For a team that hasn’t made the postseason for three consecutive years, it’s normally easier to pick out the number of strengths for that squad than their areas of weakness. The San Diego Chargers are far from normal, however, and their struggles have been largely perceived to be underachieving in terms of their overall roster talent. Of all the areas where this team had difficulties in 2012, which one is the most concerning heading into 2013?
It would be easy to say the offensive line as the play of so many depends on their success, but it appears that the guys in the trenches may actually be significantly stronger in the upcoming year. Adding Max Starks and King Dunlap at left tackle provides an upgrade and depth should the unforeseen happen while signing Chad Rinehart at guard fits perfectly into the zone-blocking scheme. The selection of D.J. Fluker in the 2013 NFL Draft strengthens right tackle while allowing Jeromey Clary to move inside to guard where his deficiencies will be better masked.
No, the line isn’t the weakest link anymore. And neither is running back with Ryan Mathews getting some competition in Danny Woodhead to liven up the backfield. Wide receiver is one of the deepest areas on the roster, the defensive line is young and solid, and the linebackers are going to be solid even though some pieces were shuffled around.
Philip Rivers can’t be considered the weakest area for San Diego heading into camp, so the secondary holds the title as the biggest concern. Obviously Eric Weddle is anything but a problem given his solid play recently, but he is only one-quarter of the unit. New starters at the other three spots will bring some uncertainty to the picture as training camp begins on July 24. Marcus Gilchrist will be making the move from corner to safety while Derek Cox and Shareece Wright are unproven starters on the edge.
The Chargers finished 18th in passing yards allowed in 2012, but their 28 passing touchdowns allowed was only better than seven other NFL teams. That number needs to improve in the upcoming season, and maybe the change in personnel will allow them to do just that.
Even though the secondary is certainly worthy of concern, it’s hard to specifically call it an area of weakness. Defensive coordinator John Pagano will need to dial up the right blitzes to take some pressure off of a questionable secondary early in games and allow them to settle in as a unit. Trusting the back third of the Bolts defense might be difficult to request just yet, but give them a chance to prove themselves. They could turn out to be an upgrade over a year ago once the season is in the books.