With the decade of the 2010s in our rear view, the Bolts From The Blue staff formed a seven-member panel to determine our Los Angeles Chargers Team of the Decade. No specific rules were given for how to determine who belonged, so some weighted peak performance more than longevity and vise versa, but ultimately we had a pretty clear consensus. Anyway, without further ado, our Team of the 2010s:
Quarterback: Philip Rivers (2010-2019)
We start things off with the easiest choice for any position. Not only is he a future Hall of Famer and the best player at his position in franchise history, Rivers is also the only player to make a start at quarterback during the last decade. He might be the best to ever play for the Chargers and he’s an even better person.
Running Back: Ryan Mathews (2010-2014)
The former Fresno State runner was unable to fill the shoes of LaDainian Tomlinson, but when all was said and done, he had the best Chargers career of any Bolts running back during the decade. His replacement, Gordon, did a passable job as well, but he was unable to match the year-to-year consistency or the ceiling of what Mathews did in his five years in lightning bolts. Mathews doesn’t have the same flashy touchdown numbers as his successor, but on a per play basis, he was the best the Chargers have had since Tomlinson.
Also receiving vote(s): Melvin Gordon (2015-2019)
Wide Receivers: Keenan Allen (2013-2019) and Malcom Floyd (2010-2015)
The third-rounder out of Cal was an easy unanimous selection. He accumulated over 500 receptions, over 6,000 yards, and got in the end zone 34 times. He was also indisputably one of the National Football League’s finest route runners from the first day he stepped on a professional football field.
Floyd was not as obvious of a choice as Allen, but he was an outstanding football player for the Chargers for 6 seasons during this decade. Despite primarily working deep down the field, Floyd was one of the NFL’s most efficient receivers. He appeared in the top 10 of both DYAR and DVOA multiple times.
Also receiving vote(s): Vincent Jackson (2010-2011)
Tight End: Antonio Gates (2010-2018)
Did you know that 85 used to play basketball? Not only was Antonio Gates by far the best tight end to play for the Chargers this decade, he’s also one of the best pass catching tight ends in the history of the game. Only a handful of players (Hall of Famers or future Hall of Famers) are even in the same conversation.
Flex O: Austin Ekeler (2017-2019)
Rather than lock ourselves into 21 personnel the way so many of these sort of lists do, we left the door open to a third receiver or second tight end. It just so happens, we ended up with another player in the backfield anyway. Austin Ekeler has been the most dynamic playmaker the Chargers have had since Darren Sproles and he’s done it for the last three years instead of just once at the beginning of the decade, so he got the nod here.
Also receiving vote(s): Mike Tolbert (2010-2011) and Darren Sproles (2010)
Left Tackle: King Dunlap (2013-2016)
After watching the Chargers offensive line this season with Okung sidelined due to health concerns, Chargers fans probably have a greater appreciation than most for how important the position is right now. The Chargers have been lucky to have three very good players at the position this decade, but a plurality selected Dunlap to be the starter.
Also receiving vote(s): Marcus McNeill (2010-2011) and Russell Okung (2017-2019)
Left Guard: Kris Dielman (2010-2011)
Dielman had only two seasons this decade and one was injury-shortened, but left guard has been a black hole since he retired. Dirty Dielman set the bar for Chargers left guards incredibly high and we are all still waiting to someone even come close to rising to it.
Center: Nick Hardwick (2010-2014)
The former wrestler out of Purdue was the anchor of the Chargers line for the first half of the decade, and he was easily a unanimous choice to for the All-Decade squad.
Right Guard: Louis Vasquez (2010-2012)
Given what followed you could be forgiven for thinking the Chargers made a mistake in letting Louis Vasquez walk in free agency. The guard position in general has not been pretty for the Chargers for most of the last 10 years and at right guard that started when Vasquez went out the door.
Right Tackle: Jeromey Clary (2010-2014)
Sometimes, you just don’t appreciate something until it’s gone. That is certainly the case with Jeromey Clary who was often critiqued as being the weak spot along the offensive line when he joined the Chargers, but now sitting here in 2020, one can’t help realizing that early 2010s Clary would have been the best right tackle of the 2019 Chargers roster by a long way.
Also receiving vote(s): Joe Barksdale (2015-2018)
Edge Rushers: Joey Bosa (2016-2019) and Melvin Ingram (2012-2019)
Both Bosa and Ingram were unanimous selections. They are the Chargers sack leaders for the decade, and it is not especially close. Ingram leads the way with 49.0 and Bosa, in over 50 fewer games, sits at 40. You might be inclined to think of Shaun Phillips, but his best days were behind him by the time we got to 2010. For additional context, those marks are good for 4th & 8th on all-time franchise leaderboard.
Defensive Interior: Corey Liuget (2011-2018) and Damion Square (2014-2019)
Some might still think of Liuget as a disappointment given his draft position, but after 8 seasons as a Charger, he was the only unanimously selected interior defensive lineman we could come up with. Alabama product, Damion Square, went undrafted out of college and bounced from the Eagles to the Chiefs before landing with the Chargers where he has been one of the most consistent and hardest working defensive linemen we have had the pleasure of watching this last decade.
Also receiving vote(s): Luis Castillo (2010-2011) and Antonio Garay (2010-2012)
Nose tackle: Brandon Mebane (2016-2019)
Brandon Mebane just edged out Antonio Garay in part because one member of the panel elected to list Garay under defensive interior instead of nose tackle, but hey, you have to break ties somehow. The former Seahawk may have been on the downslope of his career when he arrived in San Diego, but he is still the starter on our All-Decade team.
Also receiving vote(s): Antonio Garay (2010-2012)
Linebackers: Donald Butler (2011-2015) and Takeo Spikes (2011-2012)
If you told Chargers fans in 2012 that 36-year-old Takeo Spikes was the best inside linebacker we would see for the rest of the decade, I can’t imagine people would have believed you, but here we are and he was by far the best we saw. Donald Butler takes the second inside spot almost by default. This was not a good decade for Chargers linebackers.
Cornerbacks: Casey Hayward (2016-2019) and Quentin Jammer (2010-2012)
The Bolts had plenty of good cornerbacks this decade, but none were in the same tier as Casey Hayward and Quentin Jammer. These two were easily the best to do the job for San Diego and then Los Angeles, and you don’t get much better than this pairing.
Strong Safety: Derwin James (2018-2019)
Despite only playing a season and a half, Derwin James was the only real option since most of the strong safety play we got to see this past decade was mediocre-to-bad (see: Jahleel Addae).
Free Safety: Eric Weddle (2010-2015)
The best free safety in franchise history is also (surprise!) the best free safety of the decade in which he played. Go figure, right? Weddle is your team-leader in both tackles and interceptions. Since they let him walk after 2015, the Chargers are still searching for a replacement heading into the 2020 offseason.
Kicker: Nick Novak (2011-2014, 2017)
This one was actually a tie between Novak and the Money Badger. We let our lone Josh Lambo voter break that tie and so the two-time Charger got the spot. Novak was a consistent presence at the kicker position for 4 seasons and even came back in 2017 to hold it down again.
Also receiving vote(s): Michael Badgley (2018-2019) and Josh Lambo (2015-2016)
Punter: Mike Scifres (2010-2015)
Mike Scifres didn’t manage to win a playoff game single-handedly this decade, but he was still the best punter we got to watch during the decade and he did it for 6 years. There was no other consideration at the position.