Saturday 25 August 2012

Chargers defence impresses while knocked up offense struggles

San Diego Line
The Chargers' game vs the Vikings was both worrying and exciting depending what side of the ball you were on. The defence have shown through preseason that they can return to the form they were in under Ron Rivera and that they now had the weapons to have a dangerous pass rushing attack. The offense, which only had five of its usual starters, failed to impress in any single area and did not manage a touchdown.

Starting on a positive note, the Chargers appear to have their pass rush problems finally solved. Kendall Reyes has managed a sack every game so far and Melvin Ingram, has also got to the quarterback. Most pleasing for the coaches and AJ Smith is seeing former first round pick Larry English getting in on the sack count. One of his teammates was quoted after the game as saying that English had been 'unblockable for the last ten days'. He certainly made himself hard to block against the Vikings and managed a pair of sacks which should get him in the mix for a larger number of reps in the regular season. He is likely to play well in the season so long as he stays away from injury but as the Chargers know already, he has struggled with injury throughout his NFL career. Overall the Chargers defence was very promising keeping the first team Vikings offense to three points for three quarters.

The offense however was disappointing. It cannot come as a huge surprise that the offensive line struggled on the left side and down the middle seeing as they were missing their left guard and tackle as well as Centre Nick Hardwick. Jared Allen absolutely dominated replacement left tackle Mike Harris who has had a good training camp for an undrafted rookie. This has to worry the Chargers and Philip Rivers though as one of the main reasons the Chargers went on their six game losing streak was the injuries imposed on the offensive line. If this is the standard our backups are at then it is a big concern as the Chargers are bound to have one or two injuries on the offensive line in the season and Rivers will be feeling a lot of pressure.

Charlie Whitehurst unsurprisingly had a difficult game but under the circumstances seemed to cope reasonably well. The main disappointment for me was to see nobody step up and grab the backup running back job. With Ryan Mathews out the Chargers simply cannot afford to have their backs averaging two or three yards until Mathews returns. Edwin Baker managed to break out for one long run worth 21 yards but that was the only highlight of his game as he managed 14 yards off 12 carries discluding that run. No other back did anything special and it would appear Ronnie Brown will get the job despite only getting one run all game.

With Floyd and Meacham not being used a huge amount this preseason and particularly this week against the Vikings, the other receivers have been given the chance to impress the coaches in preseason. The one man who has stood out to me is punt return specialist Michael Spurlock who lead in recieving yesterday and also hasn't dropped a ball which has been thrown to him thus far. This could be very important as there is already an injury for Vincent Brown and he could well be needed in the regular season.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Rookie watch

After two weeks of preseason we can start to gauge the effectiveness of our rookies. The preseason is important for the rookies to make an impression and prove that they are ready to start in the regular season. I will give each of our drafted rookies in the first three rounds a grade for their first two performances and give a mention to other important rookies.

                                         Melvin Ingram A

Ingram was very impressive against the Green Bay Packers in week one. He made a great move on the Left Tackle on 4th and 2 and ran straight on to Rodgers who was forced to chuck it straight to Cason for the interception. Ingram was impressive on various other plays notching up a couple of tackles and lived up to his hype of being the best outside linebacker in the draft. In the game against Dallas he wasn't quite as impressive but still managed to get his first NFL sack. Overall everyone has been very impressed with Melvin Ingram and he has settled into the NFL straight away. He seems to be able to shed blocks like he did in college and his athletic ability is constantly on show.

Kendell Reyes B+
Although he hasn't looked quite as dominant as Ingram, Reyes still managed a sack in week one along with a few good tackles in the running game in both weeks. He has done nothing wrong and has been all round solid. I fully expect him to line up at defencive end alongside Corey Liuget and will hopefully continue to impress.

Brandon Taylor B
Taylor was traded up for by the Chargers and he seems a decent player. He  had a few tackles in both games and seemed fairly solid in coverage. It is difficult to know quite how good he is however as unlike Reyes and Ingram he has lined up in the second team so although he looked good, he hasn't gone up against the best quarterbacks or running backs who might exploit his rookie experience. Although he's been reliable thus far, he hasn't come up with a big play so has not impressed enough to get a  higher grade.

As for the other drafted players, Ladarius Green has not yet caught a ball in preseason but has impressed in camp. Johnnie Troutman is injured for the season, something the Chargers already knew about when drafting. David Molk, who fell to the 7th round for the Chargers and is considered very good value, has done his business and as most Centres do, kept out of the headlines. He's played a few snaps in the games and has gone unnoticed which is good as an offensive lineman. One man who I have been disappointed in is Edwin Baker who was our final selection. Baker failed to make any sought of impression in camp or so far in preseason and will likely loose out on a roster spot. He was a rookie I thought very highly of and thought might become a decent third running back but Ronnie Brown and either Jackie Battle or Michael Hayes will take that spot.

There have also been some impressive performances in training camp and preseason for some the undrafted free agents. Jarrett Lee has been the most impressive as in week one while backup Whitehurst was injured, Lee threw for 235 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Although he may struggle to make the final roster as Whitehurst will take the backup role, he has certainly impressed and may find himself on the verge of making a roster position on another team. Michael Hayes who I previously mentioned impressed a lot in training camp. He has been less impressive in preseason so might miss out on a roster spot but is probably more likely to get in baring in mind Ryan Mathews' injuries. Mike Harris has been the stand out tackle for rookies in camp and preseason. He has probably earnt himself a roster spot especially with LT Jared Gaither struggling with injury.

Monday 20 August 2012

Time for a reunion?

Shawne Merriman, was cut by the Buffalo Bills this morning. If you had even a vague knowledge of the NFL 5 or 6 years ago then you will be aware that Merriman used to be a star outside linebacker for San Diego. Merriman was a key reason the Chargers were thought of as one of the best defences in the league and formed a lethal pass rushing threat.

Unfortunately, from the 2008 season to 2010, Merriman suffered numerous season ending injuries and after such a long length of time spent on the PUP list, the Chargers were forced to cut him. Merriman was given a generous two year contract worth around $10 million problems by the Bills in 2011. This proved to be a mistake for the Bills organisation as Merriman failed to produce anything like what he achieved in previous years in San Diego. Thus today's events are no shock to many people bearing in mind Merriman's hefty wage bill in contrast to his performance.

