The Chargers revamped the entire team in 2013, and all things said, it worked out pretty damn well for them. The team made a return to the postseason to the surprise of many, and that ended a three-year drought for the franchise.
The Chargers do have a good mix of experience and youth; and while the team is happy with its success, QB Phillip Rivers said “We accomplished a lot, we bounced back…we all felt good about what we did—except not reaching the top.” As to whether team can overcome rather long shot title odds according to NFL oddsmakers at Bovada is yet to be seen.
Odds to win Super Bowl: 40/1
Odds to win AFC: 14/1
Odds to win AFC West: +450
Betting Futures courtesy of Bovada
The Chargers passed almost 53 percent of their plays last season, and the team led the league with 39 drives of 10 plays or more due to the utilization of so many short pass routes. The time of possession for San Diego was 33 minutes last season, also a league-high, and new offensive coordinator former QB coach Frank Reich will likely seek to employ similar strategies to build on that approach.
Rivers returned to form last year due to a lot of audible calling and free styling. He led the NFL with a 69.5 percent completion ratio and was picked off just 11 times in 2013. The strength of an improved offensive line played an instrumental role in his success and he was doing a great job of reading defenses and taking what they gave him. He didn’t take as long to make his decisions and made quick zip passes. That’s going to lead to a high completion ratio, and the Chargers will have a formidable pass game once again, undoubtedly.
The backfield is also a major strength of the offense, though. Ryan Matthews rushed for 1,255 yards last season on 4.4 yards per carry and he’ll be the No. 1 back again this season.
Danny Woodhead had a good first season with San Diego, rushing for 429 yards and catching 76 passes for 605 yards and six TDs. Donald Brown was a huge free agent pick up as a rusher for Indianapolis last season, averaging 5.3 yards per carry on 537 yards. Brown caught an additional 214 yards. The dual threat of the backs in San Diego’s offense are going to make them a tough matchup for every NFL defense.
The WR corp is mediocre after losing some depth. Keenan Allen was just the 9th NFL rookie to amass more than 1,000 receiving yards and he’ll be the No. 1 target for Rivers. Eddie Royal returned to productivity with 47 receptions for 631 yards and he’ll be a crucial part of the Chargers’ offense again. It is after Allen and Royal that the options become far dicier.
The Chargers have to revamp pass defense, though. The team ranked AFC’s worst in pass D, allowing 274.2 yards per game. The 35 sacks by the defense were the 4th fewest in the AFC and 10th fewest in the NFL. San Diego lacks game changing defensive players and lacks explosiveness all over the field.
The team tried to address this via the draft, but its DL, LB, Secondary are all average at best. The Chargers have no real experience behind their top trio of defensive linemen. They are going to find themselves banking too heavily on a number of unproven players to step up to improve the pass defense. The (potentially unrealistic) hope is that two young CBs will help address this quickly. Verrett and Steve Williams have a lot to learn before they can be an effective tandem, though.
The Chargers became a faster team with a potentially better defense, but it has to make quantum leaps to make this team an actual contender. The offense is potent and versatile. It can attack equally well via the run and the pass, but if the defense can’t learn to control QBs and prevent teams from airing it out down the field, it’s tough to imagine this team building on its 9-7 record from a year ago.