All season long, I've been looking for comparisons. Mostly because this season doesn't make a ton of sense. With no real time left in the season, I've decided to settle on the 2010 Chargers as the best comparison for the 2013 Chargers. Let me try and explain why.
- The 2010 team started out 2-5 before finishing 9-7. Marcus McNeill missed 5 games and Louis Vasquez missed 6.
- The 2013 team started out 4-6 and could finish 9-7. King Dunlap has missed 5 games and Chad Rinehart has missed 6.
El Capitan Rides Again
Take a gander at Philip Rivers' DVOA over the years:
- 2010: 27.9%
- 2011: 17.0%
- 2012: -7.3%
- 2013: 34.5%
The franchise QB is back!
- 2010 was Ron Rivera's second full year as Defensive Coordinator with the Chargers, although he had held the same position running a 4-3 defense with the Chicago Bears. From 2009 to 2010, San Diego's defense improved from 23rd best in the league to 7th best (going by DVOA).
- 2013 is John Pagano's second full year as a Defensive Coordinator in the league, both years being spent with San Diego. While the defense has been terrible for much of the year, Pagano seems to have figured out a good mix in December.
Screwed by the Chiefs/Jets
- Despite their late run, the 2010 Chargers missed the playoffs with their 9-7 record. The division was taken by the 10-6 Kansas City Chiefs and the last wild card spot was occupied by the 11-5 Jets.
- Despite their late run, the 2013 Chargers could miss the playoffs with a 9-7 record. The division is taken by the Denver Broncos and the last wild card spot will be likely occupied by the Miami Dolphins if they beat the New York Jets. Although it would be just like the Chargers to lose their final game to the Chiefs' backups.
So, What's the Point?
The point of any comparison is to learn.
The 2010 team was very good and probably should've gotten into the playoffs and done some damage, but they killed themselves with the slow start. We've been saying the same thing about the 2013 team for weeks, that losses to the Redskins and Titans would kill them in the long run, but it's too late to fix that. What we can hope to fix is the transition to next season.
The 2011 team still had Rivers and the entire offensive line. It still had Vincent Jackson, Mike Tolbert and Ryan Mathews. The defensive front seven changed, but you could easily argue that it got more talented.
So, why did they go from being able to go 7-2 at the end of the 2010 season to finishing 8-8 in 2011? Well, in a nutshell, coaching (and Darren Sproles). Ron Rivera left for Carolina, taking offensive assistant coach Rob Chudzinski with him. They were replaced by Greg Manusky and, well, nobody really replaced Chudzinski. Darren Sproles was also replaced by nobody.
Even if they miss the playoffs, the Chargers will once again be in a similar situation of having to replace at least one mportant coordinator this offseason because there is no way Ken Whisenhunt isn't a head coach in 2014. How they handle the loss will determine how successful Mike McCoy's run in San Diego can be.
Personally, I think A.J. Smith and Norv Turner made a huge mistake by trying to hire a guy that they were comfortable with instead of someone that was actually good. So far, Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy don't seem to have a problem with bringing in strangers if those strangers can help the team win (best example of this being Joe D'Alessandris).