Welcome to our new weekly feature titled "Steve stopped writing and nobody else posts on weekends so I might as well throw something together". Just kidding, that title is terrible for SEO. The real title is Weekend Chargers Thoughts, and it will be a little more off-the-cuff and opinionated than our normal stuff.
This week, I'd like to address the fans that are panicking. Here's how I know that they're out there: My dad. Allow me to explain. My dad is more of a normal football fan than his stat-obsessed son. He gets about 99% of his sports news from ESPN. Here's the conversation I had with him last night:
Dad: Did Kris Dielman retire?
Dad: How are we going to replace him?
Me: *shrugging shoulders*
Dad: What does that mean?
Me: Well, the Chargers will replace him. Probably with Tyronne Green. But first they need to worry about signing Nick Hardwick.
Dad: Hardwick's a free agent?!?
Dad: Oh, god. Philip Rivers isn't going to have any time to throw downfield! Vincent Jackson will be useless! We might as well trade him!
You can imagine where it went from there. By time I was rattling off the names Marcus McNeill, Antonio Garay and Mike Tolbert, my dad was deciding which team he was going to root for in the playoffs next season after the Chargers miss getting in for the 3rd consecutive season.
After the jump, I'll tell you why we probably won't be screwed.
It's pretty simple. Hardwick and Jared Gaither will be re-signed. There's no reason for them not to sign and the Chargers have the cap room. Tyronne Green will be fine. The offensive line, like always, will be "good" but its value will rest mostly in its ability to stay healthy.
Vincent Jackson will be replaced by someone. My guess is some speedy WR in the draft, but that's purely speculation. Either way, the offense was fine in the days of Keenan McCardell and Eric Parker. All they need is Rivers, Gates and a good offensive line.
The key is the defense. Whether or not the Chargers are screwed rests almost entirely with the defense. Add a force at pass-rusher (do I even need to say his name anymore?) and the team suddenly becomes incredibly balanced and a favorite to get to the Super Bowl. Try and go to battle with Shaun Phillips, Antwan Barnes and Larry English (or a rookie that does a good Larry English impersonation), and there's a good chance San Diego misses the playoffs again and Norv and A.J. lose their jobs.
It's that simple. Let's just hope that the-free-agent-who-shant-be-named (because I'm tired of his name already) finds San Diego to be as wonderful as does everyone else who visits.