So, like true Charger fans we wonder would it be worth inviting Merriman back to San Diego? Well one thing that is for sure is it shouldn't carry a large risk as Merriman will not be valued much more than the minimum NFL wage. It would also get bums on seats in Qualcomm which is important considering the recent blackout vs Dallas in preseason. It may also benefit Merriman to be back in familiar (and much warmer) surroundings. He would join old team mate Shaun Phillips at Outside linebacker and might be able to rediscover some of his old form.

One problem with the move however is that San Diego have little room for an Outside Linebacker with Shaun Phillips, Antwan Barnes, Jarrett Johnson and impressive rookie Melvin Ingram using up most of the playing time. Even Larry English has been impressive and bringing in a player who is thought to be past his prime in for a promising young player would be difficult for AJ Smith to justify. It is also true that Merriman has shown absolutely no signs of his 2005-2007 form and in all likelihood will not show it again. As well as that, AJ Smith is a GM who wants to move on from a player once he has cut them however good they have been for the franchise. This was shown by his reluctance to re-sign  LaDanian Tomlinson after leaving the Jets.

Overall the move is unlikely and there will be 31 other teams considering taking Merriman on the Cheap. The best thing to do in my opinion would be to give Merriman a week with the practise squad and see how he performs. If he impresses then they can sign him with a cheap contract and please those San Diego fans with Merriman shirts like me! If not they can just release him and move on and at least say they tried. But as we all know it isn't about what I think, it's about what AJ Smith thinks and anyone who can predict what AJ Smith does can phone up and get a job because that man is certainly difficult to make predictions about!

Saturday 18 August 2012

This weeks preseason player battles and how they must impress

After a fairly impressive performance against the Packers, winning 21-13, the Chargers will continue their preseason campaign against the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night. The Chargers will first of all try and prevent any injuries to their starting players, but also try and build on certain aspects of their game in preparation for the regular season opener against the Raiders.

First of all they need to establish the ground game. With Ryan Mathews out for 4-6 weeks with a broken clavicle (collarbone), the Chargers will look towards the likes of Ronnie Brown, Jackie Battle and Curtis Brinkley to compete for a possible starting role. Ronnie Brown is considered as favourite for a starting job if Mathews does not return for week one but the coaches want to leave the position open to fight for. Le'Ron McClain has often aspired to rush the ball himself and we could see a few handoffs going his way so he can show what he can do. Norv Turner however will certainly be aware of the big Full Backs ability to be one of the best in the business for making holes in the defence for the backs to run into so he may not see a large role at tail back. Edwin Baker and Michael Hayes will also receive a chance to get the ball but they will need to make a fairly big impact in the coming games to feature often in the regular season.

Philip Rivers will aim to avoid getting turned over against Dallas and begin to put an end to his recent tendency of throwing interceptions. Jarrett Lee, who impressed in his first game in the NFL, will be looking to build on his previous performance once Turner feels Rivers has done enough. The receivers will continue their battle to impress the coaches with Floyd and Meacham fighting for that number one receiver position while Eddie Royal and Vincent Brown attempt to be the teams Primary slot receiver.

On the defencive side of the ball, rookies Ingram and Reyes will look to continue their successful start to their careers. Melvin Ingram, considered the best outside linebacker in the draft, showed off his pass rushing skills against the Packers last week and is sure to be a force in the league in coming years. Larry English, one of Ingram's fellow outside linebacker, has struggled with injury in previous years but managed to show off his pass rushing skills on defence last week and will look to earn himself more reps on defence in the competitive crop of linebackers that San Diego now owns. These are just a few players looking to carry on impressive performances, however nearly every defencive player gets a few reps in preseason so really any player has a chance to jump out and impress even if its merely fighting for a backup role. Other former first round picks like Corey Liuget will also be trying to show their worth and justify their selections.

One final pair of players battling it out is the pair of kickers on the roster. Nate Kaeding will be looking forward to putting his previous season behind him when he was injured on the opening kickoff, while Nick Novak, who was brought in as a replacement last season, will be hoping for an improvement of his performance against Green Bay where he missed his only attempt. Although Kaeding is a better kicker, he has a much larger contract and he has shown in the past that he cannot cope with the pressure of kicking post season field goals.As it is rare for a pair of kickers to be on the same roster in the regular season, both will be looking to avoid the dreaded cut.

Either way tonight's game promises to throw up some intriguing competitions and Charger fans will be hoping to see if some players can stand out from the rest. Highest on the wish list for coaching staff and fans will be for a running back to prove himself to be ready to start week one with the absence of Ryan Mathews.

Thursday 16 August 2012

What we have learnt after week one

Firstly, I apologise for the lack of recent articles but now the football season has as good as begun and I am free for the rest of the year, I am back to regularly adding posts to the blog.

In week one of the preseason, Charger fans learnt a fair bit about their team and what our fate may be come the end of the season. It is admittedly very difficult to judge a team's future on how they performed in the first week of preseason but what did we discover about the Chargers when they played Green Bay?

Well, we learnt that yet again Ryan Mathews cannot stay clear of injury. On his first possession of the game he suffered a broken clavicle which is expected to take him 4-6 weeks to recover from. Mathews is said to be targeting a comeback against the Raiders in week one but whether that is realistic or not, only time will tell. This injury encourages yet more doubt as to whether Mathews' body can live up to the strains of being a top back in the league. Many NFL analysts had predicted a huge season for Mathews this year and if he gets back for week 1 or 2 the season could still live up to expectation. Overall you have to be pleased as a Charger fan that this happened week one of the preseason rather than week one of the regular season and I'm sure that Ryan will be determined to get on that field against the raiders in the opening game of the season.

The rest of our offense seemed to perform solidly. Antonio Gates who said himself in training camp that he felt 100% fit put in an impressive performance and managed to link up with Rivers for a touchdown. This was a great site for the Chargers because if Gates can return to his usual self then there will inevitably be a much higher touchdown to field goal ratio as Gates when healthy excels in the red zone.Vincent Brown who had a promising season last year managed to gain 80 yards with four receptions. This will keep up the pressure on Eddie Royal for the third position on the depth chart and will likely lead to to the pair sharing time in the slot receiver position. As for Rivers he was fairly solid throwing both a touchdown and an interception but we will have to wait and see how Rivers performs when the pressure is on in the regular season before we judge how good he will be. The quarterback who most impressed me was Jarrett Lee who found his feat in the NFL very quickly. I admit he was against a second string defence but throwing for 235 yards and a completion percentage of 68.2 is certainly impressive.

