NFL Season Preview: San Diego Chargers and Phillip Rivers Look To Get Back To Winning
For years, QB Philip Rivers and head coach Norv Turner have been synonymous with the other; virtually sewn at the hip with one another. After seven seasons, that is no longer the case. Turner was fired after a disappointing 2012 season, which was the nadir of several seasons where the Chargers – who often featured some of the deepest talent in the NFL – failed to win the Super Bowl, or even make the playoffs in the past two seasons.
Former Denver Broncos’ offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was brought in to help usher in the second half of Philip Rivers’ career. Rivers has been near the top of the NFL in turnovers over the past two seasons, which has had a great deal to do with the Chargers’ woes overall. The team acquired RB Danny Woodhead from the New England Patriots in order to provide an added dimension that neither oft-injured RB Ryan Mathews nor declining RB Ronnie Brown can offer: crucial yardage gains from stick to stick when the deep ball is not available to Rivers.
There are questions about Rivers’ arm strength and whether he has been injured in the past couple of years, but Rivers denies it. With a healthy Antonio Gates at TE, WR Danario Alexander, WR Vincent Brown returning from a season-long injury in 2012, and Malcom Floyd, there is no reason for the Chargers’ passing offense to not return to form in 2013. The Chargers did not do anything worthwhile to shore up their protection issues at LT, as they exchanged one oft-injured underachiever in LT Jared Gaither for another in former Eagles tackle King Dunlap. The offensive line will bear watching this season.
Defensively, Corey Liuget anchors the 3-4 alignment that the Chargers employ. Longtime NT Antonio Garay has moved on, and the Chargers now have four rookie defensive tackles on the roster with Cam Thomas entering training camp. Melvin Ingram was a huge loss for the team at the LB position during a practice session in OTAs, while Dwight Freeney was brought in to provide the Chargers with a potential shift away from the 3-4 and utilize a 4-3 set at times. Donald Butler continues to come into his own for the Bolts. After acquiring LB DJ Smith from the Packers and letting longtime CB Quentin Jammer flee in free agency, the Chargers have numerous issues throughout the secondary outside of FS Eric Weddle. Someone will have to stand out from the glut of defensive backs that the Chargers have acquired in the past 12 months, because Weddle cannot do it alone.
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