Culture really is contagious, and for the San Diego Chargers that contagion has been anything but positive in recent years. After years of dwelling among the league’s worst, the Bolts rose from the ashes for a stretch from 2004 to 2009 to win the AFC West five out of those six seasons. As of late, however, the team has been mired in mediocrity.
Three straight years of missing the postseason with a combined 24-24 record during that time period, the club has found itself stuck in neutral. And that perpetuation of mediocre play was largely due to the stagnant coaching staff and front office where things saw a steady decline with the team’s personnel struggling to thrive as well.
The Chargers are ready to leave the past behind them in 2013 with new head coach Mike McCoy ready to lead the team from the doldrums. Despite their middling record over the past three seasons, the Chargers still have some of the key pieces from those teams that saw that stretch of divisional dominance in the mid 2000s.
One of those cornerstones is safety Eric Weddle who expressed significant frustration from the team’s 2012 campaign. On October 15 of last season, San Diego held a 24-0 halftime advantage over the Denver Broncos and were completely in control of the game. They allowed the Broncos to score 35 unanswered points in the second half en route to a monumental comeback victory. Weddle told Fox Sports West’s Joe McDonnell:
“I could barely talk after that game. I just couldn’t figure out how we lost. Everything went great in the first half; exactly the opposite for us in the second half. We can’t ever let that happen again.”
That leadership is a huge benefit to the team as it attempts to pick itself up by the bootstraps in the upcoming year and turn things in the right direction. Quarterback Philip Rivers provides that presence on the other side of the football as he is entering his tenth year in the league and eighth as the full-time starter under center. The two are the crux of the readjustment of the attitude around Chargers Park for McCoy and the new regime.
When speaking of Weddle, McCoy said:
“He’s the type of player who takes it on himself to make everyone around him better. Even early on I could tell he was going to be one of the most competitive players I’ve ever been around. And along with Philip and a few others, he’s going to be a key for us in getting to the Super Bowl and winning it. That’s the only goal we’re looking at.”
That type of attitude is definitely infectious in a positive manner for the Chargers organization. This team once had high expectations with Super Bowl goals and perennial playoff appearances, and its goal needs to be to return to that stat of mind. Changing the culture is the first step of the reboot for this team in the upcoming year, and the veterans on this team are going to play a key role in restoring that winning attitude in the locker room.