On the defencive side of the ball the Chargers impressed. Top rookies Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes sttod out with Reyes kicking off his sack total. Ingram went on a blitz against Aaron Rodgers on 4th and 2 and grabbed hold of him forcing Rodgers to chuck it straight to Cornerback Cason's outstretched hands. This play by Ingram should get the whole organisation exited. He ran past the left tackle like he wasn't even there and got straight to the quarterback. All I can say is to watch this guy and expect Shawn Merriman type performances out of him.

So overall it was a good start to the preseason for the Chargers who will hope to have Mathews back as soon as possible and will want impressive rookies Melvin Ingram and Kendell Reyes to continue to get to the quarterback.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

The Wildcat...

A few weeks back the Chargers announced the signing of running back Ronnie Brown. Shortly after in practice Brown and a few other Chargers on offense were seen lining up on wildcat. Many people have criticised the prospect of the Chargers giving it a go but why is this? There are plenty of reasons for the Chargers to use the Wildcat on offense, which are explained below:

Firstly Ronnie Brown is Mr Wildcat. He is the man any team wanting to use the wildcat should want on their team. In Miami he burst onto the national seen breaking out huge plays under Steve Spagnuolo. With such experience at the role, the Chargers would be foolish not too even try snapping it straight to Brown on the odd occasion.

Those last two words 'odd occasion' lead me onto my second point. The Chargers will no be using the wildcat more than 3 or 4 times a game. With Phillip Rivers under centre there is no way the Chargers will over use the option as they already have an electric passing offense which can change the game in a matter of seconds. The Chargers will use it as a change up to keep the oppositions' defence on their toes. It will give defencive coordinators an extra thing to think about when planning on how to stop the likes of Phillip Rivers and Ryan Mathews.

The wildcat is a play which can produce really great plays. As you can see by Ronnie Browns 2008 wildcat highlights ( ) it is dangerous play for defences as you can handoff, rush or pass or even a mixture, this produced touchdown after touchdown for the Dolphins in 2008. If the Chargers can add just a little of the productivity Miami had out of the Wildcat in 2008 then they will be an even more feared offense to play against this year.

Another factor is the Chargers have plenty of play makers to go alongside Brown in the Wildcat. The likes of Ryan Mathews, Robert Meacham and Eddie Royal all gave the wildcat a go in OTAs. If Mathews in particular can grasp the art of the wildcat then it will be an extremely dangerous play. This was shown in Miami where Ricky Williams worked alongside Ronnie Brown. With this variety of electric athletes the Chargers are sure to find at least one player capable of playing alongside Brown.

Overall the wildcat is a very interesting option for the Chargers. It is true that Ronnie Brown has not shown the same form he did in 2008, however given the chance he will be able to make a few plays in his special role. The wildcat will provide opposing coaches with lots to think about and add an extra dimension to the offense and hopefully provide some amazing plays similar to those on the above link.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

The Chargers Soccer Team

With Euro 2012 beginning and much of the world watching the tournament I thought to myself what would a Chargers Soccer team look like? As a Football and Soccer fan I decided to make a Charger Soccer team with a 4-4-2 system (1 Goal Keeper, 4 defenders, 4 midfielders and 2

Goalkeeper- Malcom Floyd: The 6ft 5in WR would fill up most of the goal just with his arm span! He would catch nearrly every ball kicked at him and he's also great at diving (see photo). All together, Floyd would be a dominant goalkeeper in this squad.

Right Back- Shaun Phillips: Phillips is the perfect build for a right back. He can run a 4.69 40 yard dash and is a strong guy. He would be able to out muscle attackers and keep up with the wingers as the run down the sidelines. Phillips would provide Veteran leadership to the team.

Centre Back- Melvin Ingram: Being 6ft 1in and 264lb, Ingram would provide a physical presence in the middle of the field. He would out muscle strikers and and using his athleticism, out jump opposing players to header the ball out the box. He would be the mean defender who dominates opposition and show exactly why he is called #SuperMelvinCharged

Centre Back- Antonio Gates: Like Ingram, Gates is a tall physical guy who will provide all those things listed above which Melvin would provide. Gates would also give the team winning experience and knowledge. Only problem is that in England it is known as football and the foot part for Gates might be a little tricky if he so much as kicks the ball (due to previous foot injuries)... Oh well he's Gates he can do anything!

Left Back- Robert Meacham: Meacham would act more like a wing back providing speed and skill to run down the touch line and put in some decent crosses. Although not as big or physical as the other defenders, he has quick feet so would get in some good tackles on the ground and reacting fast to the opposing teams attackers.

Central Midfielder- Nate Kaeding: Although not the most athletic player on the squad there is no denying his kicking ability. He would play a holding midfielder role making long passes around the park and making one or two powerful strikes from outside the box (that is assuming he doesn't tear his ACL on his first kick of the season!)

Central Midfielder- Eric Weddle: Weddle would be the playmaker from the midfield. His vision and awareness would allow him to find passes and then execute them. He would be a dominating central midfielder, so long as there aren't any offensive lineman around to juke him! (see link)

Right Wing- Marcus Gilchrist: One of the teams many playmakers, Gilchrist would be a speedy winger after running a 4.45 in his 40 yard dash. I can also imagine Gilchrist having some nifty footwork and some impressive dribbling skills.

Left Wing- Eddie Royal: Royal would be the small nippy player who jukes and jinks around players causing havoc on the defence. He would provide pace and be a spark on the offensive part on the team. Hopefully he can show the skills from this FOR the Chargers rather than against them!

Centre Forward- Ryan Mathews: Mathews is my favourite soccer player on the team. He has everything a forward needs; Speed, Strength, Agility, Elusiveness, and vision. He would be a perfect fit at centre forward playing just off the striker.

Striker- Mike Schifres: The Chargers punter is one of the best in the league and combines accuracy and power to provide pin point punts inside the 20. This is all a striker needs if surrounded by physical talent as players will just get the ball to his feet and he can do the rest!

Friday 8 June 2012

Chargers add Ronnie Brown

The latest of the San Diego Chargers' Free Agency additions was RB Ronnie Brown who was acquisition was announced Friday afternoon. This in my opinion was a very strong pickup from the bolts as we lacked an experienced backup to Ryan Mathews.

Brown, who has played in the NFL for seven years, will provide the Chargers with key experience. He is a sound all round player who can block, catch, rush and even take snaps in the wildcat. This large range of skills should make him a very ideal third down back and takes some pressure off of Ryan Mathews who will be used a lot by the Chargers this year.

Before the addition, the Chargers were lacking experienced backups. Curtis Brinkley and the two rookies Hayes and Baker were the other options who all have a lot of potential but are not yet ready to be effective in the NFL. If Brown is retained however it will bring on the tough choice of cutting one or two of the previously mentioned players. However this is a business and you have to make tough decisions to fulfil Championship ambitions.

