2015 NFL Preview: San Diego Chargers

2015 NFL Preview: San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers have won 7, 8, or 9 games for five straight years. That’s the definition of mediocre. And if not for quarterback Philip Rivers, they likely would’ve won 3, 4, or 5 games during that span. The subject of several offseason trade rumors, Rivers returns in 2015 without a contract extension, and should the team be relocated to Los Angeles in 2016 it’s quite possible the 6-time Pro Bowler with a career quarterback rating of 95.7 is playing his final season for the franchise. He has started every game for the Bolts since 2006. Needless to say, wherever the Chargers play next year, not having No. 17 under center will make winning a lot more difficult. This team doesn’t look much different than the one that ended last season, meaning they are kinda meh. Here’s a preview of the 2015 San Diego Chargers.

Outlook: The 4-game PED suspension slapped on Antonio Gates mired an otherwise uneventful offseason for the Bolts. The 35-year-old tight end utilized “holistic” medicines to help revitalize his aging body, which are apparently frowned upon by the league’s drug czars. Without Gates, the vertical game could struggle, especially in the red zone. A rush game that ranked 30th a year ago is expected to improve with the addition of a high-profile rookie. The defense was underrated in 2014, ranking 9th in total yards and 4th in passing yards allowed. The unit has a chance to be even better if Manti Te’o proves he’s not a draft bust. Dethroning Denver in the AFC West and getting a playoff bye are on the Chargers’ wish list, but achieving one or both won’t be easy.

Later, dude: Ryan Mathews just couldn’t stay healthy during his 5-year tenure, so he joined a crowded backfield in Philly at a discount price. Wideout/returner Eddie Royal scored 15 touchdowns in 2013 and 2014, but inconsistent production and Chicago’s inflated 3-year, $15 million contract offer led to his exit. Safety Marcus Gilchrist was hotly pursued by the Jets in free agency despite recording only five interceptions in four seasons; he’s a solid player, but nothing special. Center Nick Hardwick retired after 11 warrior-like seasons and his leadership will be missed. Dwight Freeney racked only 4 sacks in two seasons, and at 33 is still a free agent. Safety Shareece Wright was a decent starter for two years, but the team is high on Jahleel Addae.

Welcome aboard: With Mathews gone, the running game will he handed to rookie Melvin Gordon, who was an absolute beast for Wisconsin in 2013-14, rushing for 4196 yards and scoring 44 total touchdowns. Gordon is talented, but Badgers’ running backs in the NFL are suspect: see Ron Dayne, Anthony Davis, Montee Ball. Guard Orlando Franklin started 63 of 64 games for Denver and it cost the Bolts $36.5 million to acquire his services; it should be money well spent. The wide receiving trio of Stevie Johnson, Jacoby Jones, and Austin Pettis doesn’t inspire confidence, but they bring depth to a position of need. Cornerback Patrick Robinson was very up and down in New Orleans, so his hold on a starting spot could be tenuous.

Over/Under wins – 8: Vegas is funny. Of course they went with 8. If Gordon is legit and takes pressure off Rivers, they will be dangerous. If not, it will be a long season.

Bet the Over