Hot on the heels of the monumental Thursday morning announcement of the team formerly known as the San Diego Chargers moving up the I-5 to Los Angeles, a new head coach was announced to spearhead the new Los Angeles Chargers.
On Friday, the now Los Angeles Chargers officially announced former Buffalo Bills’ interim head coach Anthony Lynn as their successor to Mike McCoy. Lynn was a running back in the NFL for six seasons from 1993-1999. He was initially signed as an undrafted free agent running back by the Denver Broncos. He played a season in San Francisco (1995-’96) before finishing his career in Denver from 1997 to 1999. Lynn has two Super Bowl rings as part of the John Elway-led team that won back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998.
Since retiring from playing the game in 2000, Lynn has worked his way up the coaching ranks. After two seasons in Denver as a special teams coach, he was brought in as a running backs coach for Jacksonville, Dallas, Cleveland and New York Jets before landing in Buffalo in 2015. Lynn served as running backs coach until week three of the 2016 season. Bills OC Greg Roman was fired after week two and Lynn was promoted to offensive coordinator. He was the week 17 interim head coach after Rex Ryan was fired in week 16.
Lynn is a low-profile, safe choice for the Chargers. Not much will be expected of him or the team given their recent history. The Chargers have finished in the cellar the last two seasons, only winning a combined nine games. They made the playoffs once in the four years of the Mike McCoy era.
Despite the fact he has no head coaching experience at any level of football, he is expected to keep Ken Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator and various media outlets are reporting he wants to hire former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley to replace John Pagano as defensive coordinator. If the Bradley hire happens, that places two experienced head coaches to accelerate his learning curve.
Lynn becomes the first minority head coach in the history of the Chargers franchise. He is widely respected around the league as a running game mastermind. From 2009-13 his Jets led the league in rushing. Each season in Buffalo, the Bills have led the NFL in rushing. If he can do that with a past his prime veteran like LeSean McCoy, imagine what he will be able to do with a young, budding superstar like Melvin Gordon.
Lynn inherits a roster with many budding stars yet to hit their prime and if they can stay healthy, could make the playoffs as soon as next season. So far, the Chargers have led the league in players sent to injured reserve over the past few seasons. Staying healthy and offensive line stability has been their biggest downfall.
All things considered, there is no place to go but up for Lynn and the Chargers. The stadium drama is over and players now know in which city their future lies. That has to be good for something. Now everyone can focus on getting healthy and just playing football, which may be exactly what this team needs.
What do you think? Good signing? Bad signing? Too soon to care? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
The Greg One
Follow me on Twitter @LordOfTheGregs
There are less than three days remaining until the offseason day we’ve all been waiting for aside from the start of free agency. The NFL Draft will commence with the Tampa Bay on the clock and a whirlwind of speculation surrounding our beloved San Diego Chargers. I will be there in person to see the events unfold and write of it in the days thereafter. After ingesting all the rumors and speculation of the last couple months, I have a feel for the way things go and I am brave (or stupid) enough to put them in print. Without further adieu. here are my top ten fearless predictions.
1. Philip Rivers will NOT be traded. Chargers GM Tom Telesco knows how valuable a commodity he has in Rivers and he’s simply not for sale. Not for Mariota. Not for Winston. Not for a handful of magic beans. No trade. No way. No how.
2. Adrian Peterson WILL be traded. To my chagrin, I have come to the realization that he will not be traded to the Chargers as dearly as I want that to happen. The Vikings know there is no chance in hell Peterson will ever suit up in the Purple and Gold ever again so on draft day he will be gone to the highest bidder. I will stand by my projection that the best they will get is a third round pick and maybe a late round throw in but their first round asking price will not happen.
3. Marcus Mariota will be the second pick in the draft but he will not play for Tennessee, who own the second pick. Not coincidentally, it leads to my next prediction…
4. Marcus Mariota and Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly will be reunited in Philadelphia. All the talk of a Mariota-for-Rivers deal has to make the Eagles happy because they have been largely forgotten in the equation. This will turn out exactly the way we expected it to at the end of the National Championship game. Chip Kelly wants Mariota to run his offense the same way he did at Oregon. Kelly knows there is no one better to run his offense than Mariota. Kelly will get Mariota.
5. To get Mariota, Kelly will trade off his offseason acquisitions. We all thought Kelly traded off his best pieces if he wanted to trade up to get Mariota. The Eagles sent former rushing champion LeSean McCoy packing. They traded away a strong quarterback in Nick Foles. What they did was overload their skill positions in order to make a deal the Titans would want. Let’s examine the facts. They now have DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles as running backs. They now have Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and Tim freaking Tebow in their five quarterback stable. Kelly is going to give the Titans the quarterback and running back of their choice AND their first rounder to get the Titans spot and claim Mariota. Book it.
