San Diego Chargers: Return Game Requires Adjustment

By Erwin Mendoza
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Chargers’ return game is terrible. The Chargers were leaving points off the board because of their inability to return kicks. All of their 2013 losses were within a touchdown score, so it would have helped to shorten the field for Philip Rivers to attack opponents’ defense.

When it comes to kickoff returns, the Chargers only returned 32 kicks last year compared to the league leading 70 kicks returned by the Chicago Bears. Leading the Chargers in their kick returns was Danny Woodhead averaging 21.8 yards on 12 attempts.

The Chargers don’t even necessarily need touchdowns from the kickoff unit because the the league lead of two kickoff touchdowns was a tie between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Minnesota Vikings. The Chargers need to improve on their 707 kickoff return yards because the Chargers are often starting at or around the 20-yard line.

The punt returning didn’t fare much better.

Last year Eddie Royal started punt returning duties until Mike McCoy and staff deemed Keenan Allen as Royal’s replacement. Allen’s special team numbers weren’t as impressive as his receiving stats. He had 15 punt returns for 125 yards with the longest return being 28 yards.

Even with their Rookie of the Year, the Chargers were 31st in the league in punt return yardage. Their 166 punt yards topped only the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 142 yards. The league leader in punt return yardage were the Chiefs with 695 yards and they too, lead the league in punt return touchdowns (2).

Woodhead isn’t the answer for the Chargers. Face it, the Chargers haven’t figured out their return game since Darren Sproles left. Remember, they tried to remedy their return game by adding Bryan Walters in 2011. During the offseason, their best option is to add a defensive back who can defend and returns kicks or  a running back to replace Ronnie Brown and also take kicks back.

Erwin Mendoza is a San Diego Chargers writer for Follow him on Twitter @erwinsports, or add him to your network on Google.

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