Overall Ronnie Brown was a very important pickup and should now really complete our offense. His average of 4.2 yards per gain should help out the Chargers but most importantly his versatility at the position will be extremely important.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

How Norv Turner can keep his job

Norv Turner was hired by the Chargers in February 2007. The appointment was some what of a surprise as Turner had been disappointing as head coach of the Raiders a few years back and was fired two years into his job. Turner is renowned as one of the best offensive minds in the game and transformed the Dallas Cowboys offense of the late 1900s from last in the league to 9th the next year. He was considered one of the main reasons for Dallas' back to back superbowl victories and has been similarly impressive for the Chargers' offense. Last year however, Turner disappointed yet again as head coach with a very talented squad. He and probably AJ Smith are on their final chance and must succeed this year to keep their jobs. The question is: How well does he need to do to keep his title as head coach?

Firstly the Chargers need to achieve a winning season. After finishing 8-8 last season alongside Denver and Oakland, the Chargers will have to improve on this record. With Denver acquiring Peyton Manning and the Chiefs looking stronger than last year the Chargers will need a winning season to reach the top of the AFC West. AJ Smith added key components mainly on defence to help the Chargers out in the offseason and should hopefully help give Rivers the ball more often. It's really now all down to Turner to get out there and win some games!

If the Chargers get to the post season lets say on a 10-6 or 9-7 record it is simply not good enough to go out in their first playoff game, especially if it's one of the wildcard games. San Diego fans are bursting to see a deep postseason run and I think Turner needs to get the Chargers to the AFC Championship game to truly earn his right to stay in San Diego for another year. This is a difficult task with many tough teams in the AFC, but Charger fans need to see some proper success from Turner's Chargers as the likes of Antonio Gates, Philip Rivers and Shaun Phillips wont last forever. Luckily, many of the Free Agent acquisitions who were brought in know what it is like to be in a successful playoff team. The likes of Robert Meacham from the Saints and Jarrett Johnson from the Ravens should provide key knowledge and understanding in what it takes to win big games.

Putting all other things to a side, all Turner really needs to do is get a superbowl victory. If he scrapes into the playoffs at 8-8 and makes a run similar to that of the Giants or Packers of previous years he will be the hero of San Diego. Nobody will care how he did it or whether he deserved it, they just want that trophy! If it requires luck or making some unpopular decisions it doesn't matter, all that matters is getting the Chargers franchise that trophy they have prayed for for so many years.

Monday 4 June 2012

Never forget

Now that the media have moved on from the tragic death of Junior Seau it is important for Charger, NFL and sport fans to never forget Junior Seau. I won't write about how great a player he was or how important he was to the San Diego community as we all already understand what he meant to everyone who knew him. This really is just to remind fans to never forget what Seau meant to everyone in San Diego and the football world. Although Junior's life may have passed, his soul and memory will be in everyone's hearts. This short clip sums up what Seau was like as a player and a person.

Thursday 31 May 2012

Chargers' keys for success in 2012

The Chargers will hope to regain a playoff position this year after missing out the past two years. To get in a winning position and have a long run in the playoffs, the Chargers need to do the following things:

1) Stay healthy- This may sound obvious but it is absolutely crucial for the Chargers. This years division winners could well be the team that keeps the most of its starters healthy. Take the Chiefs and Chargers last year. Both teams in all honesty were and in my opinion are much better than the Broncos but the Chiefs lost players like Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles. This was a big blow for the Chiefs who would have had a very good shot at the division victory if they had kept healthy. The Chargers meanwhile suffered a six game losing streak when much of their offensive line and receivers like Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates were injured. So with one of the tightest divisions in the league, the Chargers' trainers MUST keep the roster fresh and healthy, if they manage this the Chargers have a great chance to reach the playoffs.

2) Rivers Return to form- Rivers was a little off last year. Though not terrible he did not live up to his high standards and threw a disappointing 20 interceptions. Rivers seemed uncharacteristically shaky and made that shocking mistake in fumbling the snap against the Chiefs. Despite this poor year, Rivers is still a great quarterback and is capable of carrying a whole team on his back. If Rivers is at his best then the Chargers will be close to unstoppable and with the likes of Antonio Gates, Malcom, Floyd and Robert Meacham to aim at, he has all the tools needed to succeed.

3) Improvement on 3rd down on defence- Last year the Chargers were the worst in the league on third down success rate. The defence allowed offenses to gain a fresh set of downs 49.2% of third down attempts. This was the worst ever since the 1995 Browns. This has to change. AJ Smith was equally concerned and addressed the matter in the offseason by drafting pass rushing specialist Melvin Ingram. Ingram will join Shaun Philips and Antwan Barnes as pass rushers at outside linebacker. This is crucial as any quarterback can make medium or long yardage at third down if given lots of time, so the job of these linebackers is to get to the quarterback. Other acquisitions like Jarrett Johnson, also an outside linebacker, will sure up the run defence for third and short situations. The new defensive coach, John Pagano, will aim to improve the Chargers' success rate on third down, thus allowing the offense to get on the field and put points up on the board.

Monday 28 May 2012

AJ Smith - A new beginning

AJ Smith has been the GM for the Chargers since 2003 after being promoted from the assistant GM role. He has been described by critics as an arrogant man but also as a specialist at drafting. He has made some amazing picks in the past coupled with some poor ones. He hasn't yet got the Chargers to a Superbowl which is every General Manager's ultimate goal, but can he get the Chargers there over the next few years?

Firstly, AJ Smith has consistently given the team a realistic chance to go out and win it all which is the main job of a GM. The way NFL analysts seem to predict a Charger every year for the past 5 or 6 years is a compliment to AJ's ability as a GM.  He had that magical draft in 2004 where he took Philip Rivers, Shawne Merriman, Nick Hardwick, Shaun Phillips and Michael Turner. AJ aslo signed Antonio Gates in 2003 as an undrafted free agent. This gained him the reputation of a top class GM and was highly respected around the league.

Since 2004 Smith has been much less spectacular. Smith made a mess of the situation with top coach Schottenheimer by replacing him with Norv Turner. He also lost players like Merriman and Turner in free agency. Draft busts like Buster Davis and Larry English now come to mind when thinking of AJ's recent drafts. Corey Liuget was similarly unspectacular last year but he needs a few more years of playing time until we put the bust label on him. These poor offseasons over recent years made the Chargers an 8-8 team in 2011. However I think AJ has finally hit the jackpot this year with a special draft.

