2014 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS FOOTBALL PREVIEW
July 11, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
2014 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS FOOTBALL PREVIEW
COACH: MIKE McCOY, 9-7 @ SAN DIEGO
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: FRANK REICH
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: JOHN PAGANO
OFFENSIVE PPG: 24.8
TOTAL OFFENSE: 393.3
DEFENSE SCORING: 21.8
TOTAL DEFENSE: 366.5
TO MARGIN: -4
It took San Diego three years to get back to the playoffs and now Chargers fans are expecting even more in 2014. GM Tom Telesco brought in Head Coach Mike McCoy and they changed the entire atmosphere in just one season and now they must find a way to catch the Denver Broncos in the AFC West.
QB Phillip Rivers was perhaps the one player who needed to be revived and he was. Rivers threw for 4,478 yards, 32 TD’s and a completion percentage of 69.5%. Those numbers were good enough to rank San Diego 4th overall in the NFL. Rivers made the necessary adjustments in Coach McCoy’s up-tempo offense to post one of the best seasons in his NFL career.
Rivers isn’t alone when it comes to San Diego’s resurgence. Several receivers benefitted from San Diego’s up-tempo style offense including Keenan Allen and TE Antonio Gates. Allen became a starter in the third game of the season and finished with 71 receptions for 1,046 yards and 8 TD’s. Gates had something to prove after doubters said his career was in decline. Gates led the team with 77 receptions for 872 yards and 4 TD’s. San Diego could be even more explosive if Malcom Floyd can return from a neck injury that ended his season in San Diego’s second game last season.
RB Ryan Matthews put together solid numbers rushing for 1,255 yards and 6 TD’s. Matthews is heading into the final year of his rookie contract and if he can stay healthy, he should top his 2013 numbers. Back-up Danny Woodhead remains a valuable back-up (429 yards rushing) and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield (76 receptions). Former Colts RB Donald Brown was signed in the off-season and the Chargers selected Arizona State RB Marion Grice in the 6th round to provide depth.
The offensive line showed steady improvement in 2013 led by LT King Dunlap, C Nick Hardwick, RT DJ Fluker, RG Jeromey and LG Chad Rhinehart.
If the Chargers are to take the next step in catching the Broncos, they MUST find a way to improve their porous secondary. San Diego was ranked 29th in pass defense in the NFL in 2013 and that spells bad news against teams like the Broncos and QB Peyton Manning. The Chargers used the draft on defense including drafting former TCU DB Jason Verrett with their first round pick. OLB Jerry Attaochu (Georgia Tech) was taken in the second round and NT Ryan Carrethers (Arkansas State) was picked with the 5th selection. Verrett will play opposite CB Shareece Wright. Verrett isn’t big but the Chargers feel his toughness will make up the difference. Steve Williams will be relegated to a back-up after a disappointing 2013 season. Marcus Gilchrist will return at SS, veteran Eric Weddle is back at FS. Brandon Ghee will fight for time at CB while Brandon Taylor and Darrell Stuckey will also look for playing time at SS and FS respectively.
San Diego needed to re-sign LB Donal Butler and they did. Butler is a big hitter and will set the tone for the Chargers defense. Butler will play alongside Manti Te’o who had a very solid freshman season. Veteran Dwight Freeney returns after missing most of 2013 with a quadriceps injury. The question will be how much he has left in the tank. Jarrett Johnson and Melvin Ingram are hoping to return after injuries hampered them last season and free agent Kavell Conner (Indianapolis) will look for playing time. Attaochu left Georgia Tech as their all-time sacks leader (31.5) and it may not take long before he is in the starting line-up.
The D-line doesn’t have the big names but they could be solid with Rookie Ryan Carrethers drafted in the 5th round. Carrethers will join DE Corey Liuget, DE Kendall Reyes, DE Lawrence Guy, DT Sean Lissemore and DE Damik Scafe. The Chargers ranked 23rd in the NFL in sacks and that must change in 2013.
San Diego is in line to return to the playoffs in 2014 but there may not be enough pieces in place yet to overcome the Broncos. The schedule doesn’t do them any favors either with road games at Arizona, Denver, Baltimore, San Francisco and Kansas City. Home games include Seattle, Kansas City, New England and Denver. The playoffs aren’t automatic but after a season of renewed confidence, the Chargers will make things interesting.
Chargers Draft: What the Experts Had to Say
ESPN'S MEL KIPER
They didn't have many picks, but I think the Chargers came out pretty well. I really like Jason Verrett, a competitive cover man who won't shy away from contact. San Diego gets the added bonus of grabbing a CB that would have been the ideal fit for division rival Denver a handful of picks later. I had OLB down as a need, and the fact that Jerry Attaochu was there had to be a pleasant surprise. Chris Watt is a good interior blocker and could be used soon, and Ryan Carrethers gives them the depth they needed up the middle on defense. Marion Grice has really good hands out of the backfield and Tevin Reese, while undersized, is an absolute burner who could find a role given the lack of a similar player. The Chargers didn't have a special draft in terms of value, but they added pretty solid pieces and crossed needs off the list. Because they had only six picks they lose a little value, but they worked the board well.
