Posted on: April 3, 2011 2:34 pm
Posted by Will Brinson
Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups.
2010 was a weird year for the San Diego Chargers. They had all the tools necessary to contend for a Super Bowl, and in a season when parity reigned supreme, that should have equated with success. It didn't, though, because the San Diego got off to one of its patented slow starts, performed epically horrible on special teams, and couldn't close out inferior teams.
Statistically, though, it was all there. Philip Rivers was a machine on offense, piling up big stats despite throwing to guys like Legadu Naanee, Patrick Crayton, Randy McMichael and Seyi Ajirotutu. Part of what got those A-listers on the top of the Bolts' receiving stats was injuries (well, most was injuries), and part was the holdout of Vincent Jackson. Oh yes, and Mike Tolbert -- just like everyone expected -- was the team's leading rusher.
Defensively, San Diego thrived despite not having an elite pass-rushing presence. In fact, just like on offense, they were the No. 1-ranked team in the league. And yet, again, no playoffs. It's a really odd conundrum, frankly, and it's either a really weird fluke or it's indicative of a bigger problem within the organization. Given the Chargers' typically annual success, the jury's still out on the latter, but another slow start and sloppy manner of missing the playoffs could change that in 2011.
Special Teams, Depth
It's not all that hard to pinpoint the problems for the Chargers in 2010. Pretty clearly, special teams cost them a couple of wins and therefore a shot at the postseason (plus, likely a divisional title).
Of course, fixing special teams is much easier than, say, fixing a giant hole at quarterback, and it's entirely possible that with the right personnel moves, the Chargers will be fine in that area in 2011. In fact, once some veterans were plugged into the special teams unit, San Diego was much better at the third leg of football than it was earlier in the year. (At that point, though, it was just too late.)
Perhaps the bigger problem for the Chargers in 2011 will be the status of certain players. Vincent Jackson was franchised, but depending on how the CBA shakes out, he could be gone. It seems somewhat reasonable that he's around for one more year. Malcolm Floyd could be out the door as well, meaning the Chargers' depth at wide receiver could be crushed back to late-last-year levels. If Kevin Burnett, Stephen Cooper, Eric Weddle, Jacques Cesaire, Travis Johnson leave, the defense is going to take a hit too. It's part of the problem with the way A.J. Smith built the team -- if the labor negotiations don't favor the league, San Diego's depth suffers.
1. Defensive End
As might have been said 5,000 times in these previews thus far, it's a pretty good year to need depth at defensive line. So it wouldn't be surprising at all to see the Chargers nab a defensive end with their first-round pick. J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan and Adrian Clayborn are all highly likely/possible picks for San Diego at No. 18.
Shaun Phillips had a monster year in 2010, but San Diego needs to beef up their linebacking corps, unless they actually think that Larry English can end up performing to his first-round expectations. (And, speaking of which, not exactly a great last pair of years in the first round for A.J. Smith, huh? Ryan Mathews and Larry English aren't exactly justifying their top-20 status.) English could still justify the selection, but there's some serious talent that would fit San Diego's scheme in guys like Robert Quinn, Akeem Ayers and Ryan Kerrigan, the latter two of whom should fall to 18 pretty easily. Quinn's a guy that would be a steal at 18 and could also be a trade-up target for Smith if hops up the board again in 2011.
3. Wide Receiver
Talk about an up-in-the-air position for the Bolts: if Jackson and Floyd end up leaving, they're going to need some serious help here. Buster Davis isn't going to pan out and while Antonio Gates should technically qualify as "depth" at wideout, having Naanee and Ajirotutu as the top receiving options just isn't going to cut it. Smith and Norv Turner know they can have success with less than elite talent, though, so seeing them take a wideout with an early pick would be a bit surprising.
Look, the Chargers are capable of winning it all in 2011. Statistics don't mean everything (obviously), but if a team is the top offensive AND defensive team, it means there's enough talent on the roster to bring home the Lombardi Trophy. Living up to the lofty expectations this franchise has set for the past few years in 2011 will require two things: not making simple mistakes and actually remembering that football starts in September.