In this year's draft, Charger fans were crossing every finger, toe and whatever else they could in the hope that AJ would select Melvin Ingram, one of the biggest draft day tumbles of 2012. For once our hopes were met with relief rather than anger. Smith took the best player on the board who should have been a top 10 pick in Ingram providing the Chargers with a pass rushing machine who could well have a similar effect as Merriman did in his early years with the Chargers. Then came Reyes, a late 1st round to early 2nd round talent being picked up in the middle of the second. Other picks like Ladarius Green and Brandon Taylor were similarly smart picks and for the first time in a while I can say the Chargers and Smith did great. Add in his free agency additions and the Chargers are in much better shape than they were this time last year. The only thing AJ now needs to do is retain his key players for a long time like he did with Eric Weddle last year and the Chargers have the chance of finally winning that Superbowl trophy.

Saturday 26 May 2012

Which Charger players will impress or disappoint this year?

The Chargers have a very good chance of making the playoffs this season but face some tough opponents in the division. The top players will have to perform for them to stand a chance of playing deep into January and even February next year. Some players will stand out surprisingly, while some will likely disappoint, the question is who will and won't impress this year.

Players who will impress

Malcom Floyd- Floyd will be put in a position too succeed for the Chargers this year. With Vincent Jackson leaving in free agency and Rivers likely to return to his old self, Floyd should be targeted by Rivers as his big go too guy like Jackson was last year. Meacham will compete with Floyd for the number one spot but either way Floyd will be targeted a lot. So long as he stays healthy (something he has struggled to do) expect Floyd to show the NFL how good he really is.

Melvin Ingram- Alongside DeCastro going to the Steelers, Ingram was the best value in the first round of the draft. He was one of the major draft day falls apparently due to his 'T-Rex' arms. Who cares? Ingram was a sack machine at college and should have been a top 10 pick. Melvin Ingram is also in the company of pass rusher Jared Allen, one of the best in the game, in having short arms which in my opinion proves that his arm length has been unfairly criticised. Don't be surprised if you see double digits in Melvin Ingram's sack column and maybe even a defensive MVP.

I expect these two guys to be the biggest surprises for the Chargers. I did not mention the likes of Eric Weddle, Phillip Rivers and others as we already know they are great players and don't have much room to improve.

Players who will disappoint

Quentin Jammer- By the start of the season Jammer will be 33 and it is fair to say his best years are behind him. He has been a decent number 1 for the Chargers over the years after being selected 5th overall in 2002. Although he might not have been worth number 5 overall, he certainly was a first round player. Last year however he began to look vulnerable and showed a  lack of pace, he is no longer a number 1 cornerback as he is not physically fast enough to match up with younger recievers. He will likely see a large drop in performance and the likes of Antoine Cason will be expected to step up for the Chargers and become the new number 1 for the Chargers.

Corey Liuget- After being picked in the first round in 2011, the Chargers will want to see much more production from Liuget after a dissapointing rookie campaign. Although many people say it often takes at least 3 years for rookies to show their worth, I simply don't see a huge amount of talent in the defensive end. He showed very little on defence last year, and in my opinion has to go down as one of AJ Smith's less impressive picks.

These two players might impress however I had to choose the two who are most likely to not fulfill expectations. I don't expect some other Chargers players to perform like Larry English but his expectations are much lower.

Friday 25 May 2012

Three toughest games for the Chargers in 2012

The AFC West are due to play the AFC North and NFC South this year, both are very strong divisions and mean there are some very difficult matches for the Chargers this season. The Chargers will also face the Jets and Titans after finishing second in their division last year and will obviously play each of their AFC West rivals twice in the year. Here I will discuss the three toughest games for the Chargers.

1) Week 4 @Chiefs: Chiefs will likely be the Chargers main rival in the division this year in my opinion as I don't believe Manning will stay healthy or be at his previous best for Denver. If this is the case the Chiefs at the Arrowhead is a tough game which the Chargers need to win if they hope to finish top of the AFC West. I fancy the Chargers against the Chiefs in San Diego, but Arrowhead is a tough ground to play at and the Chiefs are a strong side coming back from injury last year.

2) Week 5 @Saints: The Saints will be good this year. I don't care if there is no Sean Peyton, as with Drew Brees at the helm (he will eventually get his big contract) the Saints can do absolutely anything. Many people are saying the Saints will have a similar attitude to that of the Patriots after spygate and we all know how great that season was for New England when they played anyone but Eli Manning. The Saints are unstoppable in the Superdome and were 8-0 at home last year. This is the game I am most worried about for the Chargers and our pass rushers must get to Drew Brees if we are to win this game.

3) Week 14 @Steelers: Again this is an away game and a very tough one. By week 14 in Pittsburgh it will be very cold and the Chargers passing game might well suffer. By week 14 it is really crunch time for most teams and this could be a very important game for Norv Turner who desperately needs to make the playoffs. The Steelers are admittedly getting older especially on defence so they might be a weaker team this year but you can never count them out, especially when at home. It will likely be a very tough game for Rivers and his fellow offensive players.

There are many other tough games for the Chargers, to name just a few: Week 3 vs Atlanta, week 11 @Denver and week 12 vs Baltimore.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

The Middle Linebacker Position

The Chargers have done a lot this year in free agency and one of the few positions they did not change was middle linebacker. This is because AJ Smith feels that they are strong at the position and although they aren't gaining massive headlines our middle linebackers seem very strong.

Donald Butler came into the 2010 draft as one of the better linebacker prospects in the draft. He was Drafted by the Chargers at pick 79 but suffered a season long injury and did not play in his first year. Last season Butler made his debut season for the Chargers and it was probably the best first season of all of the Chargers that year. He was an instant starter on defence and racked up 96 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and an interception. His first season was very impressive and at the age of 23 he can only get better. Expect him to start for San Diego for a very long time and his name soon will emerge to the NFL masses and become a feared name among offenses in the NFL. The only surprise for me really is why so few people know about this kid around the league!

One of the main reasons for Butler's success was the veteran leadership alongside him in Takeo Spikes. The 14 year Veteran and two time all-pro has been a consistent performer throughout his career racking up a huge 1345 tackles over his impressive career. Spikes unfortunately is known around the league as the guy who has never made the playoffs but I think that's been down to bad luck rather than his own skill. Takeo gives the defence some vital experience and toughness which helps young players like Butler improve their own skills from watching and learning from him. Although Spikes has only been in San Diego a year he is a vital component to our team and an invaluable source of experience.

