State of the San Diego Chargers

San Diego Head Coach Mike McCoy has figured out a way to maximize both sides of the football. Each team has their strengths, but after Monday Night Football you might be searching for the weaknesses. The Chargers fell from grace and it’s true, they have been surpassed in the past couple of seasons, by the rival Broncos and Chiefs. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have playoff hopes as a wildcard team, and they are doing everything they can to make that happen.

A team that has delivered many heartbreaks, the AFC comparable team to America’s Cowboys. When they finally do come to play, they perform as you expected them to when picking them in predictions a few years ago as an elite team. The relationship between Coach McCoy and quarterback Philip Rivers has been successful after splitting a half dozen games. If Rivers continues to accept the checkdown when defenses take away downfield options, this could be a storied season for the Bolts.

Don’t get me wrong, they are far from being the best team in the division but it’s not like they’ve played the top two teams yet. The first game they play between Kansas City and Denver, is a month from now when the Broncos visit the paradise with an ancient stadium. In the meantime, they get a favorable matchup against the win-less Jaguars, head into the bye week getting extra time to prepare for the Redskins, who look like a one-hit wonder so far. They will spend some of their bye focusing on Denver as well, but McCoy won’t let these guys overlook anybody because simply, they can’t afford to.

The running back rotation works. Mixing up the high hopes of Ryan Matthews with the versatile Danny Woodhead, well they seem to compliment the offense quite nicely. The tandem on the outside will have isolation opportunities, and could grow into a top ten receiver duo. Vincent Brown still looks a step slower in his injury recovery, but he’s picked up his play and comfort as a possession receiver. Rookie Keenan Allen has flat out, caught fire, with a pair of triple-digit yard games in a row.  The rekindled connection from Rivers to tight end Antonio Gates has opened things up for everybody else in the offense. Kicker Nick Novak has drilled a baker’s dozen (13) field goals while only missing dos (equis).

The defense isn’t too much to write about beyond safety Eric Weddle. He’s all over the field even though defenses are going away from him, for the most part. As a defender you will always have moments that don’t go your way, the goal is to minimize the number of plays against you. Jarrett Johnson has been a rock coming off the edge, stuffing the run and they need that guy on the field. Corey Liuget is making some noise along the defensive line, and cornerback Derek Cox looks better suited playing man-to-man with his length and size.

They won’t shut anyone down necessarily, and this is where Coach McCoy’s gameplan derives from. First and foremost, control the ball on offense by getting first downs. Moving the chains has a wear-and-tear affect on the defense throughout four quarters of football. What goes hand-in-hand with that, something that every team prioritizes, taking care of the ball and not turning it over. In victories, the Chargers have controlled possession for the majority of those games, limiting and even without committing turnovers. This method keeps the offense in rhythm, the defense fresh, and when they don’t put points on the board they don’t give opponents field position. Watching the gameplan this season has really benefited the offensive line that has been hit with the injury bug, by putting them in winnable situations. For your information, first-round pick D.J. Fluker has flashed more positives than negatives, and is slowly but surely coming along to be reliable. There are plenty of challenges ahead with any player, especially rookies, so that’s that for now.

But yes, they do have the correct recipe to beat the high-scoring Broncos. They just have to execute by keeping future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning on the sidelines, for as long as they possibly can. It’s a good strategy to win games, but the lack of consistency has them in the middle of the pack where they will probably be all season in the hunt for a wildcard spot. Writers and fans can look ahead, they need to keep their attention on Jacksonville this Sunday, nobody wants to be that team to give them their first win. They haven’t come close yet, but they do have the lovable Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield, along with emerging receiver, Justin Blackmon (key contributor to my fantasy team by the way).