It seems like it was just yesterday that the San Diego Chargers were once on the brink of being one of the top teams in the NFL and favorites to make it to the Super Bowl. However, lately the Chargers have been on the brink of disappointment, and lost their electricity that once made them an extraordinary team.
In 2012, the Chargers were 7-9 in the weak AFC West, excluding the Denver Broncos. Ever since LaDainian Tomlinson retired, the Chargers have not been the same team, and have lost their identity completely.
Last year, the Chargers’ offense was just miserable, as they were ranked 24th in passing yards, with 205.9 yards per game and 27th in rushing with 91.3 yards per game. After being ranked one of the top offenses in the NFL just a few years ago, the team that was once known for its lighting passing attack and thunderous running game has vanished into thin air, literally.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has more turnovers (55) than touchdowns (53) in the past two seasons. Rivers, who has all the skills and talent of being an elite passer in the NFL, has regressed immensely in terms of his leadership.
Talent has not been a problem for the Chargers, as they still possess one of the best athletic tight ends in Antonio Gates, and have Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal at their disposal. At one point, Rivers also had Vincent Jackson, who is one of the better receivers in the league. Royal and Floyd might not be household names, but this is still a better receiving unit than teams like the Cleveland Browns or Carolina Panthers have.
Defensively, the Chargers have lost many key players, but again, talent is not short on this side of the ball either. They were ranked 18th in passing defense and 6th in rushing defense. While their secondary needs work, overall, the Chargers possess a decent defense, and should at least be competitive enough against most teams. Their rushing defense was excellent last season, and should continue in 2013.
Overall, the Chargers still have an athletic team on both sides of the ball, but their mental is just not there. Too many times do they kill their own drives with costly penalties and untimely turnovers. The Chargers are their own worst enemy, and I don’t expect that to change in 2013.
New coach Mike McCoy has his work cut out for him, as he needs to help his players become both disciplined and mature in 2013.
Although the Chargers were 4-2 within their own division, with both losses coming against eventual AFC West champions the Broncos. In 2013, don’t expect the Chargers to have an easy time with either the Kansas City Chiefs or the Oakland Raiders, as both teams have improved, especially the Chiefs.
While their schedule is not relatively difficult, as we all know, the Chargers have a way of complicating even the simplest things. The hardest games the Chargers will face outside of their division will be against the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals. The Washington Redskins could also pose a problem if Robert Griffin III is healthy.
I predict the Chargers will end their regular season with the same record they ended their 2012 campaign: 7-9. The Chargers will miss the playoffs, and once again be an underachieving team, something that has defined them for the past couple of years now.
Talent and skill were never a shortage for the Chargers; instead, it has been poor leadership, from the front office to head coaches to captains on the team, mixed with a weak mentality that will spell doom for a franchise that has become bolt-less.
There is a saying that states, “You are only as great as your leader is.” The Chargers have become great examples of this quote, and have proven that no matter how talented and skilled a team is, without a great leader, it doesn’t matter in the end.