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Will the San Diego Chargers offense improve in 2013?

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Telesco and McCoy are looking beyond 2013 for rebuilding the San Diego Chargers, but will we see progress this year?

Kent Horner

Offseason workouts have started, and we are finally getting our first glimpse of what the 2013 Chargers will look like. The major question is if they look like an improvement over the 2012 Chargers team. We all know Tom Telesco and Mike McCoy are playing the long game, and are not necessarily looking to win it all in the 2013 season.

With the Dwight Freeney and Max Starks signings, Tom Telesco has largely used up the last of the cap space available to attain impact players. That gives us the freedom to take a look at the roster, and see if it the Chargers have improved.

To do this, let's look at the roster position by position, comparing to last year's team. We will list all players who were signed by the Chargers last year, and include the number of games played. For this year's team, rookies will be noted, and what round they were drafted in, or if they were undrafted.

First we'll look at the offense, and address the defense in another post.

Quarterback

2012

  • Philip Rivers (16)
  • Charlie Whitehurst (0)

2013

  • Mike Hermann (R - U)
  • Philip Rivers
  • Brad Sorensen (R - 7)
  • Charlie Whitehurst

Analysis: Philip Rivers was the only quarterback to see the field for the Chargers last season, and he was pretty bad. As poor as his showing was, however, I still believe that he was better than Charlie Whitehurst would have been. Rivers will be the starter again, of course. It is possible that the Chargers could keep three quarterbacks on the roster this season. That coupled with Rivers likely improving on last year's showing implies that the Chargers should see improved QB play over last season.

Verdict: Better than last year

Running Back

2012

  • Jackie Battle (16)
  • Ronnie Brown (14)
  • Ryan Mathews (12)
  • Curtis Brinkley (10)
  • Edwin Baker (0)

2013

  • Edwin Baker
  • Ronnie Brown
  • Michael Hill (R - U)
  • Ryan Matthews
  • Foswhitt Whittaker (R - U)
  • Danny Woodhead

Analysis: Two words on this- DANNY. WOODHEAD.

There is a slim chance that one of Baker/Hill/Whittaker makes the final 53, but I doubt it. Fozzy Whittaker is a totally awesome name, though. Points for that.

Verdict: WAY BETTER

Fullback

2012

  • Le'Ron McClain (16)

2013

  • Chris Gronkowski
  • Le'Ron McClain

Analysis: McClain was pretty meh last season, and Gronkowski is on his fourth team in four years.

Verdict: No improvement, but not worse either

Wide Receivers

2012

  • Robert Meachem (15)
  • Malcom Floyd (14)
  • Danario Alexander (10)
  • Eddie Royal (10)
  • Micheal Spurlock (8)
  • Richard Goodman (7)
  • Seyi Ajirotutu (3)
  • Vincent Brown (0)

2013

  • Danario Alexander
  • Keenan Allen (R - 3)
  • Vincent Brown
  • Deon Butler
  • Dan DePalma (R - U)
  • Malcom Floyd
  • Richard Goodman
  • Robert Meachem
  • Eddie Royal
  • Luke Tasker (R - U)
  • Mike Willie

Analysis: A healthy Vincent Brown, plus the addition of Keenan Allen can only mean good things for this group. The top 5 looks something like Alexander/Allen/Brown/Floyd/Meachem to my eye. If the Chargers do retain a 6th WR, it will likely be Royal.

Verdict: Improved

Tight Ends

2012

  • Randy McMichael (16)
  • Antonio Gates (15)
  • Dante Rosario (13)
  • Ladarius Green (4)

2013

  • Ben Cotton (R - U)
  • Antonio Gates
  • Ladarius Green
  • Kyle Nelson
  • John Phillips
  • David Rolf (R - U)
  • Dallas Walker (R - U)

Analysis: Gates isn't getting any younger, and with his injury history, I have trouble believing he will go for 15-16 games again. Going from Randy McMichael to John Phillips is a pretty poor tradeoff, at least in terms of on-field production. Both tight ends are fine blockers, but with McMichael, defenses would have to at least respect his ability to run routes and catch the ball. So far in his career, Phillips has not proven to be much of a receiving threat. If Gates were to be injured, Green would have to step up as the pass-catching tight end. Is he ready? We really don't know.

Verdict: Worse than last year, unless Ladarius Green proves me wrong

Center

2012

  • Nick Hardwick (16)
  • David Molk (12)
  • Colin Baxter (4)

2013

  • Colin Baxter
  • Nick Hardwick
  • David Molk

Analysis: We can pretty safely say we'll probably get about the same level of play at Center as we did last year.

Verdict: Push

Guard

2012

  • Rex Hadnot (16)
  • Louis Vasquez (16)
  • Tyronne Green (13)
  • Stephen Schilling (2)
  • Johnnie Troutman (0)
  • Reggie Wells (0)

2013

  • *Jeromey Clary
  • Rich Ohrnberger
  • Chad Rinehart
  • Stephen Schilling
  • Johnnie Troutman

Analysis: Clary is listed as a Tackle, of course, but we are listed him under Guard here, as this is currently where it appears he'll be playing this season, barring injury. The loss of Vasquez is huge, and there is a lot of turnover at this position. It is difficult to say how the starting positions will turn out for the offensive line, but at least for the start of the season, this looks like a downgrade.

Verdict: Worse than last year, but there is potential to be better by the end of the season.

Tackle

2012

  • Michael Harris (15)
  • Jeromey Clary (14)
  • Kevin Haslam (5)
  • Jared Gaither (4)
  • Brandyn Dombrowski (0)

2013

  • Nick Becton (R - U)
  • Jeromey Clary
  • Brandyn Dombrowski
  • King Dunlap
  • D.J. Fluker (R - 1)
  • Mike Harris
  • Randy Richards (R - U)
  • Max Starks

Analysis: Michael Harris to Max Starks? Jeromey Clary to D.J. Fluker? Yes please. Suddenly the Chargers have some options here. Granted, they are merely adequate options, but it is better than what was on the field last season. Considering we couldn't have been much worse at LT last season, and the team still has Clary to fall back on if Fluker doesn't work out. That leaves only one choice for the decision here.

Verdict: UPGRADE COMPLETE.

Final Verdict

Of the eight units that we looked at here, I think 4 will improve, 2 will regress, and 2 will remain about the same. Also, the improved units are coming in at key positions such as quarterback, running back, and offensive tackle. That, combined with better coaching, suggests that the Chargers offense next season will be better than that of the season before.