In San Diego, the weather is nice, the people are great and most importantly, they’re all about the Chargers; a football team that is usually in the playoff picture or as close as can be. They’re a gritty team built on the run game and a staggering defense. Phillip Rivers is one tough guy. Always taking a beating under center, he finds ways to make plays and carry his team.
Last season was ugly for the Chargers. That mean/gritty defense didn’t exist, the run game was absent and at more times then not, it was the most frustrating part of the entire team. They finished with a 4-12 record, last place in the AFC West.
What exactly went wrong last season?
They entered 2015 as if they were ready to take a step forward and become a true contender. Drafting Melvin Gordon, they stole Broncos OT Orlando Franklin in free agency and bolstered a secondary unit with guys like Eric Weddle, Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers. With such talent, it was clear the team was headed in the right direction….At least we thought….
The injury bug struck, the team became drenched with sub-par play and then they hit a six game losing streak early on in the season. Going 2-8 halfway through, basically guaranteed that this team would struggle to win just two more games.
The only positives for the Chargers 2015 campaign was that their offense ranked eighth most in passing efficiency. Rivers was solid, as usual, posting 4,792 passing yards, 29 touchdowns to only 13 interceptions. He earned an average of about 300 yards per game, finishing his 12th NFL season with a QB rating of 93.8 (same as in 2014).
WR Keenan Allen was off to a decent start in 2015 recording 67 receptions for 725 yards and four touchdowns, all in his first 8 games. Unfortunately, Allen ended up missing half of the season due to a lacerated kidney. The fact that Rivers produced great stats while missing his number one target for half of the season is wonderful, at least when you look at the positives in such a down year.
One of the biggest reasons why the Chargers struggled was because RB Melvin Gordon couldn’t run well whatsoever. San Diego held the second least efficient rushing attack in the NFL. Granted, the offensive line was struck with injuries to key lineman throughout, is there doubt that Gordon would have done better with a healthier O-line? Maybe.
The defense ranked 29th overall, which was a step back from the year before. They failed to produce a lot of turnovers, they gave up a lot of points and just didn’t live up to expectations.
Will The Chargers “Bolt up” in 2016?
There is reason to believe the Chargers “Bolt Up” and kick some ass. It depends on whose ass of course….With a division like the AFC West, where will they fit in?
The defending SB champions, Denver, is obviously still considered to be the top team, even without Manning and a few others…
Kansas City has been consistent. They’ve been winning games and fighting for the playoffs since Andy Reid came to town, what makes you think that will change this year?
Oakland is probably the best team on the rise. They finished 2015 with a 7-9 record and most would agree that they will improve in 2016. The words “trending up” describes them to a “T”. That entire team has been slowly built for success over the past few seasons and they might just shock the NFL world this season and make the playoffs.
Taking all of these things into consideration, if the Chargers can remain healthy, the opportunities will be there. Opportunities to win games and bounce back from an awful 2015 year.
3 Keys To Success:
1. Keenan Allen needs to have a superb year. If he can break the teams single-season receptions record, that would be awesome. Actually, that would be freaking incredible! LT holds that record, however, if Rivers can continue to put up stellar stats, Allen should have no problem breaking the record, at least if he can stay healthy. Good numbers will reflect a fantastic passing game, which is a key to success these days in the NFL.
2. The front seven must apply pressure consistently! With the additions of NT Brandon MeBane, DE Joey Bosa and LB’s Jatavis Brown and Joshua Perry, there is no reason why this unit should struggle. Second year LB Denzel Perryman needs to play a full season. If their defense can be a top 15 unit, this team should be able to have some success creating turnovers and giving rhe offense more opportunities.
3. The offense needs to rank in the top 10 in order for this team to be in good position to win the division and/or make the playoffs. Phillip Rivers is 34 and there’s no telling how much longer he will play or if his aging body can stay healthy. After years and years of getting nailed because his O-line couldn’t do their job, it is crucial for him to be protected consistently. With Gordon returning from injury, as well as Allen, this offense should be stingy and Rivers could look like an MVP candidate again, much like he did last season before the injuries piled on.
I enjoy watching the Chargers play, even after a rough year. I think they will turn things around, but I’m not saying they will win their division or anything. I call it a bittersweet symphony for them in 2016. They will finish around the 8-8 mark, miss the playoffs and finish in the bottom half of the AFC West. It’ll be a much improved season from 2015, but still somewhat disappointing.
Maybe they will prove me wrong? What do you think?
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Original Article – http://nflchalktalk.com/will-chargers-bolt/