6. Eight household name players will change addresses during the draft. Expect at least five veterans to get traded on day one and more on day two as Peterson comes into play. Chip Kelly will be responsible for three of those names alone. More will come.
7. The Chargers first round pick will be a running back. Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon will be the man depending on who’s available. Florida State center Cameron Erving will be the selection (as I indicated in my recent mock draft) if both are gone. Offense will be the order of the day in the first round. Telesco has not addressed the running back issue at all in the offseason and contrary to what has been said, don’t expect him to stand pat with Donald Brown, Branden Oliver and Danny Woodhead. A top two running back will be drafted.
8. Only two quarterbacks will be drafted in the first round but three will be traded. Among those names, expect Robert Griffin III to be one of them.
9. The bidding war for Adrian Peterson between the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys will be won by….New England. The Patriots will give the Vikings their first, second and fifth round picks to secure Peterson as Belichick shows why he is still the smartest person in the room. Hear that sound? It’s Bill Belichick dropping the mic.
10. Telesco will go against formula and trade down on day two to recover the seventh round pick he dealt last year. He’s saving one other bombshell for day two that lands the Chargers the services of.. disgruntled Bears feature running back Matt Forte. You heard it here first. A big name veteran will end up with the Chargers by the end of the draft. Telesco has a plan and its going to jolt Bolt Nation.
There you have it. My expectations for the draft. There’s always a few surprises, a few head scratchers but it will always be entertaining. Look for me on Thursday wearing my powder blue lightning bolted jersey of the quarterback who won’t be traded.
The Greg One
Potentially, the biggest name on the free agent market is Adrian Peterson. Sure, Ndamukong Suh will be a close second but with the added morality issue attached to his pending availability, Peterson is the hot button name of the offseason.
To that point, myself and Boltblitz co-editor Mike Pisciotta differ on Peterson becoming a Charger. I am all for it, he is not. Time to take the matter to you, our loyal readers, to see who has the better argument for or against AP in lightning bolts next season. Enjoy.
Greg: To start, I want Adrian Peterson in lightning bolts next season. Peterson, even after a year off, is still the gold standard for running backs in the NFL. Who’s better? DeMarco Murray? Murray has had one good year out of five. Eddie Lacy is still a pup. LeSean McCoy was traded by the Eagles mere days ago. Teams just don’t trade away franchise running backs without damn good reason, and we still don’t know what the Eagles’ reason is. Peterson is the best running back in the game and he’s going to be available to the highest bidder. The Chargers are the perfect fit. So Mike, what reason could you possibly have for NOT wanting AD (All Day) Peterson in powder blue?
Mike: First off, Greg, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Peterson is still a Viking. He hasn’t been released, nor is he officially on the trading block. Yes, the Chargers are rumored to be a potential trade partner. To your point, teams don’t trade away franchise running backs without damn good reason, so what’s the reason for trading Peterson? Dean Spanos doesn’t want or need the public relations firestorm that will surely surround a trade for Peterson. Not while in the middle of a push for a new stadium and trying to gain public support.
Greg: Peterson is on the trade block because he wants out! He feels disrespected by the organization for the way they strong-armed him into going onto the Commissioner’s exempt list last season, he feels he didn’t get the show of support he expected from the front office and now his agent’s shouting match with high-ranking team officials during the combine has become public. He might still be under contract, but the writing is on the wall. The Vikings are shopping Peterson without coming out and saying it. It’s funny you mention stadiums because Adrian Peterson in a Chargers uniform just might be what gets the Chargers a new stadium! People will come out in droves to see Peterson and Rivers on the field at the same time! Don’t forget he’s already made his wishlist of teams public and the Chargers are one of them.
Mike: He feels disrespected. Cry me a river! Just because he wants out of Minneapolis. Just because some talking head named San Diego as a possible landing spot. Just because star-struck fans think he’d be a fit in San Diego doesn’t make him a candidate to play in America’s Finest City. These same fans wanted Michael Sam in powder blue! Fact is, anyone with a recognizable name, anyone with an endorsement contract or a headline is desired by the casual fan. People will also come out in droves against any form of public support for the Chargers’ stadium effort for bringing on a man convicted in the court of public opinion for child abuse. Nobody cares that he pleaded no contest. Nobody cares he wasn’t humiliated in front of a jury of his peers and convicted. Do you honestly believe that public sentiment won’t swing further away from the Chargers over this? The timing is simply awful.
