The New Regime.
AJ Smith? Gone. Replacement? The man who helped build the Indianapolis Colts roster into one of the most talented and deepest in the entire NFL, Tom Telesco. He adds talent the right way, through the Draft, and we found that out this past April. He is not scared to make the bold move to get what he wants, and he showed that by trading up for former Notre Dame standout Manti Te'o. He makes quick, but not rash decisions. Melvin Ingram goes down, and what does he do? He signs a future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer in Dwight Freeney, who played for him back in Indy. Tom Telesco was absolutely the right hire for a Chargers organization that badly needed a face lift from top to bottom. The Great Norv Turner (not really)? Gone. Who fills his shoes? Offensive wizard Mike McCoy, former quarterback. This guy. Two seasons ago, he was forced to pretty much throw his entire offense away mid-season, and reform it into a Tim Tebow friendly attack. What happens? Nothing much, just an overtime classic playoff win in the house of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The very next season, he was forced to re-tailor his offense for the legendary Peyton Manning, and the Denver Broncos won 13 games. He knows how to work with quarterbacks, and he knows how to win with what he has available. He should make the offense very simple for Philip Rivers, and in turn, Rivers could very well turn out more efficient than he ever was before. Mike McCoy hired another offensive mastermind to call plays and assist in the remolding of Philip Rivers, Ken Whisenhunt. Remember, just a few years ago, Whisenhunt and his Arizona Cardinals were on the doorstep of a championship. The new faces in the front office and on the coaching staff has totally revamped the organization entirely. Expect great things in the future from these new-hires.
Offensive Line Boosts.
Many question whether or not any of the free agent offensive lineman signed will be good enough to open good enough running lanes or form a solid enough pocket long enough for Philip to find his targets. I personally love all of the signings. King Dunlap is a starting offensive lineman in this league. Maybe he isn't top-tier, but he is far more versatile than most lineman. He can and has played every position on the line but center. Rich Orhnberger can play both center and guard, Chad Rinehart is a great zone-blocker, and Max Starks is very much an upgrade over any of the fill-ins we had last year. Not to mention the drafting of Alabama's DJ Fluker. He's an absolute monster on the right side. He'll bolster the right side for the next 10 years, easy. All of the new bodies will elevate the competition level, and everyone benefits from that. Whoever doesn't start will still add much needed depth. Philip Rivers must be ecstatic for this upcoming season, considering all of the new talent on the line. I see the opposite of last year happening this year. The line will block much better, and stay healthy for the most part.
Weapons, Weapons, Weapons.
You can never have too many weapons on offense, and that's exactly how Telesco and McCoy look at it. With a receiving corps already consisting of Malcom Floyd, who is underrated, Danario Alexander, a breakout candidate, and a healthy Vincent Brown, Tom decided to take California's Keenan Allen in the 3rd round of the Draft. Allen was considered by many, including myself, to be a 1st round talent. A knee injury caused a slide, but make no mistake, Keenan can ball. He was absolutely electrifying with the ball in his hands. His addition gives the Chargers 4 starting caliber receivers. We can all agree that Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal did not live up to their contracts, but a brand new system that actually fits to their strengths, a quick-passing attack, could really
have a positive effect on them, and they could turn their play around. Antonio Gates still has some left in the tank, and that still makes him dangerous. Gates still has the talent to be a Pro Bowl caliber player. The running back stable is deeper this season, much deeper. Ryan Mathews is healthy, for now, Ronnie Brown was a receiving threat out of the backfield last year, and he showed he still has a little power left, and my favorite signing this off season, Danny Woodhead (pictured above), is going to be one of Rivers' favorite targets this season. Danny Woodhead is a Darren Sproles-like back, but I think he is an upgrade over even Sproles. He's faster, and a better receiver than Sproles, and he showed that plenty with Tom Brady and the Patriots. With Rivers having a new shifty scat back, he can confidently dump the ball of and let Danny get YAC. John Phillips is also an underrated signing. Known more for his great blocking, Phillips has surprisingly good hands, and could be a sneaky threat opposite Antonio Gates.
Extremely Young and Talented Defense.
Last year, our defense kept us in a lot of games. There were many players that surprised last season. Corey Liuget had a second-year leap in production, and was in my opinion snubbed of the Pro Bowl. He will only get better and better, and that's scary for opposing offenses. Donald Butler also showed lots of improvement, and was also snubbed of the Pro Bowl. He is a very athletic linebacker, and is very good at rushing the passer. Top flight safety Eric Weddle has yet to enter his prime, and is to my surprise, underrated by many. Derek Cox was another brilliant signing by Telesco. He has size and speed. He had as many interceptions last year as both of our starting corners, Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason combined. Shareece Wright was showing tons of promise early last season, but injuries slowed his progression. Manti Te'o will really tie this defense together. His leadership qualities, intelligence, and instincts will give San Diego quite the tandem at middle linebacker. Defensive Coordinator John Pagano stated that he'd accommodate the defense to fit new Bolt Dwight Freeney's strengths. He's one of the best ever at getting to the quarterback, and in a year when Melvin Ingram returns, the potential our pass rush will have is enormous. Not to mention Kendall Reyes, who really came into his own late last year. He'll have plenty of opportunities to grow this season.This defense will only get better with time.
For these reasons alone, there is good enough reason to have somewhat high expectations. What do you think? What don't you agree with? What would you add to this? Let me know.