CBS SPORTS' ROB RANG
San Diego did a very nice job of filling some holes with a limited number of picks. What Jason Verrett lacks in size, he makes up for with quickness, instincts and tenacity. One of the long-time NFL scouts I trust most graded Verrett as the top senior prospect in the country, regardless of position. I love the schematic fits and value that the Chargers found with outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu in the second round, guard Chris Watt in the third and nose guard Ryan Carrethers in the fifth. Former ASU running back Marion Grice offers a very specific skill-set as one of the elite pass-catchers at the position as does big play wideout Tevin Reese, whose speed is better described with his propensity for long touchdowns rather than just his 40-yard dash time. Reese was clocked at 4.41 seconds. More impressively, 22 of his 25 career touchdowns at Baylor traveled at least 40 yards. That's no misprint. San Diego is gambling on some specialists here to be sure but they are intriguing fits that could help the Chargers take another step in the divisional race.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED CHRIS BURKE
Loved the start, which featured CB Jason Verrett at No. 25 and OLB Jeremiah Attaochu at No. 50. The rest of San Diego’s work was a little humdrum, albeit need-based humdrum that landed G Chris Watt and 337-pound NT Ryan Carrethers. Seventh-round WR Tevin Reese should have a chance to speed his way to playing time, if he proves a viable deep threat during camp and into the preseason. I wish I could say RB Marion Grice will have the same chance. Unless he wins a kick-return job, though, the talented back will be stuck behind Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown in the backfield. If that happens, the Grice selection will not have made much sense.
The Chargers have long known the “who” and “where” of the 2014 schedule, but now they know the “when”. Breaking it down, fans are in for an incredibly entertaining season.
“The announcement of the schedule is always exciting for our players, our entire organization, and especially our fans,” said Head Coach Mike McCoy. “It’s going to be a challenge this year, as it is every year. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season.”
For the third straight year, the Chargers open the season in primetime with the late game of a Monday night double-header as they travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals. In an odd twist, San Diego begins the season facing the very same team they end the preseason against on Aug. 29. The Chargers own a lifetime 9-3 record against the Cardinals and have won the last three in a row.
In their home opener in Week 2, the Bolts face a stiff test when they host the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks. It will certainly be a raucous crowd on hand at Qualcomm Stadium to welcome the former AFC West foe. The Seahawks lead the all-time series 26-23, and are 2-1 since moving to the NFC West.
Week 3 finds the team facing their first AFC opponent of the year as they travel cross country to face the Buffalo Bills. The Bolts are 22-12-2 against the Bills, and won the most recent meeting 37-10 in 2011.
Returning to America’s Finest City, the Chargers play host the Jacksonville Jaguars next on Sept. 28 in the first of a two-game home stand. The Bolts own a 4-2 lifetime record against the Jags, and have won three in a row the latest of which being a 24-6 victory last season.
The Jets are next up visiting Qualcomm Stadium in Week 5. The teams have bitter rivalry as they always seem to take it down to the wire. This year, San Diego hopes to notch one more victory to their current 20-14-1 advantage in the series.
Week 6 begins the first of three AFC West matchups. First up, the Bolts head north to take on the rival Oakland Raiders in Week 6. The Chargers trail the all-time series 59-48-2, and will look to avenge a 27-17 loss at The Coliseum last year.
The Kansas City Chiefs visit San Diego in Week 7. The last time these teams played at Qualcomm Stadium the Chargers emerged victorious with a come-from-behind 27-24 overtime win. Clinching a postseason berth for the Bolts, it’s a victory that will long be remembered, who boast a 54-53-1 lifetime record.
The Bolts are back in primetime for a Mile High trip to face the Denver Broncos on Thursday night football. Last season in week 15, these teams squared off in a game the Chargers won 27-20. Unfortunately, the Broncos eliminated the Bolts from the playoffs a month later, which has turned this division rivalry into one of national prominence. Denver leads the all-time series 58-49-1.
For the second straight season, a game against the Broncos is followed by one against the Miami Dolphins. Mike McCoy’s team will head to South Beach looking to snap a seven-game losing streak in Miami. In fact, San Diego hasn’t beaten the Dolphins in the regular season in the Sunshine State since 1980, including a 20-16 loss in 2013 that gave Miami a 15-14 series edge.
Following a Week 10 bye the Bolts host four of the next five games at home in what will surely be a crucial stretch of the season. It kicks off with Oakland visiting Qualcomm Stadium on Nov. 16, where the Chargers have won the last two meetings against their rivals at home.
Following Oakland’s visit to the Q, the St. Louis Rams come to America’s Finest City in Week 12 for a rare meeting between the two teams. This marks only the 11th time in history they’ve squared off, with the Rams owning a 6-4 lifetime mark against the Chargers. The last time they played in San Diego was in 2006 when the Bolts won 38-24.
The Chargers head cross-country yet again when they visit the Baltimore Ravens. The trip marks only the third time the team has ever played the Ravens in Charm City with the Bolts winless on both attempts. The Chargers also trail the all-time series 5-4.
Week 14 finds the Bolts back in primetime when they play host to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. The teams haven’t played since 2011, and the last time the Bolts came up victorious in San Diego was back in 2008. New England owns a 22-15-2 edge lifetime against the Chargers.
Peyton Manning and the Broncos visit San Diego the following week. The Chargers look to reverse recent woes against the Broncos at home, where they have dropped the last three decisions. However, the match also marks the regular season home finale, and the Bolts have a knack for season finales having won the last eight at Qualcomm Stadium.
For the third straight week the Chargers will face a team that made it to the Conference Championship game last season. This time they head north to the Bay area to visit the San Francisco 49ers in the final scheduled primetime game of the year. It will be a Saturday game between the intrastate rivals, and the time and exact station will be announced at a later date. San Francisco owns a 7-6 record against the Chargers.
The Bolts end the season for the second consecutive year against the Kansas City Chiefs. The last time these teams met in KC the Chargers emerged victorious in a back-and-forth affair when Philip Rivers found Seyi Ajirotutu on the boundary for a thrilling last second win.
Also, individual game tickets at Qualcomm Stadium are not yet on sale. The only way to secure your seat is by becoming a valued Season Ticket Member
Week 1 Monday, September 8 7:20 p.m @Arizona