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San Diego Chargers Exit Interview

The San Diego Chargers did not make the most of what should be their last season in San Diego. This team had plenty of talent on both sides of the ball but injuries and a one-dimensional offense were their downfall in 2015.

Mike McCoy has done a decent job as a head coach of the Chargers and his teams are competitive in most of their games.

That was largely the case this season, nine of their 12 losses were by eight points or less, which means their season could have been a lot different.

Maybe a move to Los Angeles will be just what the Chargers need to turn things around next season.

STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES

STRENGTHS:

Quarterback, pass defense, tight end

Quarterback:

Philip Rivers has been a solid quarterback for a very long time. Last season he took a lot of criticism because he had a down year but this year it was the exact opposite. Philip Rivers simply didn’t have any running game or a healthy group of receivers to throw to.

Antonio Gates was suspended for the first four games of the season so that certainly didn’t help either. Rivers ended up throwing for more than 4,700 yards and 29 touchdowns to only 13 interceptions.

The former NC State quarterback did the best job he could and the franchise should be happy to have him going forward.

Pass defense:

The Chargers have plenty of talent on the defensive end. Jason Verrett out of TCU didn’t get much attention but he was a shutdown corner all season. Brandon Flowers is a former second round pick who has had some great seasons in Kansas City at cornerback.

Another guy who doesn’t get enough credit is Eric Weddle, the safety has been one of the best in the league at his position. However, the Chargers found every way possible to make Weddle unhappy and he’ll likely be gone in the offseason.

Corey Liuget anchored the defensive line and with young talent like Melvin Ingram, Manti Te’o and Jeremy Attaochu, this defense will be set up to be great in the future.

Tight end:

The Chargers lacked depth in key positions like at running back and wide receiver but they had plenty of it at tight end. Ladarius Green was great while filling in for Antonio Gates.

In those first four games, Green had 19 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns. He’s proven to be the likely successor to Antonio Gates when he decides to retire.

Antonio Gates was basically the team’s primary target once Keenan Allen went down for the season.

If he had those extra four games, he would have likely finished close to another 1,000 yard season. Hopefully for the Chargers sake, Antonio Gates decides to stick around a bit longer.

WEAKNESSES:

Offensive line, running back, wide receiver

Offensive line:

The Chargers drafted D.J. Fluker a couple of years ago in the first round and they also have a very consistent Orlando Franklin on the O-line. However, the rest of the line simply wasn’t good enough.

Philip Rivers was sacked 40 times this season and the Chargers were 31st in rushing yards per game. The offensive line’s inability to get any kind of push for a running back like Melvin Gordon hurt the team big time.

Running back:

This is a bit unfair because Danny Woodhead was a bright spot for this team, he actually led the team in receiving yards.

However, expectations were very high for Melvin Gordon going into his rookie season. Melvin Gordon learned the hard way what’s it like to not have any kind of blocking up front.

Gordon, along with other Wisconsin running backs like Ron Dayne and Montee Ball have been spoiled by the guys they have up front in college. Gordon was 46th among running backs in yards per carry at 3.5.

Rookies like Javorius “Buck” Allen and T.J. Yeldon were at least half a yard better when given their opportunities. It’s still early in his career but hopefully Melvin Gordon gets better and his career doesn’t go in the direction where other Wisconsin running backs have gone.

Wide receiver:

Keenan Allen was probably on pace to set the single season receptions record, he had 67 through eight games and would have gotten close to Marvin Harrison’s record at 143. The biggest reason for that was because the Chargers didn’t have much depth at the position.

Allen went down for the season and with Stevie Johnson injured the team suffered. All that was left was Malcom Floyd, Dontrelle Inman and Javontee Herndon which didn’t give Philip Rivers much to work with. This is a position that the team will have to strengthen through either free agency or the draft.

TEAM NEEDS

PLAYERS TO RE-SIGN:

TE Antonio Gates

TE Ladarius Green

S Eric Weddle

WR Malcolm Floyd

DE Kendall Reyes

2016 FREE AGENT TARGETS ($27.7 MILLION PROJECTED CAP SPACE):

WR Travis Benjamin

WR Alshon Jeffery

RT Andre Smith

G Evan Mathis

FS Eric Berry

FS Reggie Nelson

2016 NFL DRAFT FIRST ROUND TARGETS (NO. 3 PICK)

C Nick Martin (Notre Dame)

WR Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma)

WR D.J. Foster (Arizona State)

 

Read Salute Magazine‘s other NFL exit interviews:

AFC East: Buffalo Bills | Miami Dolphins | New York Jets

AFC North: Baltimore Ravens | Cleveland Browns

AFC South: Tennessee Titans | Jacksonville Jaguars | Indianapolis Colts

 

 

 

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