2014 NFL Season Preview- San Diego Chargers
After missing the playoffs in three straight seasons, the San Diego Chargers fired head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith after the 2012 season. The team then hired Tom Telesco to be the new general manager and brought in former Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy to be the teams new head coach.
In then first 12 games, the team was 5-7 with little hope of making the playoffs. They went on to win their final four games (with a little help from a bad call in the season finale) and was able to grab the final wild card spot. The team then upset Cincinnati and brought a lot of hope going into 2014.
Quarterback Philip Rivers had his best season after two years of mediocrity. Running back Ryan Matthews finally lived up to expectations and rushed for over 1,200 yards and six touchdowns. Running back Danny Woodhead led all NFL running backs with six touchdown catches and finished second on the team with 76 receptions.
Defensively the team struggled. The pass defense ranked in the bottom five and 23rd in overall defense. Safety Eric Weddle was the defenses only Pro Bowler and was hampered by trying to get the rest of the team lined up right.
The rookie class was arguable the league's best. Tackle D.J. Fluker played well at both left and right tackle, middle linebacker Manti Te'o made progress each week after being injured early, and wide receiver Keenan Allen was the steal of the draft and set franchise rookie records for receiving yards.
Chargers 2013 Rankings
Opponent Passing yds
Opponent Rushing yds
NFL Rank- 4th
NFL Rank- 13th
NFL Rank- 29th
NFL Rank- 12th
NFL Rank- 5th
NFL Rank- 23rd
The team knows they have to get better. Fans want to see the team they saw in December and January in the whole season.
After former Chargers offensive coordinator, Ken Whisenhunt, was hired by the Tennessee Titans to become their new head coach, the Chargers promoted Frank Reich to replace him. Reich spent last season as the Chargers' quarterback coach.
Notable additions- RB Donald Brown, CB Brandon Flowers, QB Kellen Clemens
Notable departures- RB Ronnie Brown, LB Larry English
Keenan Allen Highlights
2014 NFL Draft
Having the 25th overall pick in the draft, San Diego needed to address to voids on the team. Most notably at cornerback, nose tackle, and outside linebacker.
The cornerbacks were burned constantly in 2013. The corners were plagued by blown coverage and missed tackles. The position needs a consistent playmaker to which quarterbacks will want to avoid.
In the 3-4 defense, there needs to be a large presence at nose tackle. None of the defensive tackles on the roster are capable of taking on two or three blockers at a time.
With Dwight Freeney going down with injury, the team needs a pass rushing linebacker to prevent the secondary from covering to long.
San Diego went on to select TCU cornerback Jason Verrett with the 25th pick. Verrett was seen as the best coverage corner in the draft. He was mainly criticized for not being strong enough to fend of blockers.
The team also picked up Baylor wide receiver Tevin Reese in the seventh round. Reese was praised for his speed and had 22 touchdowns of over 40 yards. His small frame will prevent him from becoming an every down player.
Jason Verrett Highlights
What to Expect
Going into 2014, the offense is on pace to continue the success they had the previous year. Phillip Rivers will continue to make smart, accurate decisions and will be able to grasp more of Mike McCoy's offense in year two. By adding Donald Brown, the team now has a trio of running backs that can be an impact on the offense. Ryan Matthews will be the starter, Danny Woodshed will remain to be a third down receiving threat, And Brown will be used primarily as a change of pace back. Keenan Allen will be expected to continue the success he had as a rookie and tight end Antonio Gates will still see consistent production.
By adding Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett at cornerback, the defense now has a pair of corners who are proven cavemen. The pass rush is still in question due Dwight Freeney coming back from injury and Melvin Ingram not living up to expectations. The team still needs a defensive line who can occupy space and open up plays for the linebackers.
By beating playoff teams like Kansas City, Philadelphia, Denver, and Cincinnati on the road, the Chargers should be expected to be a force in the AFC. They have shown they are capable of beating anyone anytime. But due to the emergence of some AFC team in the offseason, it will be hard for the team to return to the playoffs.
Best record they can hope for- 9-7