The San Diego Chargers are not your average 4-12 team.
The Bolts have one of the top quarterbacks in Philip Rivers. They have quality talent on both sides of the ball. But injuries and subpar playcalling played major roles in last year’s abysmal season.
The Chargers had a successful offseason. Actually, that’s an understatement. It’s arguably been general manager Tom Telesco’s best offseason since taking over in 2013. He added quality talent without overpaying in free agency, and he potentially landed six starters from the 2016 draft.
So why are some analysts still down on the Chargers? Well, aside from having an uphill battle against what is considered one of the toughest divisions in the AFC West, they believe the loss of safety Eric Weddle will really hurt them.
The three-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro was arguably the Chargers’ best defensive player over the last few years. 2015 was a different story, though. After going into the season on bad terms with the team, Weddle looked like a shell of himself. He missed tackles, showed minimal effort at times and didn’t record an interception for the first time in his nine-year career.
Weddle is an all-around great safety. According to Pro Football Focus, he was ranked as one of the top five safeties in the NFL for five of the past six seasons. As good as he was in both stopping the run and defending the pass, his play didn’t transend the team into higher levels. The Chargers finished in the bottom half of the league in rushing defense over the last two years. Also, they were 27th and 24th in takeaways in 2014 and 2015, respectively. In Weddle’s defense, he didn’t have a dominant front seven to help him out.
But Weddle is a Raven now. The Chargers were right not to pay him top dollar, especially since he’s on the wrong side of 30. While it’s tough to see him move on, his loss shouldn’t really affect the Chargers.
Yeah, the safety position is the only area on defense that essentially doesn’t have a star. It’s a position with one aging veteran (Dwight Lowery), one inconsistent player (Jahleel Addae) and a bunch of unproven guys (Dexter McCoil, Adrian McDonald and Adrian Phillips). But the upgraded front seven, along with Pro Bowler Jason Verrett leading a solid cornerback group, should overshadow the loss of Weddle.
In 2015, we’ve seen the Carolina Panthers’ defense thrive with no-name safeties. That was because of the strong play from their defensive line and cornerback Josh Norman.
That said, Weddle’s departure won’t kill the Chargers, and it certainly shouldn’t be the reason why some believe they will fail this season.