It would help, too, for the Bolts to address some of their defensive needs as well. And for their last two first-rounders -- English and Mathews -- to play up to their potential. Should all of that happen in 2011 and the Chargers don't win the division and/or at least make a run to the playoffs, it's entirely possible that Norv Turner's job could be on the line once again. At this point, there's no viable reason for a team with this much success -- statistically speaking -- not to be converting their high-end performance into more wins.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed
Tags: A.J. Smith, Adrian Clayborn, Akeem Ayers, Antonio Gates, Buster Davis, Cameron Jordan, Eric Weddle, J.J. Watt, Jacques Cesaire, Kevin Burnett, Larry English, Legadu Naanee, Norv Turner, Offseason Checkup, Patrick Crayton, Philip Rivers, Randy McMichael, Robert Quinn, Ryan Kerrigan, Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, Seyi Ajirotutu, Shaun Phillips, Stephen Cooper, Travis Johnson, Vincent Jackson
Posted on: November 8, 2010 3:03 am
Edited on: November 8, 2010 3:27 am
Posted by Andy Benoit
3.) What the Hillis happened in Cleveland?
10.) Quick Hits
***In his first game back since suffering a week 6 concussion, Falcons cornerback Dunta Robinson did not look at all eager to stick his nose in there and be physical. Not saying the Falcons have another Bryan Scott situation on their hands (remember Bryan Scott, the rising safety for Atlanta who got a concussion and, for the next year or two, was noticeably afraid of contact?). But Robinson’s lack of aggressiveness was plain to see.
***This seems like a perfect segue into ripping Mike Jenkins one more time for his pathetic tackling effort (or non-effort) on the James Jones touchdown. Seriously Mike. What. Was. THAT?
***Nate Burleson got flagged for celebrating a touchdown by kicking the ball into the stands a few weeks ago. When he scored Sunday, Burleson did a wind up to boot the ball again, only this time he intentionally missed it. Clever. (P.S. Burleson had seven catches for 113 yards this game.)
***How about Ray Rice racking up 97 yards on seven receptions?
***When was the last time we saw two teams score fumble recovery touchdowns on kickoff coverage on the same day? Talk about the ultimate lucky touchdown. The Cardinals got one from Michael Adams and the Packers got one from Nick Collins on a fumble that would have been ruled down by contact if the Cowboys had been able to challenge.
***Hope you enjoyed watching Nick Collins, by the way, because if the NFL is true to its word about cracking down on illegal hits, the Packers safety should be suspended a game for his shot on Roy Williams. That hit was almost as egregious as Brandon Meriweather’s hit on Todd Heap. (True, Meriweather was not suspended, but that was likely only because the hit occurred the week before the NFL issued the harsher punishment for violating the rule.)
***I didn’t watch the Chargers-Texans game, but in seeing the highlights and scanning the box score, it’s looking like I might have to learn how to say the name Seyi Ajirotutu. Dammit all.
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Asante Samuel, Atlanta Falcons, Austin Collie, Brad Childress, Brett Favre, Buffalo Bills, Calvin Johnson, Carolina Panthers, Chris Harris, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Darrelle Revis, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jason Garrett, Jay Cutler, Jerry Jones, Jim Caldwell, Kansas City Chiefs, LaDainian Tomlinson, Mark Sanchez, Matthew Stafford, Michael Adams, Michael Turner, Michael Vick, Mike Jenkins, Minnesota Vikings, Nate Burleson, Ndamukong Suh, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Nick Collins, Oakland Raiders, Percy Harvin, Peyton Hillis, Peyton Manning, Philadelphia Eagles, Ryan Fitzpatrick, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Seyi Ajirotutu, Steve Johnson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Wade Phillips
Posted on: November 4, 2010 10:33 am
Posted by Andy Benoit
Late Wednesday we shared the news that tight end Antonio Gates could miss San Diego’s Week 9 contest against Houston due to plantar fascia (foot). Because it’s still fun to dump on the Chargers (and because, knowing the Chargers, we probably won’t get a chance to dump on them for much longer), we feel it’s necessary to point out that starting receivers Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee are both still out with hamstring injuries.
Neither wideout practiced Wednesday, and neither is expected to play Sunday. Backup Craig Davis was also put on Injured Reserve this week, and recently-arrived star Vincent Jackson must sit out another two games.
Thus, Philip Rivers could take the field Sunday with his top three receiving targets (non running back receiving targets, that is) being Patrick Crayton, Seyi Ajirotutu and Randy McMichael. That’s a starting trio that would draw nervous looks of skepticism even if this were just a preseason game.
