Everyone who watched the Chargers towards the end of last season knew there were some big changes coming heading into this offseason. There were times when it was obvious players were so lost that Rivers would give up on plays and throw the ball in the dirt. In steps new head coach Mike McCoy, an offensive minded man who studied under John Fox. Many are interested to see what he is going to bring to the table.
Everyone around the organization blames the players around Philip Rivers, not him for last season performance. He needs to come out this year and prove that he still has it or people won't be so forgiving. He led the league in passer rating from 2008-2010 with an astounding 103.8. With a new head coach and a new offensive coordinator in Whisenhunt Rivers will have to learn a new system. The good news is he still has the physical tools to do anything they ask of him, although he is not that mobile. Whisenhunt has a proven offensive mind and he should be able to put Rivers and the others in positions to succeed.
The team needs Mathews to have a solid season, and that starts with staying healthy. He is not the best run blocker, and at times he has struggled in picking up blitzes, but he is the best runner the team has on the roster. They need him to add balance to the passing attack that Rivers can bring.
They also need to get more out of their receivers. They signed Meachem to a big contract in 2012 and barely used him. He is capable of much more than they ask of him. Floyd is still the man on this unit, and he won't falter. He's not really a No. 1 receiver in the league, but he is on this roster. Vincent Brown missed last season with a broken ankle and the team will really appreciate having him back. He will provide a dependable option in the red zone. Antonio Gates isn't what he once was. He still makes some impressive catches, but he is not as sure-handed as he once was. He is nearing the end of his career.
John Pagano stuck around as the defensive coordinator and for good reason. By the end of last season this unit was progressing and at times looking dominant. Their strength lies with defensive line, particularly with their young ends, Liuget and Reyes. Liuget was a first round pick in 2011 and Reyes was a 2nd rounder in 2012. They are savvy, relentless players who make plays all over the field. Liuget has developed into a player that demands double teams. He really helps free up the linebackers to make plays.
Losing Phillips was a hit for the linebackers, but they still have talent. Ingram has a lot of potential, but he didn't live up to it in his first year. The team will need him to continue to develop for this unit to move forward. He will need to be the primary pass rusher coming off the outside. They also got a really good deal with Manti Te'o in the 2nd round. We all know about the drama that was attached to him last year, but few remember how high he was rated on draft boards before that. He was the star of a Notre Dame defense that went to the Big Game. He may not have all the physical ability of some prospects, but he has a nose for the football and loves to play the game, you can't teach that.
Everyone wants to win right now and the new coaches are no different. However, winning right now may be the most realistic. They know that to be successful in the NFL you have to have a long term outlook. There is still a lot of young talent on this roster and they are installing a new system, that means there is going to be a learning curve. They may beat the 7-9 mark they achieved last season, but with Denver in the division they won't take the AFC West. If everything goes according to plan, this is a season in which we should see slow and solid improvement.