By DJ Siddiqi @DJSiddiqi on June 29, 2014
The San Diego Chargers are looking to capitalize off of a surprising 9-7 season that saw them advance to the Divisional Playoffs. Spearheaded by the leadership of first-year head coach Mike McCoy and resurgent play by quarterback Philip Rivers, the Chargers were able to clinch a postseason birth for the first time in four years. However, the Chargers have a few red flags entering 2014. Here are the Chargers' five biggest red flags entering 2014.
The San Diego Chargers ranked 29th in defending the pass in 2013. The Chargers know that if they hope to advance further in the postseason in 2014, they'll have to be able to slow down quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. That's the reason why they added TCU CB Jason Verrett in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft and signed former Pro Bowl CB Brandon Flowers last week.
While the Chargers did rank fourth in the NFL in passing due to the excellent play of quarterback Philip Rivers and wide receiver Keenan Allen, the Chargers did not have a legit No. 2 option at receiver opposite of Allen. Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown and seventh-round draft pick Tevin Reese will all compete for the No. 2 spot to start opposite of Allen.
The team's leader in sacks in 2013 was Corey Liuget, who had just 5.5 sacks. The Chargers had just 35 sacks, which ranked them 24th in the NFL. The franchise spent a second-round draft pick on Georgia Tech standout Jeremiah Attaochu. If the Chargers are to slow down quarterbacks such as Manning and Brady in the postseason, Attaochu will have to emerge as a dominant pass-rushing threat.
Philip Rivers was one of the NFL's best stories of 2013 as he was named Comeback Player of the Year. Rivers ranked in the top five of the NFL in every major passing category, establishing or tying career-bests in completions, passer rating, completion percentage and interceptions. The Chargers will need Rivers to be every bit as good in 2014 if they hope to return to the playoffs for a second-straight season.
The biggest roadblock standing in the way of the Chargers returning to the postseason is the competition within their own division -- the AFC West. The AFC West may be the toughest division in all of football, as it is the only division that had three teams make the postseason in 2013. Don't bet on that happening again in 2014.
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