Greg: You’re making the mistake of lumping him in with the multitudes of middle-of-the-road prospects available at this time every year. This is Adrian freaking Peterson, the one man you can put on the roster of any team and they automatically become a playoff capable team. Even Minnesota. You’re also overestimating the whole court of public opinion angle. I was wondering how long it would take you to get there. AP starts averaging 120 yards and two touchdowns and that morality issue will conveniently be pushed aside. San Diego is the best place for a player who wants to win and keep a low media profile. Winning is the best deodorant and that’s what will happen with Peterson in SD.
Mike: I’m making no mistake at all, Greg. The Chargers cannot afford to give up a king’s ransom for someone who sat out virtually the entire 2014 season. He is not a free agent. Minnesota is not stupid enough to release him and get nothing in return for him. That leaves trading Peterson. This would amount to a fool’s errand. Many insiders have said a trade for Peterson would resemble the 1989 Herschel Walker to the Vikings trade. Need I remind you of how these same Vikings got fleeced? In case you do, let’s recap from Wikipedia, shall we?
- Players/Draft Picks Received by the Minnesota Vikings
- RB Herschel Walker
- Dallas’s 3rd round pick – 1990 (54) (Mike Jones)
- San Diego’s 5th round pick – 1990 (116) (Reggie Thornton)
- Dallas’s 10th round pick – 1990 (249) (Pat Newman)
- Dallas’s 3rd round pick – 1991 (68) (Jake Reed)
- Players/Draft Picks Received by the Dallas Cowboys
- LB Jesse Solomon
- LB David Howard
- CB Issiac Holt
- RB Darrin Nelson (traded to San Diego after he refused to report to Dallas)
- DE Alex Stewart
- Minnesota’s 1st round pick in 1990 (21) (traded this pick along with pick (81) for pick (17) from Pittsburgh to draft Emmitt Smith)
- Minnesota’s 2nd round pick in 1990 (47) (Alexander Wright)
- Minnesota’s 6th round pick in 1990 (158) (traded to New Orleans, who drafted James Williams)
- Minnesota’s 1st round pick in 1991 (conditional) – (12) (Alvin Harper)
- Minnesota’s 2nd round pick in 1991 (conditional) – (38) (Dixon Edwards)
- Minnesota’s 2nd round pick in 1992 (conditional) – (37) (Darren Woodson)
- Minnesota’s 3rd round pick in 1992 (conditional) – (71) (traded to New England, who drafted Kevin Turner)
- Minnesota’s 1st round pick in 1993 (conditional) – (13) (traded to Philadelphia Eagles, and then to the Houston Oilers, who drafted Brad Hopkins
Truth is, Chargers have way too many holes to pull off a trade of this magnitude. It would be career suicide for Tom Telesco, not to discount the aforementioned public relations firestorm.
Greg: What you fail to realize, Mike, is Peterson has the all the leverage with the Vikings. Peterson will account for 15.4 million against the Vikings salary cap. The Vikings will obviously want to restructure his contract to make it more cap-friendly. They owe him 12.5 million if he suits up for them this season. With all the ill-will between the sides, what reason does he have to want to do anything to help the front office that has shunned him and looked to distance themselves as far away as possible from his off-the-field transgression? If Peterson flat-out refuses to redo his deal, the Vikings are hamstrung in free agency and their chances of fielding a contending team are greatly compromised. At that point, the Vikings would look to move AP.
After what you’ve seen the last two seasons, do you really think Telesco would get fleeced the way the Cowboys took the Vikings to school in 1990? C’mon, Man! We know Telesco is one of the most capable GM’s in the league and we’ve commended him (for the most part) for doing so much with so little money. In Telesco we trust, right? We know a deal coming from his office will be a good deal for the Chargers. Give the Vikes a few draft picks. Give them Mathews (please!!) You know why? With AP on the Chargers, SD’s picks are going to be in the high 20’s or (dare I say it) low 30’s anyway because the Chargers will be playing in the championships at the end of the playoffs! That’s what this type of move says, Super Bowl or bust!
Mike: Greg, what leverage? Trade me or I sit out another year? What kind of leverage is that? That’d be akin to the kid sitting in the corner holding his breath until he gets his way! I’d love to cite Saturday Night Live’s Dan Aykroyd right about now. I’ll give you this, you’re right about the or bust part. Trading for Peterson will equate to Los Angeles, make no mistake about it. But, enough of the politics that will surround this acquisition.
