2015 NFL Season Preview- San Diego Chargers
San Diego's level of disappointment for not making the playoffs was clear.
The Chargers began the season 5-1, winning five straight after losing their season opener. It was followed by a three game losing streak and they finished 4-4 in the second half. They won just two of their final five games, coming back from double digit fourth quarter deficits twice to remain in playoff contention. They lost the final game of the season against backup quarterback Chase Daniel and Kansas City when a win would have secured a playoff berth. In three of their last four games, and five of their last eight, the Chargers did not score more than one touchdown. The team was 3-6 against teams with winning records.
Quarterback Phillip Rivers was great early in the year and was in consideration for the league MVP after setting an NFL record with five straight games with a 120+ passer rating. However he was banged up as the year went on and kept losing key skill players. Tight end Antonio Gates had another elite season in his Hall of Fame worthy career. Running backs Ryan Matthews and Danny Woodhead were injured for much of the year, changing the dynamic of the offense. Wide receiver Keenan Allen started the season slow and wasn't able to match the success of his rookie year. The offensive line was a mess as the team started five different centers on the season.
Defensive end Corey Liuget has blossomed into the anchor o the San Diego line. Outside linebacker Melvin Ingram showed flashes of being a game changer, but he needs to be more consistent. Inside linebacker Manti Te'o continues to grow as a reliable playermaker after coming on strong in the second half of the year. Cornerback Brandon Flowers played well and helped the pass defense rank fourth in the league.
Safety Eric Weddle and special teamer Darrell Stuckey were the team's only pro bowlers. Weddle remains the brains of the defense and flies to everywhere on the field.
The rookie class was a disappointment for the most part but does offer some promise. Cornerback Justin Verrett played well before injuring his shoulder. Undrafted running back Brandon Oliver was the team's most productive running back but isn't the full package when it comes to skill.
Chargers 2014 Rankings
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 10th
NFL Rank- 30th
NFL Rank- 4th
NFL Rank- 26th
NFL Rank- 18th
NFL Rank- 9th
After finishing the year 9-7 and being one game short of a wildcard playoff spot, the one priority head coach Mike McCoy should have this offseason is keeping the team healthy. San Diego had 15 players end up on injured reserve including several key starters.
On July 2, it was announced that tight end Antonio Gates would be suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's rules on performance enhancing drugs.
Notable Additions- WR Stevie Johnson, WR Austin Pettis, WR/KR Jacoby Jones, CB Patrick Robinson
Notable Departures- RB Ryan Matthews, WR Eddie Royal, G Jeromey Clary, C Nick Hardwick, OLB Dwight Freeney
Chargers 2014 Highlights
2015 NFL Draft
Going into the draft, San Diego held the 17th overall pick with many positions needed to be addressed. Most notably at running back, offensive linemen, and cornerback.
The running game was dismal with Ryan Matthews always hurt. Brandon Oliver is shifty, but he isn't an every down running back. The Chargers need a three down back who can carry the load of an offense.
Phillip Rivers was sacked seven times in the season finale against Kansas City. Nick Hardwick and Jeromey Clary are now retired so this offensive line needs an overhaul.
Brandon Flowers was able to be resigned and Justin Verrett will be back healthy from his torn labrum but every other corner behind them on the depth chart is mediocre. This position needs better depth.
On draft day, San Diego traded up two spots with San Francisco to draft Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon with the 15th overall pick. Gordon was the top running back prospect in the draft and had the best inside runner in the draft. He was mainly criticized for his less than ideal athleticism and unproven ability as a pass catcher.
The Chargers also notably drafted Miami middle linebacker Denzel Perryman in the second round. Perryman had the best read and react skills of any middle linebacker in the draft and was an explosive tackler. The big issue with him is he's 5'11" and will be overmatched at the line of scrimmage.
Melvin Gordon Highlights
What to Expect
This team should be fine as long as they can stay healthy.
Most of Phillip Rivers 19 interceptions were due to the downgrade of talent around him. If his weapons can stay healthy, his play will be at an MVP type level. Melvin Gordon is capable of carrying the work load of the offense and can keep pressure off Phillip Rivers. With Antonio Gates out for the first four games, Stevie Johnson, Keenan Allen, and Malcolm Floyd will have to step up and be playmakers.
The defense should remain on track and the addition of Denzel Perryman to the linebacker corps give the team two complementing guys in the middle and will help in the teams run defense.
Given the circumstances of last season, San Diego should return to their 2013 form as a wildcard team.
Best record they can hope for: 9-7