San Diego Chargers: Is a rebound season to the playoffs awaiting us?

Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; San Diego Chargers general manager Tom Telesco speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; San Diego Chargers general manager Tom Telesco speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

After a long and tumultuous season both the San Diego Chargers and their fanbase will be looking for one heck of a bounce-back season in 2016-2017. While mulling over the moves the Chargers  have already made in free agency as well as the upcoming moves that will be made in the draft I’ve come to realize that our Bolts aren’t as far out of playoff contention as it may seem coming off of a dismal 4-12 season and here’s why.

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First off, the Chargers weren’t a 4-12 team last season or at least they didn’t play like one for the majority of the year. What I mean by this is that they were highly competitive in most of their games last year only losing by double-digits three times, one of which includes a 17-3 loss to Denver where a vicious defensive assault was laid upon Brock Osweiler in the first half until he was benched, resulting in the Sheriff replacing him, righting the ship, and ultimately winning the game. Now I know this comes as no excuse for either the players or the fans because the bottom line is losing is losing no matter how it happens. Just ask any Seahawks fan or player if they were happy losing Super Bowl XLIX to the Patriots because they were “competitive” and “should have won”.

While losing close games is most definitely heartbreaking there does seem to be a silver lining in all of this. Don’t get me wrong here no matter how you put it McCoy and Co. choked away at least two and as many as four games last season. However when going back and looking at how each game ended if there are positives to take out of this it’s that six of our twelve losses came by single digits and five of those six games were absolutely winnable. Now if my math serves me correctly that’s the difference between a four win team and a nine win team which, oddly enough, has been the Chargers win total the prior two seasons. Could it be that the Bolts simply didn’t get the ball to bounce their way enough last season? Possibly, but there were a multitude of other reasons as to why they lost those games so blaming a bad season on luck isn’t a viable excuse. I’m just saying that maybe the Chargers journey back to contention isn’t as far off as we think.

Second on my list of reasons as to why I believe the Chargers can make the Playoffs next season is the moves we’ve made in free agency so far. Personally, I love what Telesco has done and this has to go down as his best offseason as a GM yet. Both Travis Benjamin and Casey Hayward were bargains at market value each signing for 1-2 million dollars less than what they could have conceivably received from other teams. As if that wasn’t enough reason to like the signings, they will both offer significant upgrades over the incumbent starters (looking at you Flowers).

When you pair those signings with those of both Brandon Mebane and Dwight Lowery it’s starting to look like the Chargers are addressing all the holes they absolutely needed to fill if they want to make a trip to the postseason next year. I know some hated on TT for not signing Tashaun Gipson but he was coming off of a significant knee injury the year prior and didn’t look like his normal self last year placing in the bottom twenty percent of safeties according to Pro Football Focus. Thirty-five million dollars is a lot to invest in for a player coming off what was easily his worst season as a pro. Let’s also not forget that the Chargers have around 19 million dollars in cap space left so they might not be done reeling in talent for next season yet.

Having said all of this the offseason event that will mostly likely decide San Diego’s fate next season is this April’s draft. I for one am fully on board with selecting Jalen Ramsey with the number three overall selection. He has steadily risen up draft boards over the past few months and is quietly throwing his name into the conversation with Laremy Tunsil as the best talent in this year’s class. Much like Tunsil is a once in five to ten year talent at the tackle position Ramsey is the same at cornerback or safety. Some experts have come out and declared that he might be the best secondary prospect since Patrick Peterson which certainly garners excitement from both fans and teams picking in the top five alike. While it has been known that first round secondary prospects can become boom (Patrick Peterson, Jason Verrett) or bust (Dee Milliner, former Charger Antoine Cason, Rodney Anderson) picks the potential is simply too high for Ramsey and there might not be a better match than a San Diego defense that sorely lacks playmakers.

Even though a defensive lineman such as Joey Bosa or DeForest Buckner is tempting to take here that’s a position that can be addressed in the second round unlike the secondary where the drop off between Ramsey and a second-round talent is significantly higher in my opinion. Options such as Chris Jones out of Mississippi State, Adolphus Washington out of Ohio State, and if we are lucky at this point Robert Nkemdiche out of Ole Miss would all be welcomed additions to our defense. After adding a center in the third round such as Max Turek out of USC for example, I think that San Diego will have set itself up nicely to make a serious run at the playoffs next year and who knows, maybe Phillip Rivers will be lifting the Lombardi Trophy for the first time in Houston next February. After all if you can squeeze into the postseason anything can happen, just ask Trent Dilfer.

I believe that Tom Telesco and his crew have gotten off to a good start this offseason in attempting to put a winning team out on the field. Having said this I still think that there is more work to be done if they want to be taken seriously around the league. What are you opinions about San Diego’s potential for next year? Has Telesco done enough to put a winning product back on the field or are there still more moves you would like to see made before the start of next season? Let me know and leave a comment in the comment section below.