If Telesco even desires Peterson (and I say he’s making a mistake if he does), I say hold out, force the Vikings’ hand and make them release him so there’s no trade liability there. The Chargers need a NT, depth at linebacker, depth at WR on top of needing a running back. Telesco can’t afford to surrender draft picks that are needed to fill holes! What idiot would pay a king’s ransom for a player in a position the game has devalued? The draft class is running back rich, so they can get younger and faster at a fraction of the cost. I can’t believe you don’t recognize that. Additionally, they can’t trade your favorite Charger anyway, he’s not under contract come Tuesday.
Greg: The only thing dumber than not moving a disgruntled player is paying the man 12.5 million to stay home! That’s Raiders stupidity. I don’t think the Vikings would go that route. You are right that Telesco will be best suited to force their hand and wait for him to get cut. The GM would be a fool not to look at ways to acquire Peterson but he’s not a king’s ransom type of guy and we all know it. While they’re waiting for the shoe to drop in Minny, sign line help and draft skill positions for depth.
Contrary to what you think this is not a Los Angeles move, this is a stay in San Diego play. This is a last ditch effort to rouse enough interest to get the fan base to come out and vote for keeping the team in the city because there is a team worth watching within it. The buzz Peterson brings will move PSL’s and fill the Q to the rafters. Knowing Rivers finally has a reliable running game will renew faith in the team. The bolts will have a true home field advantage!! Make no mistake, Peterson makes the Chargers a Super Bowl favorite!
Aside from cost of acquisition and media relations, you haven’t given me any other reason he shouldn’t be on the team. We’ve already agreed there are ways to get him without costing the team a fortune in picks and players. Media? Meh. He’s not the first player to have issues in San Diego. Remember Vincent Jackson? How about the Mantei Te’o catfishing black eye? All those issues were non-issues in the media landscape outside of San Diego. The Chargers were in the market for Suh and they were also in on Steve Smith last year so it’s obvious they have no aversion to players with problems.
Mike: Greg, you’re naive if you think this won’t result in a public relations nightmare. You can’t compare VJax’s or Suh’s or Smith’s on-field or locker room issues to Peterson. He pleaded no contest to beating his kid! What’s worse, is if he had it to do all over again, he’d do the same thing! Right or wrong, he’s labelled. He’s damaged goods and Telesco is a fool if he brings him in.
Peterson is 30 years old in May. That’s 75 in running back years. He won’t be the effective player he was. He missed all of last year, save one game. This is a “what have you done for me lately” business and in 2013, he ran for as many yards with as many carries as Ryan Mathews. You want Mathews strung up, tarred and feathered and burnt at the stake! Where’s the upgrade?
Greg: You’ve heard of separation of church and state, right? In the sports world, there’s separation of on-the-field and off-the-field. Basically, the child abuse case will be an afterthought to the football loving public. I am in no way condoning what he did but he has to lie in that bed now. The Chargers are not culpable for his actions a year ago. Sure, there will be a media circus when mini-camps begin. It will carry into the preseason and maybe the first couple regular season games. After that, it’s all about the football and how he’s performing on the field. Most likely, there will be a big press conference to clear the air and allow everything that needs to be said to be said. After that, there will be no more answering of questions on the subject. We’ve seen this continually with superstar players through the years, most recently with Alex Rodriguez.
Speaking of on the field, if you had to put your money down on a 30-year old running back, who better than Adrian Peterson? Two years ago he returned from a horrific ACL injury and ran for over 2,000 yards! He came nine yards short of achieving the highest single season rushing mark in NFL history! Not counting last season, in his eight year career he has missed eight games. Eight! In only seven years he ran for 10,000 yards! Those are just rushing yards, we haven’t even discussed his ability to receive out of the backfield in which he also excels. The man runs with remarkable power and breakaway speed. He is the definition of a freak athlete and now he will be coming back after what was basically a year off. He is going to be angry and motivated and he might shatter the rushing record by a mile this time around. So yes, I will hitch my wagon to this 30-year old every day and twice on Sunday! And on that last Sunday I will dance hardest because he and Philip Rivers will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy!
