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NFL San Diego Chargers

San Diego Chargers need an improved offense in 2013

San Diego Chargers

Jake Roth-USA Today Sports

The San Diego Chargers finished their 2012 season with a 7-9 record and missed the playoffs for the third season in a row mostly due to terrible production from their offense. San Diego ranked 20th in points per game, 30th in yards per play, 30th in yards per reception, 31st in yards per rushing attempt and were tied for last with the Oakland Raiders in rushing touchdowns.

A major problem for San Diego’s offense was losing Vincent Jackson to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jackson led the NFL in yards per reception last year while ranking fifth with 1,384 receiving yards.

Former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Robert Meachem was brought in to be Jackson’s replacement, but he finished the season with 14 receptions, 207 receiving yards and two TD receptions in 15 games.

Another issue the team faced was a decline in production from Ryan Mathews, who ranked 10th in the league with 1,091 rushing yards in 2011, but averaged career lows with 3.8 yards per attempt and had one rushing touchdown to go along with 707 rushing yards. Mathews ranked 12th in the NFL with an average of 4.9 yards per attempt in 2011, but his 3.8 yards per attempt ranked 32nd in the league last season.

San Diego’s offensive line allowed 49 sacks last season, which ranked fourth in the NFL, so it is difficult for an offense to get things going with a terrible offensive line. Philip Rivers and Danario Alexander were two bright spots, as Rivers ranked ninth in TD passes and 11th in QB rating while Alexander ranked third in yards per reception and 22nd in yards per game.

San Diego’s defense ranked fifth in fewest yards per rushing attempt allowed, while they ranked 12th in this category against the pass, so an average offense could have led to a playoff berth last season.

I expect San Diego’s front office to choose an offensive lineman in round one of April’s draft. A healthy Mathews and a healthy Meachem could go a long way for the Chargers to improve on offense this season.