Behind enemy lines: San Diego Chargers


Good day to you, Kansas City Chiefs fans. Thanks for joining me once again on a series where I’m covering what’s been going on with our AFC West opponents this offseason.

Last week we took a look at what’s been going on with the Oakland Raiders and all signs seem to be pointing the team going in a more positive direction in the win column. This week we will travel a short distance to see what the San Diego Chargers have been up to.

The Chargers were in the playoff hunt for most of the season last year playing competitive football but had a meltdown in the last quarter of the season losing three of their last four games which resulted in a 9-7 record. The season ended on a rather sour note for the Chargers losing in Kansas City and being eliminated from playoff contention. Let’s take a look at some of the moves they made this offseason and what this means for the AFC West.

What they did in free agency:

As you can see the Chargers didn’t sign an overwhelming amount of talent but a couple of guys here will assist instantly and help this team out. San Diego passed the ball well as the team was ranked 10th in the league in passing. Philip Rivers distributed the ball to a wide range of receivers that resulted in four of them (Allen,Gates, Royal, and Floyd) having over 700 yards of receiving. Adding Stevie Johnson to the mix will make the passing game even more dangerous as he’s shown to be a great route-runner and can win a lot of one-on-one matchups.

The team also signed one of the better guards in the league Orlando Franklin which will upgrade the team’s offensive line that has been an ongoing project. Franklin was ranked 13th in the league among NFL guards by Pro Football Focus with a positive 12 score. The PFF score also indicated he’s a slightly better pass blocker than run blocker ranking eighth in pass protection and 13th in run blocking.

Who they drafted in 2015:

I look at this draft and I’m by no means shocked by the direction they went. This team struggled mightily in two specific areas in 2014 which was running the ball on offense where the ranked 30th and stopping the run on defense where they ranked 26th. The team had to stop the bleeding in these two areas so they started things off by trading up for Melvin Gordon in the first round who was probably my favorite player to watch in college.

I had watched several games prior to the draft and was just blown away how much Gordon reminds me of our very own Jamaal Charles. It appears to me Gordon is a huge fan of Jamaal because their running styles are so similar. As much as I loved Gordon going into the draft I will probably grow to hate him very quickly as Chiefs fans will get a dose of what it’s like to have to play against Charles on a regular basis.

After taking Gordon the team then just went completely in the opposite direction attempting to bolster the defense. When looking at this team statistically they actually carry a lot of similar traits to the Chiefs. Both teams seemed to do well in yards per game allowed, Kansas City ranking seventh and San Diego ranking ninth in the league. They both were among the league’s best in pass defense, too, where Kansas City ranked second and the Chargers were fourth.

The team’s similarities met once again in the run defense department where they both were among the leagues worst. The Chiefs ranked 28th and the Chargers were slightly better at 26th in the league. San Diego may have helped themselves out in a big way by drafting Denzel Perryman who has a lot of upside and instinct as an inside linebacker.

The Chargers, like the Chiefs, are hoping to be a more balanced defense but a lot of their hopes are riding on draft picks. This is unlike Kansas City, who’s statistical flaws were also based on injuries of their best inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and safety Eric Berry. San Diego also lost center Nick Hardwick and linebacker Jarret Johnson this offseason as both decided to hang up the cleats and retire. Both of these players were starters (Hardwick missed 2014 with a neck injury) and there’s no certainty that both holes have been filled. Chris Watt is expected to be the center in this coming season who took 331 snaps at center last year and finished with a negative .04 overall score. Let’s take a look at their upcoming schedule to evaluate how the team will fare.

Chargers Schedule:

  • Lions
  • @Bengals
  • @Vikings
  • Browns
  • Steelers
  • @Packers
  • Raiders
  • @Ravens
  • Bears
  • Chiefs
  • @Jaguars
  • Broncos
  • @Chiefs
  • Dolphins
  • @Raiders
  • @Broncos

If I’m assuming the Chiefs can win 10 or 11 games I’d have to say the same for this AFC West foe as well. The Chargers may be relying on some rookies to assist with their defensive woes but they made a couple of key pickups offensively in free agency who have a proven track record.

When you consider that and the fact they drafted a talented running back like Gordon you should expect to see a much more balanced offense in 2015. This could take a team that was ranked 17th in the league in scoring up closer to the 10 area which could help alleviate some roster flaws that may not be fully taken care of.

One caveat that once again presents itself as a similarity between Kansas City and San Diego is the contract issue with NFL star safety Eric Weddle. Weddle did show up for the team’s mandatory minicamp. Unlike Justin Houston who is in a similar contract battle, he communicated his frustration on the matter to the media as he doesn’t see himself in the team’s long-term plans.

What do you think, Addicts? Chargers taking a step forward, back, or staying neutral in 2015?