At backup the Chargers have Jonas Mouton. Mouton has started in the exact same way as Butler did. Coming out of College he was considered a very good prospect at linebacker and was selected near the end of the second round as a hard working middle linebacker with plenty of ability. He was injured all of last season and will enter the league this year in a similar way to how Butler did last year. Many Charger fans have similarly high hopes for Mouton and expect him to take some of Spikes' snaps as the veteran takes a rest. Mouton will not be put under high amounts of pressure and attention from around the league, but will be put in a position to succeed which is just about the best possible scenario for him.

Overall the Chargers Middle Linebacker's appear to be a very solid group of guys with plenty of upside and might just surprise a few people this year. I expect Butler to become the Chargers' number one middle linebacker and sure up our often shaky run defence, alongside Spikes in the short term and Mouton in the long term.

Sunday 20 May 2012

What role will this years draft picks play?

Chargers had a very impressive draft in 2012 filling up their roster with players at positions of need as well as getting great value especially in the early rounds. But however well we drafted, not every rookie will make an impact on the team especially not in their first year. I will be discussing the likely roles of the rookies and their potential impacts:

1st round: Melvin Ingram- Ingram is the only rookie on the list who has the potential to make a huge impact on defence in his first year. I expect a minimum of 8 sacks and expect him to rack up similar numbers to Aldon Smith last year. He should play every passing down alongside Antwan Barnes at outside linebacker and will go into the rotation with Phillips Barnes and Johnson. He is also very versatile so don't be surprised if you see him lining up on the defencive line or at middle linebacker depending on injuries. Overall Ingram was a dream pick for the Chargers at 18 and should really have been a top ten pick, not that the Chargers will be complaining!

2nd round: Kendall Reyes- Reyes was also good value for the Chargers in the middle of the second round with him being at the bottom some first round draft boards. He will go into rotation with previous years first round pick Corey Liuget, Vaughn Martin and Luis Castillo. He will be given the chance to make an impact on defence and will need to impress early to get regular playing time. I expect Reyes to put in a decent season but probably wont make a massive impact. Look for him to improve over the next few years and become a consistent starter in a two or three years time.

3rd round: Brandon Taylor- This is where it gets really interesting. Taylor was an impressive safety for LSU and AJ Smith liked him enough to trade up in the third round to get him. He will be competing with Atari Bigby and Darrell Stuckey to start alongside Eric Weddle. The pick was definitely need for the Chargers and as Smith traded up it shows he definitely likes Taylor and might intend for him to start right away. I certainly hope he starts as Bigby is an average safety who is now in his thirties so has little upside. Expect Taylor to be starting in September so long as he has a decent training camp and he will get the chance to play alongside an all pro safety in Eric Weddle.

4th round: Ladarius Green- Green is an exciting young prospect at tight end. The Chargers will hope that he can be a long term replacement for Antonio Gates who will be considering retirement in the next two or three years. Green like Gates is a pass catching Tight End and can learn from one of the best Tight Ends in the game. I expect Green to be just a number three on the depth chart behind both experienced tight ends Gates and McMichael. He might feature on special teams and come on for the occasional two tight end set if Gates or McMichael need a rest or are injured.

5th round: Johnnie Troutman- Johnnie Troutman (guard) was picked by Smith as a long term pick. He will be injured the whole season and will be on IR for the season.

6th round: Forfeited in trade for Brandon Taylor in third round

7th round: David Molk (centre) and Edwin Baker (running back)- Molk was good value for the Chargers in round seven. He hasn't got amazing physical qualities which is what made him drop but is an intelligent lineman and won the Rimington award so cant be terrible. Assuming he has a decent camp he should make the final roster and will become backup to Nick Hardwick. Edwin Baker was the final pick. For me he is the least likely to make the roster as I expect the Chargers to add another running back in free agency and keep Brinkley as their young back. He would be used on special teams and is a good pass blocker for a half back but his rushing ability doesn't appear particularly special

Saturday 19 May 2012

Poll results

On the poll asking who would be the Chargers biggest rivals, votors decided Manning Broncos were the largest rival.

I understand the decision with a team which made the playoffs last year and swapping in Manning for Tebow. However I still think that the Chiefs who came second in the poll are our biggest rivals with depth and class at every position. The Raiders coming bottom with just two votes seemed correct and it seems fans think the division is between the other three teams. The Chargers are definately in the mix for the AFC West title and a run at the Championship and it appears the majority think the Broncos are our biggest threat.

Predicting Charger players in the top 100

After finding out that Philip Rivers was voted by the players on at 61 on the list of the best players in the NFL today, I will predict which other Chargers will be on the list and where.

Definite: Eric Weddle is the only definite for the Chargers to make the list. He gained all pro status last season and the only real question is will he be above Ed Reed? I doubt it myself as he has only put in one great season whereas Reed has put in many.

Possible: Antonio Gates was ranked ahead of Rivers in last years top 100 list and like Rivers he had a down year this year mainly because of injury. Gates has been a great Tight End for the Chargers and has been one of the best Tight Ends to play the game. I expect him to get on the list through his star reputation and deservedly so, but you can never be sure.

Doubtful: Ryan Mathews is the only other player for the Chargers who stands a chance of  making the list. He made the pro bowl for the first time and also had his first 1000 yard season. There have been some other players like McGahee who I don't think is as good as Rivers  but I feel that as McGahee was in the 90s, Mathews will not be on the list and will have to put in a good season this year to reach the list next year.

Friday 18 May 2012

Top 5 positions for the Chargers

Previously I wrote an article on the Chargers' weakest 5 positions and will now look on the positive side of the team.

1) Quarterback: I don't think anyone can argue Rivers is a top ten quarterback and maybe even in the top five. He is the Chargers' franchise guy and can win games all on his own. In the modern game it is vital to have a top class quarterback to win Championships judging by previous super bowl winners in the 21st century. Overall quarterback is probably the Chargers' strongest position overall and yes I know Rivers had 20 interceptions last year but he also had 4,600 yards and 27 touchdowns.

2) Tight End: Any team with Antonio Gates on their Roster is going to be extremely strong at the Tight End position. He is a future Hall of Famour and is an extremely safe pair of hands for Rivers in the end zone and on third down. If Gates can stay healthy Rivers will certainly have a bounce back year, as when healthy, Gates has as good a pair of hands as ever. The Chargers also have a strong set of backups at Tight End including Randy McMichael who has been a very useful backup for Gates over the years. Rookie Ladarius Green also has lots of potential and like Gates is an impressive pass catching Tight End.

