The San Diego Chargers finished their 2011 season with an 8-8 record after starting the year at 4-1. Philip Rivers finished his 2011 season with 27 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. Rivers threw 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during a six game losing streak last year in which San Diego fell to a 4-7 record. Rivers got back on track in the last six games as he had 12 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Ronnie Brown signed with the team and has experience as a successful starting running back in case Ryan Mathews suffers an injury. Brown was a Pro Bowler in 2008 and averaged six rushing touchdowns per season from 2005-2010 while missing 19 games. Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd led San Diego in receiving yards during the 2009 season and they combined to miss 22 games in 2010. Rivers led the NFL in passing yards that season while throwing 30 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Legedu Naanee was Jackson’s primary replacement for 10 of the 11 games he missed. Naanee was on pace for 37 receptions, 594 yards and two touchdowns in a full season. Robert Meachem will be Jackson’s replacement in 2012, and his worst season in terms of receptions and receiving yards when he got significant playing time came last year when he caught 40 passes for 620 yards, but he also had six touchdowns.
The Chicago Bears had success without Rex Grossman in 2005 as rookie quarterback Kyle Orton had a 10-5 record, but Chicago had the NFL’s second ranked defense. Orton struggled throwing nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Tom Brady was the NFL’s MVP in 2007. Brady was injured in the first game of 2008, Matt Cassel stepped in and the New England Patriots went 10-5 without Brady. Cassel played great throwing 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, New England had the NFL’s 10th ranked defense, Wes Welker was ninth in receiving yards among all players and Randy Moss was one touchdown away from being tied for the NFL lead in TD receptions.
Charlie Whitehurst is San Diego’s number two QB and he has a 1-3 career record with three touchdowns and four interceptions while only completing 54 percent of his passes. Whitehurst was not good enough to start over Tarvaris Jackson in 2011 who had a 10-10 record with 24 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in his career before last season. Rivers has not missed a game in six seasons as a starter. San Diego needs this to continue or the defense will have to play great in order to make the playoffs if he goes down with an injury.