The San Diego Chargers finished their 2011 NFL season with an 8-8 record. Their offense ranked sixth in the league while their defense was average at 16th. They lost Vincent Jackson in free agency to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and signed former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem to a four year deal. Jackson missed 11 games in 2010 and his primary replacement was Legedu Naanee. Naanee was on pace for 37 receptions, 594 yards and two touchdowns had he played in all 16 games. Meachem’s worst season in terms of receptions and receiving yards when he got significant playing time came in 2011 when he caught 40 passes for 620 yards, but had six touchdowns to go along with those totals.
San Diego struggled to get pressure on quarterbacks last season as they were tied for 23rd in the NFL with 32 sacks. Their pass defense was ranked 13th, but they faced the third fewest pass attempts and only five teams allowed a higher quarterback rating. The run defense was ranked 20th, so it needed a drastic improvement. San Diego added Melvin Ingram in round one of the draft to get pressure on quarterbacks, Shaun Phillips could return to form and Antwan Barnes was tied for 11th in sacks during the 2011 season. Veteran outside linebacker Jarret Johnson and veteran strong safety Atari Bigby should help the run defense improve.
San Diego is ranked 19th in the Rant Sports NFL Power Rankings. San Diego has eight games in 2012 against teams that made the playoffs or had a winning record in 2011. This brutal schedule along with the loss of Jackson is why I expect the Chargers to finish 2012 at 8-8 or 9-7.