Fortunately for the Chargers, they’re facing a Texans pass defense that ranks dead last in the NFL.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: November 1, 2010 6:40 pm
In his first game since injuring his shoulder in Week 1, Matthew Stafford was 26/45 for 212 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. (DeAngelo Hall, who was outplayed by Calvin Johnson for most of the afternoon, snagged the interception on a brilliant first quarter play.)The box score shows Washington gaining 80 yards on the ground, but 45 of those yards came on four Donovan McNabb runs. The Redskins never came close to sustaining a true rushing attack on Sunday.
Ndamukong Suh is running away with the Defensive Player of the Year award. The behemoth DT recorded two more sacks Sunday, bringing his total to 6.5 on the season. Suh also had five tackles and a game-sealing touchdown off a fumble return.Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril also recorded a pair of sacks for the Lions.
Only 42,339 people paid to see the Lions defeat the Redskins.The Bills became the fourth team in NFL history to lose back-to-back overtime games on the road. (Of course, that kind of heartbreak is nothing for a franchise that once lost back-to-back Super Bowls back-to-back times.) The last team to lose two straight road overtime games was the ’09 Steelers (remember them?).
For what it’s worth, Kansas City’s Thomas Jones became the first player in NFL history to rush for 500 yards for a fifth different team. Jones had 77 of the Chiefs’ 274 yards rushing. (Jamaal Charles led the way with 177; he also led the Chiefs with 61 yards receiving.)C.J. Spiller seemed to spend as much time at wide receiver as running back. And not at slot receiver – split out WIDE, as in outside the numbers. Spiller finished with four catches for 28 yards and six carries for 17 yards. (It’s apparent that the first-round rookie is still doing too much reading and not enough reacting.)
Paul Posluszny led the Bills with 18 tackles. He has extra chances to tackle because none of Buffalo’s defensive linemen can get off blocks.
Steven Jackson played with a broken finger against the Panthers. He came out in passing situations (one catch, four yards), but rushed for 59 yards on 23 carries (his performance looked better than the numbers suggest).You can call off the search party for Carolina’s running game – not because the run game was found but because it’s safe to declare it dead. Jonathan Stewart managed just 30 yards on 14 carries against the Rams. DeAngelo Williams stayed home with a foot injury.
James Laurinaitis is putting together a Pro Bowl season. On Sunday the second-year linebacker had eight tackles, a sack, three tackles for a loss and an interception (which came on a horrendous decision and throw by Matt Moore).The Packers told Aaron Rodgers all week not to worry about his completion percentage – just make sure he didn’t turn the ball over. Rodgers listened. He was 15/34 passing with zero interceptions and fumbles.
LaDainian Tomlinson is clearly the No. 1 back for the Jets. He got 16 carries against Green Bay; Shonn Greene got six. Neither player was particularly effective (LT got tripped up on several shoestring tackles).
After catching a pass in 133 straight games, Donald Drive was held without a catch for a second straight game. He was still hampered by a quad injury.Troy Smith was an efficient 12/19 for 196 yards and a touchdown in his 49ers starting debut. Looks like Mike Singletary may have a new starting Smith to threaten with a benching.
Brandon Lloyd hauled in seven passes for 169 yards. Lloyd has had triple-digit receiving yards in five games this season.Justin Smith led the Niners with two sacks and two tackles for a loss.
Seyi Ajirotutu (save some vowels for the rest of us, pal) had three catches for 48 yards for the Chargers. Ajirotutu is an undrafted rookie from Fresno State.
Adrian Peterson carried the ball 25 times for 92 yards Sunday, with his longest run going for just nine yards.
LeGarrette Blount had 22 carries for 120 yards and two touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s win at Arizona. (Cadillac Williams had just four carries for 10 yards.)
In his first game since Week 3, Steve Breaston caught eight passes for 147 yards.No one for the Steelers had more than 43 yards receiving at New Orleans Sunday night.
@cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
Tags: Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Arizona Cardinals, Brandon Lloyd, Buffalo Bills, C.J. Spiller, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Danny Woodhead, Darren Sproles, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Donald Driver, Donovan McNabb, Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, James Laurinaitis, Justin Smith, Kansas City Chiefs, LaDainian Tomlinson, LeGarrette Blount, Mark Sanchez, Marques Colston, Mike Tolbert, Minnesota Vikings, Ndamukong Suh, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Robert Meachem, Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Seyi Ajirotutu, St. Louis Rams, Steve Breaston, Steven Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Thomas Jones, Troy Smith, Washington Redskins