There are many reasons to be excited about the 2014 edition of the San Diego Chargers. The first, and most obvious, is that they should build upon the successes of the 2013 campaign.
Going into Tom Telesco’s and Mike McCoy’s second year at the helm, the team has improved in critical areas. Somehow fitting Brandon Flowers within the tight cap space might be the steal of the century! Bolts drafted well again this year, picking up Jason Verrett, Jerry Attaochu and Chris Watt. The team is deeper and stronger going into camp than it was last year.
Here’s what I’ll be looking for in 2014:
Ryan Mathews. He silenced a lot of critics with his play and his toughness last year. He ran harder and with more purpose than in previous years. Most importantly, he held on to the football and he kept playing once he got out of Mike McCoy’s dog house early in the season.
Malcom Floyd. He sustained that frightening neck injury last year in Philly, but is saying he’s ready to play and he’s been cleared by the doctors. When healthy, he’s a solid #2 WR. A big body, physical guy who can also stretch the field. If he can stay healthy, look for trouble in coverage with he and Keenan Allen.
Speaking of Keenan Allen. Came out of nowhere last year. Our third round draft pick was slated to be brought along slowly until the injury bug bit. Can he duplicate and build on his rookie success? Rest assured he’ll get more secondary attention this year in addition to getting more attention from Philip Rivers.
Ladarius Green. I expect to see him on the field more as the heir-apparent to Antonio Gates. Gatsey isn’t what he used to be, and his skills have diminished with age. I think Green will play more and begin to take his place as Antonio’s future replacement.
Cornerback position. I was excited about Steve Williams last year until he tore his pectoral muscle early on. Telesco was high on him as well. With a CB corps of Flowers, Williams, Verrett, Shareece Wright and Richard Marshall, we’re definitely in better shape than we were last year.
Offensive line. Who’d have thunk? King Dunlap may have been the most underrated player of 2013. An area everyone was concerned about turned out to be one of the more stable units on the 2013 squad. Look for draft pick Chris Watt to see time at guard and at center, spelling Nick Hardwick as his playing days are winding down.
There’s a lot to be excited about this coming year. Telesco made a lot of upgrades considering the salary cap restraints he had to work with. Donald Brown is an upgrade over Ronnie Brown. Flowers is, without question, an upgrade over Derek Cox. Health is always the question mark. Can M80 stay healthy? Dwight Freeney? Can Philip Rivers build on his successes with Mike McCoy’s offense? Can Ryan Mathews be the stud RB he showed last year he can be? Will Mantei Te’o improve over a pedestrian rookie campaign where he learned on the job after missing training camp with foot issues?
I believe the Chargers are poised to make another run at the post season, and maybe deeper into the post season than last year. Time will tell.