The 2014 season is officially in the books. There were plenty of up’s and down’s this season, but all in all, it wasn’t enough to get the Chargers into the Playoff picture. Surprisingly, I’m actually at peace with the Bolts not making it into the playoffs this year. Almost 24 hours ago, I couldn’t say that, but the more I think about it, the more it sits with me. Ian Eagle said the perfect thing at the end of the game on Sunday, how the San Diego Chargers walked a tight rope for far too long.
I have plenty of faith that Coach Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco are already thinking about next season (or at least they better be), because we’ve got plenty of work to do. So here are some key things that I feel need to get done in order to take the next level and not only make the playoffs, but start getting to some championship games.
Make A Decision With Ryan MathewsDepending on who you ask, some people think that this is an easy decision. Others don’t think so. Yes, I believe he is a very talented running back, but I also can’t remember a season in which he hasn’t missed a game. It only pays off when players are actually playing a considerable amount of games. Even though the Chargers will have about $20 to $30 million in salary cap space, he doesn’t deserve more than a 1-year deal at most, for low money. I’m a believer in second chances, but if the Chargers were to give him one, he better be proving that he can stay healthy.
Sign Brandon Flowers To Long-Term DealBrandon Flowers was a great acquisition. We certainly need a veteran presence at the cornerback position, especially with Jason Verrett back there next season. Flowers proved that he could be lock-down and be extremely effective in games. He played well all season long, and should continue wearing a Charger uniform. Otherwise, we’ll have to address that same position in this upcoming draft, which leads me to my next point…
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Continue To Draft EffectivelyWe need a lot of help in this draft at all kinds of positions. Most notably is offensive line. I have a believe that this team from now on should be drafting an offensive lineman every year. Obviously the injuries have piled up this season (I won’t even dive into the center position). The old , tough offensive line of Nick Hardwick and company is long gone, and it seems like it’s been an on-going need. So we need to start drafting lineman every year, just out of habit. Not to mention that it seems like this team can never have enough linemen. Other positions that need help are Safety, Defensive Line, Running Back, Wide Receiver, and lastly, a legitimate threat to have as a returner.
Find A Legitimate Replacement For Philip RiversHear me out…There is no question in my mind that Rivers is still effective, and most definitely will continue to be so in the coming years. But the reason why I mentioned this is because let’s face it, he is 34 years old, and will be retiring within 4 to 5 years from now. So in order not to completely start over from scratch when he does, we need to draft somebody who can understand (and is mature enough) and play the role of QB-in-waiting. Aaron Rodgers did this years before he got his shot with Green Bay.
Make A Big Splash In Free AgencyAll of those draft needs can certainly be applied in free agency, with the exception of Running Back and Quarterback, and we have an estimated $20 to $30 million in cap space. Peyton Manning already has said that he isn’t going anywhere in the coming years. Instead of playing for Wild Card Spots, we should be playing for the division and start stacking up to Denver. Sure, they are a pretty good team, but with McCoy and Co., this is a team that’s already built to beat Denver. All we need are a few key pieces. Some notable free agents that will be out there on the market are the likes of Randall Cobb, Jeremy Maclin, and Michael Crabtree, all Wide Receivers.
Tune Up The Coaching StaffThere’s no question that we have a top-notch coaching staff already, with Mike McCoy at the top, but it’s certainly not invincible. John Pagano is a great, fiery defensive coach, but I could tell that he’s been auditioning for head coaching jobs all season long. With a great coach like himself, it’s only a matter of time before he gets hired somewhere. On the other side of the ball is Frank Reich. Sure, I think he’s a good coach, but is he a great offensive coordinator? I don’t think so. His play calling this past Sunday reminded me of our good friend Norv Turner, which isn’t at all enticing. Granted, Rivers has had complete control all season long in calling out the plays, but you could tell he was less than pleased at times with some of the calls he got from the sidelines. And also, strength and conditioning should be looked at after all of the injuries that happened this season.
Have An Exit Plan For Antonio GatesGates is a Hall of Famer, with no question, as he has changed the position completely for the rest of the league. But he’s getting old. Ladarious Green wasn’t used much this season, which could have been the difference, but like I said earlier, I’m at peace with this past season, hence I’m moving on. Green needs to be way more involved next season because Gates has already hinted at retiring after his contract is up next season. He also said that he isn’t looking to move on from the Bolts, and would like to finish his career in San Diego. But we should definitely start to developing more of the talent that Green brings and start putting more of the load onto him for a smooth transition for the future at that position for the Chargers.
Figuring Out The Future In San DiegoFor those that have read most of my pieces, I haven’t stopped talking about this little stadium issue we have here in San Diego. As a resident of America’s Finest City, I don’t mind paying for a new structure for both the team AND the city. But on the other hand, I do acknowledge that not everybody will be onboard with me. I posted a piece early last week about what a potential plan for both a convention center expansion and a stadium in the same project. But 2015 will be our last shot at keeping the Chargers in San Diego. As a Charger fan, I’m just tired of the possibility of moving to L.A. looming over our heads. But ultimately, this upcoming offseason will be the most important one yet, both on the field and off the field.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!