There’s no doubt that the San Diego Chargers have established their team identity as an offensive squad this season. Due to injury in the front seven and lackluster performance in the secondary the defense has become a relative afterthought when it comes to the Bolts. These players carrying the offense aren’t exactly household names around the world of the NFL at the moment, but something tells me that’s about to change rather quickly.
Obviously the place to begin has to be with rookie sensation in wide receiver Keenan Allen. Many (myself included) felt Allen was a first round talent this past April when the NFL Draft rolled around, but due to injury and concern over speed he dropped all the way to the third round. That certainly didn’t deter San Diego general manager Tom Telesco who scooped up the steal of the draft at that point.
Allen has been marvelous this season in developing a rapport with Philip Rivers and really coming on strong down the stretch. His 12 catches for 124 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs were extremely important to the offense keeping drives alive on Sunday. There’s no denying his ability to come through in the clutch, and it goes without saying that Allen will be a vital part of the Chargers’ push for the playoffs in December. He is looking like the team’s No. 1 receiver by the time the 2014 season rolls around.
It’s hard to deny what Danny Woodhead continues to do for the offense as well with his versatility aiding the team in any way possible. His six carries for 25 yards and a score were bested only by his four catches for 45 yards and another trip to the end zone on Sunday in Kansas City. Woodhead’s seven total touchdowns are tied for tops on the team with Eddie Royal, but his importance to the offense is second to none. This signing is proving to be exactly what Rivers needed to get back on track under center this season.
The final weapon showing serious development of late is tight end Ladarius Green. In his second season out of Louisiana-Lafayette, Green has been coming on gangbusters the last two games with five catches for 80 yards in Week 11 and five more grabs for 81 yards and a score against the Chiefs. He is slowly but surely closing in on Antonio Gates’ starting job as he has out-gained the veteran tight end in the past two weeks. His potential is through the roof in a similar manner to a young Gates when he first burst onto the scene in San Diego, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him make a serious impact in the Bolts’ push for a postseason berth.
These guys are slowly getting noticed around the league, and that trend should certainly continue as the weather gets colder and the stakes get higher. The Chargers have shown a real ability to compete in every game this season with only one game being decided by double-digits all season (10-point loss to Oakland Raiders in Week 5). Expect these Bolts to battle in nail-biters down the stretch as well, but don’t be surprised if they come out on the winning side of the scoreboard thanks to these unsung stars listed above.