot and could give the Denver Broncos a little competition for the division. The team has a tougher schedule facing the NFC West this year. In the end, I believe the Chargers will be in the playoffs and making a run for the Super Bowl.