Football Outsiders has been ranking the top teams of the past 30 years using DVOA, which is their rating metric and stands for “defense-adjusted value over average”. According to Football Outsiders, DVOA is a measurement of “success on each play based on down and distance, then comparing it to an NFL average baseline adjusted for situation and opponent”.
Recently, Football Outsiders released their final ranking of the top 30 teams of the past 30 years, and one special Chargers team found itself on the list. The 2006 San Diego Chargers are slated firmly at #28 with a DVOA of +32.4 percent. Here is what Football Outsiders had to say about ‘06 squad:
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that watched the Chargers back then that this team would make a list such as this one. The ‘06 Bolts squad, led by Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson, was undoubtedly the best team in professional football that season. Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane, shall we?
It’s the 2006 NFL season. Marty Schottenheimer is the coach of the then San Diego Chargers, and he is ready to lead his team back to the postseason after having missed the playoffs the previous season. He has a young gunner quarterback by the name of Philip Rivers who will be entering the season as a first-time starter, having sat for two years behind the previous starter Drew Brees. However, the inexperience of his quarterback doesn't matter, as the Chargers have an established superstar and possibly the best player in the league behind him at running back. His name is LaDainian Tomlinson.
Also on offense was another budding star in 3rd-year tight end Antonio Gates. Defensively, the Bolts were led by the feared NT Jamal Williams and Mr. “Lights Out” Shawne Merriman. With the pieces in place, the Chargers came out of the gates strong, winning the first two games of the season. After a minor setback against the Baltimore Ravens in week 4, the Chargers won two in a row before suffering a loss to the division rival Kansas City Chiefs. After that loss the Chargers would go to win 10 games in a row, finishing with a league-best 14-2 record and the top seed in the AFC playoffs. LaDainian Tomlinson had put together a season that would earn him league MVP honors, setting the record for most touchdowns in a single season with 31 (28 rushing, 2 receiving). The Chargers were the clear favorites to reach the Super Bowl, but unfortunately, they came up just short in the divisional round, falling to the New England Patriots.
It may not have ended the way anyone had hoped for, but the 2006 San Diego Chargers stand among the best teams of the past three decades, and that is saying a lot. And for those of you who are interested, the team that earned the top spot on Football Outsiders list was the 1991 Washington Redskins.
Where do you think the 2006 Chargers rank among the top teams of the past few decades? Feel free to share your thought in the comments section below.