Mike: Nice dream, Greg. But let’s face facts. His shelf life has expired. If he were a loaf of bread, he’d be in the go-back basket. He fell way off after that 2000 yard season. He fell all the way to Ryan Mathews’ 2013 numbers. He was just an average Joe in 2013, and Minnesota quarterback couldn’t hold a candle to Philip Rivers. Remember how San Diego’s beloved LaDanian Tomlinson’s numbers fell off? I love LT to death and hated to see him go, but numbers are numbers. Same goes for Peterson. He’s past his prime as a running back, and no way will he come even close to the star-crossed numbers you describe. In the Charger offensive scheme, with the talent they have in the receiving corps, the featured back will not thrive. I want Philip to hoist the Lombardi, but I don’t think Adrian Peterson will contribute to that success.
There may be no more answering of questions on the child abuse subject, but locals won’t forget that. Let’s not forget the non-fan who may be swayed to vote in favor of keeping the team in town. Signing Peterson could be the proverbial nail in the coffin.
Greg: I will end on this note. You’re right. Numbers don’t lie so here’s your numbers. That season you said he ‘fell off’ after the 2000 yard season, he was fifth in the league in rushing. He had 1266 yards and he missed two games! I’m happy if my starting running back ‘falls off’ to fifth place in the league! That season the Vikings were 28th in the league in passing and they were 14th in rushing on his ability alone. Peterson averages 1400 yards a year from scrimmage, is durable, he beats eight man fronts with ease and his presence is going to open up the entire passing game for Philip Rivers. Think of the threat of play action alone! Eight men in the box is going to leave Antonio Gates one-on-one in the middle of the field. Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd are going to stretch the field vertically and defenses won’t be so quick to blitz Rivers knowing they have to account for the dump off to Peterson in the passing game. Add in some grunts on the offensive line to open holes and that’s a recipe for an unstoppable offense.
Morality wise, who are we to judge? We’re not looking to hire him to be CEO of our company. We’re not voting him to be the next President of the United States. We’re not looking to him to be our role model. Peterson has had his day in court and it’s over. Life goes on. He’s not the first athlete in the NFL to exhibit questionable judgement off the field and he won’t be the last. A team is going to give him a chance. Why not us? That’s a question you’ve failed to answer in my opinion.
At the end of the day we want the best players to help our team WIN. That’s it. We want the Chargers to win a Super Bowl and Adrian Peterson can be a huge piece of the puzzle in the form of a solution to fixing the running game. Peterson. Woodhead. Oliver. Who can stop that three-headed monster? Nobody. That’s why we make the deal. Everything else will follow. The stadium. The Ring. The vindication.
Mike: It’s clear that Greg and I do not agree when it comes to Adrian Peterson in lighting bolts. He makes very compelling arguments in favor of pursuing and I feel my arguments are compelling against him coming to San Diego. What do you, loyal Boltblitz readers have to say?
When the roster was announced for the players that made the Pro Bowl, I immediately recognized the lack of surprise behind the selections of both Philip Rivers and Eric Weddle. But, another quick-twitch reaction was the fact that neither Darrell Stuckey, nor Ryan Mathews, made the squad. Upon further review, Stuckey was snubbed and Mathews was not.
Do not get me wrong, Ryan Mathews has had a breakout 2013 campaign. The tenacity and hard-running that has been on display is certainly something for the organization and its fans to be proud of without a doubt. But when you look at the names in front of the fourth year back, it comes as no surprise that he was not included.
Lets take a look at the running backs that did make the Pro Bowl. They are listed below.
- Jamaal Charles Not only did Charles earn a Pro Bowl nod, he should be in the running for the NFL’s MVP honor.
- Matt Forte He just so happens to be one of the most under-rated players in the NFL; even among Bear fans.
- Marshawn Lynch This guy gets his #BeastMode running style from hard work and Skittles. Awesome ball carrier.
- Adrian Peterson What more can be said about Peterson? I don’t feel the need to elaborate.
- LeSean McCoy This runner was already a duel threat but the Chip Kelly offense has enhanced his talent for sure.
- Frank Gore I am a big fan of Gore. He earned this spot, in my opinion. Despite Colin’s struggles, he’s been solid.
Looking at this list, it is obvious that the NFC running backs dominated in comparison to those that play in the AFC. Had the vote been similar to past years, Mathews would have been a lock to make another Pro Bowl.
In an effort to point out my appreciation for Mathews, I’d take him over a couple of the running backs that were selected for the NFL’s most meaningless game. Additionally, if he runs the way he has for the latter part of the 2013 season, he may just pass them all up in 2014.
Thanks a lot for reading.
It took almost a full season but the San Diego Chargers are finally starting to become the team we envisioned at the beginning of the season. The possibility of a team that would once again become playoff relevant looked good but not great as the Chargers took a 4-3 record into the bye week. The bye week came as the Chargers had won two straight games against Indianapolis and Jacksonville. After the bye, the Chargers dropped three straight games to fall to 4-6. With that losing streak, all hope for a return to prominence looked lost.
