NFL 2012 Season Preview: The AFC West – San Diego Chargers

Philip Rivers has welcomed Peyton Manning to the AFC West. Well, what was he supposed to do? Say, “I have my hands full trying to win, here—please go away?”

2011 wrap-up:

  1. Everyone pays at least verbal tribute to the concept that stability is a good thing in a franchise. But, seriously, San Diego. For the last three years, the majority of fans have been begging for regime change. Norv Turner and Jim Caldwell can form a support group for really decent human beings who should not be head coaches.
  2. Let’s review: In 2007, Marty Schottenheimer coached the Chargers to a 14-2 record. The last two years combined have resulted in 17 victories. Once again, fans think this is (surely) Turner and GM A.J. Smith’s last chance. Surely.
  3. It’s not as if this team didn’t have a franchise quarterback. Philip Rivers is everything you could possibly ask for in this area. Miami, Seattle and Jacksonville would kill for Rivers’ hands under their center’s backside. Too bad that Rivers is an honorable guy who went to bat to keep Turner. Why GM Smith is still around is a complete mystery, since he has not only driven Schottenheimer out of town and tanked his last few draft classes—he has the benefit of being universally disliked.
  4. Three O-linemen on IR certainly didn’t help.
  5. The Chargers were another team incapable of generating a pass rush. While one realizes that this is not an easy achievement—it has to be a priority.
  6. There is some room for optimism at linebacker: Shaun Phillips is a stud when healthy, Takeo Spikes continued his illustrious career and Antwan Barnes made 11 sacks.
  7. Safety Eric Weddle lived up to his contract and RCB Antoine Cason can play, while DB Marcus Gilchrist was a  bright spot in the draft class.
  8. Special Teams. Yes, they stink. Still. PK Nate Kaeding went down in Week 1 and the rest of the season is forgettable at best.

2012 offseason:

  1. Star WR Vincent Jackson left, probably because sophomore WR Vincent Brown is turning out to be a preseason star. Eddie Royal can be a waterbug-type scooter—when he’s healthy, which isn’t often enough. Malcolm Floyd is the anchor for now, but Norv Turner has a new toy in former Saint Robert Meachem.
  2. First-round draft pick from 2010, RB Ryan Mathews, broke his collarbone on the first preseason carry and power rusher Mike Tolbert is a Panther. Great.
  3. That leaves journeyman Ronnie Brown, Curtis “this is your chance, dud” Brinkley and FB Le’Ron McClain to tote the rock for at least six weeks.
  4. LT Jared Gaither has a back problem. Not good—especially if you happen to be one of Philip Rivers six children.
  5. In the “unqualified good news” column, Antonio Gates is healthy for the first time in three years.
  6. In the “you want to ring his neck” column is the four-game drug suspension of DT Garrett Brown.
  7. The Chargers added OLB Jarret Johnson from Baltimore. (Bet the Ravens wish they had that one back.) They also drafted DE/OLB Melvin Ingram, who is exciting folks thus far. The rest of the league may be looking to pick up some of San Diego’s waived linebackers this month.
  8. Charlie Whitehurst is back with Norv Turner as the No. 2 quarterback. It’s good to have friends.

Storylines:

  1. How soon can Ryan Matthews return? Or will Curtis Brinkley be the next Arian Foster?
  2. How quickly can Rivers develop chemistry with his revised WRing corps?
  3. Can Antonio Gates’ new slimmed-down form keep him healthy?
  4. Can the pass rush on paper become a pass rush in reality?
  5. Will Philip Rivers bounce back from a sub par year? Well—will he have to carry the entire team on his shoulders? If the answer to the second is “no,” then the answer to the first is “yes!”
More AFC West Preseason Previews:
More AFC Preseason Previews:
1 Comment Posted in Football Picks, NFL, NFL Football, NFL Pro Football, NFL-Football Analysis, NFL-Football-Commentary, Pro Football
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One Comment

  1. Bonnie Armstrongb

    Very interesting and colorful commentary!

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