3) Free Safety: Eric Weddle was one of the few real positives to come from 2011 after putting in an all pro season. He received a big contract in the previous offseason which was heavily criticised but the critics have been proven wrong and Smith's decision to give Weddle the big contract has proven to be an inspired decision. Weddle was tied on most interceptions in the league last year with 7 and was solid as a rock tackling whoever came near him. Weddle is now 'the man' on the Chargers defence and quarterbacks will be weary of throwing the ball anywhere near him like they are with Ed Reed.

4) Outside Linebacker: I didn't think I would ever be saying this at the end of last season but AJ Smith did a very impressive job in the offseason to improve the teams pass rush and linebacker core. With Shaun Phillips and 11 sack man from last year Antwan Barnes already on the Roster the Chargers went shopping in Free Agency and added Jarrett Johnson. Johnson has been dubbed by many as one of the most underrated run stopping linebackers in the league. He was very solid for the Ravens and a valuable player for them despite being overshadowed by Ray Lewis in his time at Baltimore. Johnson will be used primarily on rushing downs as the other three outside linebackers are mainly pass rushers especially Barnes and... Melvin Ingram was the Chargers' first round pick and was one of the shocks of the draft as he fell from a predicted top 10 pick to number 18 on draft day. He was such a surprising draft day plummet that AJ Smith and Norv Turner didn't even have him on their shortlists. Ingram should make an instant impact for the Chargers with a possible Aldon Smith type effect. Ingram will go into rotation with the other Linebackers providing the team with four potential starting outside linebackers.

5) Left Tackle: After loosing Marcus McNeil in the offseason the chargers desperately needed a dominant left tackle to defend Rivers' blindside. Jared Gaither who stepped in for the Chargers in the last few games, played like an all pro denying all the pass rushers a run at Rivers and because of this Chargers returned to winning ways.Hopefully the 6'9 monster of a man will carry on this impressive play after receiving a new contract by the Chargers in the offseason in an attempt to protect Rivers.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Le'Ron McClain and Jacob Hester

Le'Ron McClain was added by the Chargers in Free Agency and will bring a with him a great run and pass blocker as well as an accomplished rusher. This allows Jacob Hester to be possibly the best backup in the league as well as a super special teamer.

Le'Ron McClain was one of AJ Smiths more inspired pickups and will contribute on offense straight away. Charger fans will hope his addition will bring back a Lorenzo Neal type effect to the Chargers running game. He will provide great running holes for Ryan Mathews which Hester hasn't quite been big enough to do over the past few years. This will force more defenders to target the runner and leave receivers and tight ends wide open opening up the Chargers offense. LeRon McClain will also contribute some rushing experience as an occasional backup to Mathews as our backup in Brinkley is very inexperienced.

McClain's addition has freed up Hester who was also resigned to be a superb backup. He was also one of the leading special team tacklers on the team. Hester will be extremely important as a backup with good pass blocking and excellent slipping out the backfield and catching passes. He will go into the offense mostly on passing downs so probably third and long situations.

Overall I love this addition for the Chargers and they should benefit both on special teams and on offense.

Monday 14 May 2012

5 Weakest positions for the chargers

This is offseason was an impressive season for AJ Smith and he made a splash in both the draft and free agency. There however positions where we need to improve or hope the player steps it up this year:

1) Left Guard-  After the shocking retirement of pro bowl guard Kris Dielman the Chargers are in need of a left guard. He was fairly impressive last year when stepping in at the numerous times to cover injuries. Sandwiched between Gaither and Hardwick, Green will likely be targeted but if he can step up and get in some good blocks then the Chargers left side will be strong.

2) Right Tackle- Jeromey Clary will be starting for the Chargers this season which will worry San Diego Fans. Although he isn't on Rivers' blind side, he could be a big weakness on the line and Rivers will likely have to dodge a few linebackers running at him from the right. I can't see Ryan Mathews running towards the right side as often as he'd like as well unless Clary improves significantly. If he does play well however it will be great for Chargers with Gaither being very impressive last season on the blind side.

3) Defencive End- Neither right or left defencive end players for the chargers will induce fear in to many offencive lineman in the league. Vaughn Martin, Corey Liuget and Luis Castillo are the defencive ends. Last year Vaughn martin emerged as a pretty decent defencive player for the Chargers but never really blew anybody away. Corey Liuget has been a little disappointing thus far managing just 19 tackles and one sack. The Chargers will be hoping the 1st round pick can improve year on year but this year I cant really see him being a major force on defence. Luis Castillo only started one game for the chargers before being placed on IR for the rest of the season. He has however had a pretty decent career with the Chargers and is probably the most likely to succeed and brings important experience to the position.

4) Cornerback- The chargers have used plenty of first round picks on corner backs over the last few years looking out for a number 1 cornerback. Jammer has filled the role fairly well and I'm not too worried about him. Antoine Cason has looked vulnerable at times for the Chargers and has given up a few big gains. He hasn't been shocking, but neither has he been particularly strong. Number three is second year man Marcus Gilchrist who was targeted by the likes of Aaron Rodgers last year and was a bit of a liability. This could change with minicamp and more games under the belt but with two fairly inexperienced Corner Backs and Jammer being the wrong side of thirty, the chargers look quite weak at the position.

5) Strong Safety-  With Eric Weddle at Free Safety and Steve Gregory leaving, the strong safety position is very important for the chargers. AJ drafted LSU product Brandon Taylor who is an exciting prospect. The question however is whether he is ready to start on defence straight away. He will have experienced backup Atari Bigby and a great Free safety to cover him, so he has all the tools to succeed, I just hope his inexperience doesn't effect the chargers too bad.

(note this list is not in order just our 5 worst positions)

Sunday 13 May 2012

Which players will be playing safety for the Chargers?

One of the most interesting positions for the chargers is the strong safety position. With all pro Free Safety Eric Weddle playing one of the positions for sure, I will discuss the roles of the other three players most likely to play the safety position this year.

Darrell Stuckey was impressive on special teams last year and managed a few tackles starting on defense. He is growing as a player and at the age of 24 has plenty of years to improve. I cannot see him starting on defense as he doesn't seem to be experienced or quite talented enough yet. I do expect him to have more plays this year however probaly giving Eric Weddle a rest as he is the second best player at Free Safety.

Atari Bigby was picked up by the Chargers and will provide super bowl winning experience. He is my least favourite pickup for the chargers with his only real advantage for me being his experience. He is 30 however and wont be getting any better. He was poor for Seattle last year and has had problems with injuries consistently. I expect him to be backup strong safety but I hope Stuckey will play backup for both Strong Safety and Free Safety as he has much more potential.