The Chargers went to Arrowhead to face the Chiefs. The Chiefs were 9-1 and coming off their first loss at Denver. The Chargers took it to the Chiefs and won a shootout 41-38. That win began a Chargers run that has seen them win four of their last five games. The Chargers now sit at 8-7 with a shot at getting into the playoffs if they can beat the Chiefs at home and the right teams lose on Sunday.
What has been the reason for this turnaround? The offensive line has solidified and while it isn’t a list of marquee names, the same guys are suiting up every week and staying on the field. Last season the offensive line was a turnstile with a new starting five almost every week. First round draft pick D.J. Fluker has done a great job at right tackle, helping open holes for the running backs. When starting left tackle King Dunlap missed games because of a concussion, Fluker moved to left tackle and played just as well. Jeromey Clary has found new life at right guard, Nick Hardwick hasn’t missed a game at center. Rich Ohrnberger, Johnnie Troutman and Chad Rinehart have all played well at left guard. The unit is playing better as the weeks go by and it shows. Rivers has been sacked 27 times through 15 weeks this season. Last season, Rivers was sacked a league high 49 times, a drastic improvement.
Ryan Mathews has found his stride and has put together his best season as a pro. Whether it was a change in philosophy or the new system implemented by head coach Mike McCoy, Mathews has run with a purpose and was one yard away (he had 99 against Oakland) from tying LeSean McCoy with six 100-yard rushing games this season. Mathews has more 100 yard games than higher profile backs like Jamaal Charles(4), Arian Foster(2), DeMarco Murray(3), Alfred Morris(3), Matt Forte(4) and has as many Adrian Peterson(5).
Mathews has run for over 100 yards in five of the last ten games and has a 99 yard game as well. For the first time in his career, he is set to play all 16 games and has already posted a career best 1,111 yards rushing. The Chargers are 4-1 when Mathews rushes for 100.
As a result of the first two factors, Philip Rivers is having an All-Pro season. Only Peyton Manning has more 400 yard games(4) than Rivers(3). Rivers is the fourth highest ranked quarterback in the league.
Wide receiver Keenan Allen was rushed into the starting lineup after a season ending injury to Malcolm Floyd. Allen quickly became the number one receiver and has burst onto the scene over the last 11 games. If Keenan Allen isn’t the Offensive Rookie Of The Year, the award should be discontinued due fraud. Allen is going to be a big name in the NFL as he gets years under his belt.
A who’s who of big names on defense hit the injured list before the season began including Melvin Ingram, Dwight Freeney, Larry English and draft pick Steve Williams. Out of that necessity, lesser names have had to fill greater roles, thrust into the spotlight as starters. As a result, unknowns such as Thomas Keiser, Andrew Gachkar, Bront Bird, Sean Lissemore and rookies Tourek Williams and Mantei Te’o have logged significant playing time and thrived. Now the defense has solidified and become a cohesive unit. The defense now has 33 sacks, 74 passed defensed, 11 interceptions and forced 11 fumbles (recovering 6).
The Chargers have finally all come together and look like one of those teams no one will want to play should they get into the playoffs. They played as close to a perfect game as possible in beating the Giants at home and Broncos in Denver with only five days between games. They played sloppily in the first half of the Raiders game but took over the game in the second half and cruised to victory.
The story of the season is the Chargers have beaten Denver, Kansas City, Dallas, Indianapolis and Philadelphia. Each are teams who are now or were at the top of their division. Their quality of wins are excellent. They have lost to Washington, Oakland, Tennessee and Houston. Those teams are now or were last in their division. Questionable play calling, poor execution and mental lapses have made the difference in the Chargers being in the playoffs now as opposed to fighting for a spot at the end of the season.
The good news is the Chargers are finally playing together. The offense is on track and all the moving pieces on both sides of the ball are set in place and formed a solid wall instead of a Jenga building. The new faces on defense are making fewer mistakes as they get valuable playing time in and that on-the-field experience has made all the difference here at the end of the season. Those unknowns will make the Chargers a dominating defensive unit once the injured players like Freeney, Steve Williams and Ingram start next season healthy.
At 8-7 the Chargers are guaranteed at least a .500 season. Most (not me) expected the Chargers to finish with fewer than eight wins. The McCoy/Telesco era is already off to a promising start and as this program is reshaped, will only get better.