The reasons why the Chargers won't make the playoffs was a shorter list than most in recent memory. The front office has done a great job of building the roster, and here is why it will be good enough to get the Bolts back in the playoffs after a year off.
This group of cornerbacks and safeties should be the best group that San Diego has seen in my 10 years or so following this team closely.
Patrick Robinson, the team's third corner, looks to be better than either starter the team sent out in a playoff season 2 years ago. Brandon Flowers earned a hefty extension based on stellar play in 2014, and Jason Verrett will absolutley be a star as long as he is on the field. Oh and that safety that the Chargers apparently don't want to commit to long term is the best overall safety in the game.
This extremely talented group will allow defensive coordinator John Pagano to be more creative in his play design, but whether or not he actually... you know what? We won't go there. This group is going to be one of the best units in the league, and should make the Chargers defense very frustrating to face.
The Offensive Line
My last piece detailed my concern for how long it may take this group to come together, but there is no doubt it is the most talented offensive line Charger fans have seen since the LT days.
Orlando Franklin replacing Chad Rinehart is like replacing your Bud Light with a Sculpin, and the transition of D.J. Fluker to guard will allow him to play to the best of his abilities.
Flash back to 2010, Philip Rivers was playing some of the best football of his career throwing to Gary Banks and Seyi Ajirotutu. As long as the offensive line is taking care of business, Rivers will keep the offense on schedule.
Last season, we really saw how important Danny Woodhead was once he went down. Woodhead is a great route runner out of the backfield, and not a bad runner as well. The Chargers get him back, and welcome Stevie Johnson to the team. Johnson is an unorthodox route runner, but a highly effective one. An accurate passer like Rivers with tremendous ability to throw with anticipation should give Johnson one of the best seasons of his career and give slot cornerbacks fits all season long.
Last season, Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco faced heavy criticism with his exceedingly conservative approach when it came to things like 4th down calls and lack of personnel change. That is why the release of proven kicker Nick Novak came as such a surprise. Novak was incredibly accurate, but the Chargers were losing valuable field position and return risk with his kickoffs.
I like this Chargers' roster, but they are not good enough to play it safe in every situation and expect to compete for a championship. Even though it was just a kicker, this appears as though it could be the first step in the new front office become more comfortable with taking risks. You have to bet money to win money.