Brandon Taylor was selected in the third round by the Chargers. The LSU product was the third best safety in the draft and should start straight away for the Chargers. He had an impressive career at LSU and will play opposite Eric Weddle who can cover Taylors mistakes and allow Taylor to learn from him. I expect Taylor to start and go into a bit of rotation with Bigby and Stuckey to give him a break.

All in all the strong safeety position seams to be fairrly weak for the Chargers and they will start a third rounder at the position. Eric Weddle will be relied upon to sure up the defense and protect from the mistakes made by the strong safeties.

Can Malcom Floyd be the new Vincent Jackson?

In the offseason the Chargers lost their number 1 receiver in Vincent Jackson. Jackson was the Chargers' go to guy and made some great plays. The Bucs outbid the Chargers and we were forced to let him go.

This is however the chance Malcom Floyd deserves to show how good of a receiver he really is. He is now the only tall strong receiver on the team and that is the exact type of receiver that Rivers likes to throw to. If he becomes the go to guy along with Gates like Jackson was then he should be in for a career season. It is not certain who will be top of the wide receiver depth chart but between Floyd and Meacham the chargers will effectively have two number two's. The chargers will hope that at least one of them makes big strides and becomes a true number one.

Floyd has been plagued with injury over his career and has consistently missed three or four games to injury with the exception of 2009. If Floyd wants to be considered a top receiver then he needs to stay healthy. If he does stay healthy though I would expect him to vastly improve on his five touchdowns from last year as he should take some of Jackson's touchdowns. Even though Jackson is a big play guy, Floyd is equally so. If you take a look at both their average gains they are both excellent and are around the top of the league. Floyd has averaged a staggering 19.6 yards per catch over the last two years which shows his big play ability and how Rivers likes to throw it deep to Floyd.

Overall Floyd should be much better this year than in previous years as he is given a chance to be a primary receiver. The offseason additions of Meacham and Royal should help spread the field and give Floyd more room to make a play. So long as he avoids injury Floyd should have a 8+ touchdown season and could break the 1000 yard gain  mark.

Saturday 12 May 2012

Where does Rivers rank among current NFL QBs?

Phillip Rivers had a down season last year but that appears to be an anomaly if you compare it to other years. I think it is a compliment to Rivers to say last year he had a down year as he gained 4,600 yards as and made 27 touchdowns.

Therefore my list of the top quarterbacks who are most the best in the league would go:
Peyton Manning
Eli Manning
Tony Romo

Obviously Brady, Brees and Rodgers rank above Rivers and Roethlisberger can also go in the list above due to his consistent success with the Steelers. Peyton Manning would have been above Rivers if he hadn't just had neck surgery. Apart from that I can't honestly say (and I'm not being biased) that another QB is better. Yes Manning won the Superbowl but has he really been a better quarterback than Rivers? Rivers has the fifth best passer rating of all time which i value highly and the reason Romo is on this list is because he is second.

All these quarterbacks are special players, some have performed better on the big stage than others and if you were grading it on playoff and Superbowl performances Romo and Rivers probably wouldn't even make the list while Eli would probably be top dog.

Can Eddie Royal be that final key for the charger offense?

In the offseason AJ Smith made a big splash after losing Vincent Jackson. One of the many impressive additions was Eddie Royal from rival AFC West team the Denver Broncos.

Eddie Royal was fantastic in his rookie season with a decent quarterback in Jay Cutler but in all honesty dropped off a little after that. Getting an even better quarterback than Cutler in Phillip Rivers should restart his career and I would expect him to double last years production at the very least.

Royal will be the chargers slot receiver and will have the speed and talent to go make the big plays for the chargers. He will provide an extra option for Rivers who won't have to just chuck it up to the big tall receivers like Floyd all the time as he will also be able to find those smaller speedier guys who can find separation like Royal.

Royals talent was recognised by many, most prominent of which was Mike Shannahan who tried very hard to get Royal to Washington. Instead Royal chose San Diego and he should be overjoyed to see number 17 throwing too him. This should completely transform his career after having Tim Tebow throwing to him last year.

It's not only offense that Royal should help out the chargers. He is also an excellent returner as the chargers learnt to their cost when Royal returned a punt and a kickoff  for a touchdown in one game. This will be very important for the Chargers who only managed to return one kick for a touchdown last year with Goodman against the Raiders. Even if he doesn't return the ball all the way to the end zone he should be able to get better field position for the offence which would massively help Rivers to get down the field.

All in all Royal was a very good under the radar pickup for the Chargers and should help Rivers get back from his disappointing season last year.

please feel free to comment and discuss.

Friday 11 May 2012

Big year for Ryan Mathews?

In the 2010 draft the chargers made a big trade in the 1st round to take their guy in Ryan Mathews. AJ Smith was so confident in Mathews' ability that they released future hall of famer Ladanian Tomlison the year they drafted him.

Mathews has struggled with injury so far in his career and it has definitely had a negative impact on his stats. He missed 4 games in his first season and 2 games last year. But if he can stay healthy he should be in for a big year for the following reasons:

1) He improved last year and you would expect him to carry on this trend. In 2010 his average gain was 4.3 yards but in 2011 he improved that to 4.9 which put him in the top 10 for starting running backs which is impressive for a 2nd year back. He had his first 1000 yard season which is always a good landmark for any back.

2) The departing of Mike Tolbert now means he will get much more carries and can be a premier back for the chargers. Tolbert also made a dent into Mathews' red zone touches so he will be able to almost double his touchdown count of 6 from last year assuming we don't pick up a top red zone back in free agency.

3) The LeSean McCoy effect. If you take a look at McCoy's stats then look at Mathews' you can notice one key similarity. That is their first two years. In McCoys first year he ran for 600 yards, with an average of 4.1. Mathews also ran for 600 yards with an average of 4.3. Their second years were also very similar with McCoy breaking the 1000 yard mark by 80 yards while Mathews got 1091 yards. And guess what McCoy did in his third year. Yep he became one of the best backs in the league with a mighty 17 touchdowns and 1,300 yards. If Mathews can continue his trend of copying McCoy then we could see a great season from him this year.

4) Mathews will be joined by two time pro bowl and all pro full back Le'Ron McClain. Le'Ron should open up new holes for Mathews which he never had before and could be another Lorenzo Neal type players for the chargers. This will make getting to Mathews a nightmare for defencive players.