The San Diego Chargers are 5-9 with two games left to play. They have no chance at making the playoffs and no chance at finishing .500. Their coaching staff will be revamped in the offseason, and the front office might be as well. The two teams they play in the final weeks of the season also have no chance at making the playoffs.
There is literally zero benefit for the Chargers to win either of their final two games. There is some benefit to losing them, as it could potentially improve San Diego's draft position in the 2013 NFL Draft. The most beneficial thing that could come out of these games? Getting "the kids" some snaps in a real, live NFL football game. There are some that will say Norv won't do that, because it hurts his overall record and therefore makes him look worse. To them I say that the order should come down from Dean (or AJ), and if Norv won't follow the orders it is grounds for dismissal (possibly without pay).
Anyway, those are the politics of the situation. I'm not interested in those. I'm interested in building a starting lineup for Sunday's game against the New York Jets, so let's do that.
QB: Charlie Whitehurst
We've been over this. It's even more relevant now.
RB: Le'Ron McClain
Seriously. McClain was signed to replace Mike Tolbert as the team's power running back, and immediately lost that job to Jackie Battle. McClain can't really catch, either, which means that he's basically been a block-only FB (and he's not very good at blocking). Give him a chance to run with the ball a bit and see if he still has "it".
FB: Le'Ron McClain
When you want a Fullback on certain plays, move McClain there. If he's already running the ball a bit, defenses will have to respect him as a possible running option out of the FB spot as well. Ronnie Brown or Curtis Brinkley can fill in as RB when McClain is at FB.
LT: Mike Harris
LG: Rex Hadnot
C: Colin Baxter
RG: Louis Vasquez
RT: Jeromey Clary
Can't do much with the Tackles because there's not many to choose from.
TE: Ladarius Green
Antonio Gates tied Alworth's team record in touchdowns and will be back next season to break it. Right now it's more important to see if Green is ready to be the #2 TE next season, and it's important to get him snaps on the field if he's to eventually replace Gates.
WR1: Danario Alexander
Same spot he's been in already.
WR2: Mike Willie
Why the heck not? Putting Ronald Meachem back out there this season isn't going to accomplish much. Willie and Whitehurst had some chemistry in the preseason, and fans want to see if Willie could eventually become a starting WR.
Slot WR: Micheal Spurlock
He's earned some more snaps/targets.
RDE: Corey Liuget
NT: Cam Thomas
LDE: Kendall Reyes
Not a lot of options here, plus these kids seem to get better with experience.
ROLB: Larry English
At just 26 years of age, English still falls into the category of "kids" that we need to get on the field so that they can be evaluated.
Sam ILB: Jonas Mouton
Takeo Spikes doesn't need to prove anything to anyone, plus he's been somewhat terrible. Mouton has plenty to prove. This is an easy call.
Mike ILB: Andrew Gachkar
Again, why the heck not? Donald Butler might be healthy, as might Demorrio Williams. There's also Gary Guyton, who can play here, but why not give Gachkar a chance? I can remember two ILBs that were seen as "special teams specialists" that eventually became good starters for the Chargers (Stephen Cooper, Tim Dobbins). It's worth checking into, as Gachkar could earn the spot as Donald Butler's backup.
LOLB: Melvin Ingram
This is probably welcoming a whole lot of Ingram being embarrassed in coverage by Dustin Keller, but that's how a lot of players learn how to get better. Plus, it's not like the defense is going up against Peyton Manning. Give Ingram 60% of the snaps and see if he can't get a couple of sacks to remove the worry that fans have about his lack of production this season.
FS: Eric Weddle
I have a hard time taking Weddle off the field. If you really wanted to, Corey Lynch could fill in here.
SS: Brandon Taylor
This should've happened a while ago, but the Chargers finally stuck Taylor in at the SS spot in the fourth quarter of the game against the Panthers. Everyone is eager to see what the kid can do.
CB1: Shareece Wright
CB2: Marcus Gilchrist
Because the Chargers have babied Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason, never making them play on a side of the field that they're not comfortable with, it makes picking a Nickel CB a little trickier. I'd go with Jammer, who would be better in short-yardage coverage, could blitz and would help the run game. Actually, let's consider it an audition for Jammer to be the team's nickel CB next season.
PR/KR: Eddie Royal
Royal used to be a dangerous return weapon in this league. Let's give him a chance to do that again.
Do you agree with my starting lineup? Do you disagree? Let me know how your starting lineup would look in the comments below.