Thursday, August 19, 2010
2010 San Diego Chargers Preview
One thing is for sure; this is definitely not last season's Chargers squad. Aging franchise running back LaDainian Tomlinson was released in the off season, while emerging #1 receiver Vicent Jackson looks to be out for 10 games after holding out due to a contract dispute. Still, the Chargers have enough talent on the roster to remain relevant in the AFC.
Quick; who led the AFC in passer rating in 2009? If you guessed anyone besides Philip Riversthen you were incorrect. Rivers is the unquestioned face of the offense with Tomlinson now toting the pigskin for the Jets. The Chargers chose to draft highly-touted RB Ryan Mathews to fill his shoes. Mathews is a tough runner who should make an impact immediately. He will be backed up by change of pace speedster Darren Sproles. Rivers loves to fling the ball downfield and All-Pro TE Antonio Gates remains his favorite target and is a virtual lock for 80 catches, double digit TDs and around 1,000 yards. The other options in the passing game are WRs Malcom Floyd & Legedu Naanee (if you asked "Who?" you are not alone). Floyd is a big receiver and a nice target for Rivers in the red-zone while the verdict is still out on Naanee as a starting NFL receiver.
Despite having playmakers a plenty, the defense only finished in the middle of the pack in 2009. They run a base 3-4 set, with the linemen occupying blocks and allowing LBs Shaun Phillips & Shawne Merriman to get in the backfield and be disruptive, either by rushing the passer or stopping backs for a loss. If Merriman can return to form he'll be impossible to block consistently. CB Quentin Jammer is solid in coverage and trading Antonio Cromartie to NY opens up a starting nod for 2008 ist round CB Antoine Cason to prove he get the job done.
The Chargers are in one of the NFL's worst divisions and luckily for them it won't take much to win it. The new pieces on offense will make 2010 an up & down season for San Diego but if the young unit can gel quickly the Chargers could have a nice foundation to be good for seasons to come.