San Diego Chargers: Offseason offensive grades
Things look to be improving with the Chargers on the offensive end, but will it be enough to compete for a playoff spot in the AFC? The NFL Odds are stacked against them this season with a new coach and play-caller, but the Chargers have enough talent to overcome.
Offensively last year was a season to forget. No one seemed to stay healthy, and the offense ranked 31st out of 32 teams in total offense. Both the passing and running game struggled. Ryan Matthews was hurt again and the running game almost fell apart. If it wasn’t for Ronnie Brown, things might have been worse. Matthews has to stay healthy and effective (something he has not done at all in his career) this year if the Chargers want to compete for a playoff spot.
While his season wasn’t that bad statistically, Phillip Rivers’ year wasn’t great either. He ranked 17th in the NFL in passing yards, and despite ranking near the top 10 in both passer rating and passing touchdowns, he had 15 interceptions and 15 more fumbles (7 lost), several on key drives. He was also sacked 49 times; ouch.
Even though Rivers had a bad season, I think he is one of the least of San Diego’s concerns. However he is still one. The biggest offensive concern for this squad outside of their new coach is the health of their star running back. Matthews has the ability to be a top 5 running back, but health has hampered him in his first three professional seasons. Matthews has never played more than 14 games in season, and last year he was held to only 12, starting only 9 of them. Even more disappointing was his 3.8 yards per carry, which is far worse than the 4.9 he did in 2011 where he started 14 games.
Other than some slight concerns opposite of the newly resigned Danario Alexander, the Chargers have been fixing their issues this offseason. However, health is the biggest variable for any NFL team, and there are not that many offenses with more injury concerns than the Chargers.
The resigning of Alexander is huge for this team. He was the only solid receiver for Rivers last season, and his presence will at the very least keep the defenses honest in the secondary. I also love the addition of King Dunlap and Max Starks on the end of the offensive line. Rivers’ blindside was a huge reason for how many hits he took last season, and that should obviously help his turnover numbers knowing he doesn’t have to worry about getting pancaked from behind every other play.
I still think there is room for improvement with this team, but as long as they are healthy, this team could very easily bounce back to a playoff contender and cover a few for our NFL picks. However if Matthews goes down again, that might set off a domino effect leading to another losing season in southern California.
My Grade: B