Bold predictions for the Chargers: Offense thrives with new upgrades
By Matt Pagels
We’re five days away from training camp, so now it’s time for our fifth bold prediction for the San Diego Chargers.
Bold Prediction No. 5: Chargers will finish in the top 10 in points per game (offensively)
I can’t count the amount times where the Chargers had a chance to win a game but failed to score enough points. Whether it’s the offense that stalls or the defense that can’t stop opposing offenses, the Chargers routinely come up short.
The last time the Chargers finished in the top 10 in points per game was in 2010, where they finished behind the New England Patriots with the second-most PPG (27.6). They’ve finished in the bottom half of the league in that category in four of the last five seasons.
The closest the Chargers have come to the top 10 was in 2013 (12th), which was the last time they made the playoffs. Ironically, Ken Whisenhunt was the team’s offensive coordinator, and he’s back with the Bolts for the upcoming season.
So what will push them into the top 10? Well, like I mentioned before, the Whiz is here to save the day. His re-hiring was arguably the most underrated move the Chargers made in the offseason. His playcalling will not only help quarterback Philip Rivers continue to dominate, but it will also give the running game a chance to flourish, which is key to this team’s success. I’m confident that 2015 first-round pick Melvin Gordon will bounce back in Year 2.
The offensive line may look comparable to last season’s lineup, but they gained quality centers in veteran Matt Slauson and 2016 third-rounder Max Tuerk (if Tuerk is healthy, Slauson could move to guard if Orlando Franklin or D.J. Fluker struggle). The abysmal play from centers Chris Watt and Trevor Robinson, who were graded as two of the worst centers in the league in 2015, per Pro Football Focus, were killing the team, so this is a huge upgrade. The starting linemen are healthy going into camp, so let’s hope this group can gel right away as well as stay away from the medical staff.
And if that line can give Rivers time, then watch out. He has a plethora of weapons at his disposal. Keenan Allen is back and will look to continue where he left off. The team signed speedster Travis Benjamin, who is a much-needed deep threat. Stevie Johnson, the oldest of the wide receiver corps at 30 years old, can still stun corners with his unorthodox route-running. Tyrell Williams, a breakout candidate, and Dontrelle Inman, a seven-game starter last season, will also look to make an impact.
And then there’s the future Hall of Famer, Antonio Gates. His resume speaks for itself. He may not be as dominant as he once was, but he’s still a threat in the passing game. Even better, the Chargers have possibly found his successor in 2016 second-rounder Hunter Henry. He’s listed as the backup to Gates, but expect a lot of two-tight end sets this season. Considered the best all-around tight end in the draft, Henry’s presence will only make the Chargers more dangerous.
And don’t forget about third-down running back Danny Woodhead. He’s the icing–and the chocolate syrup and sprinkles–on the cake.
Take notice NFL, because this offense could be one of the best offenses in 2016.