San Diego Chargers 2012, or Shit That Went Off The Rails
This is mostly just me writing about this season for my own sake more than anything else, but whatever.
If you ever wondered if the old saying of “games are won and lost in the trenches” is true, this team, this year, is a perfect example of it. The problems of the last few years, IE Norv Turner’s mediocre coaching, AJ Smith’s drafting and shitty treatment of players, among other things, finally came to a head.
AJ Smith is a pretty bad GM. While he did help turn the team into a SB contender for a few years, the Chargers have had a terrible inability to hang on to talent in the long term. Letting go of Michael Turner, Ladanian Tomlinson (I know he was old and washed up, but still), Darren Sproles, Igor Olshansky, Vincent Jackson etc and not being able to replace said talent came back to hurt the team. His refusal to spend high end draft picks on offensive linemen, instead blowing them on guys who were frequently too injured to play (Buster Davis, Larry English), or just doing stupid shit with them (getting Jacob Hester, a fucking fullback in the SECOND ROUND in 2008, while Lorenzo Neal, the guy they cut, went to Baltimore that year and played in the AFCCG) left the team with a piss poor offensive line.
No wait, calling them a bad o-line is an insult. They fucking SUCKED this year. The only one of the bunch who deserves a job going into next year is right guard Louis Vasquez. The Chargers pinned a lot of their hopes on Jared Gaither, a man of considerable size and skill, but very questionable work ethic, to not revert back to being a malingerer. Gaither was cut by the Chiefs late in the year, stepped in and played brilliantly the last stretch of the season protecting the blindside of Philip Rivers. Well, he reverted back to form this year and ended up being lazy as fuck. He is absolutely HATED by his teammates and will mostly likely be cut in the offseason.
Replacing him was an underdrafted free agent in Mike Harris from UCLA, and while he played respectable for the first couple of weeks, his carridge turned back into a pumpkin against the Falcons. Harris was terrible and had absolutely piss poor technique in pass protecting this year. on the right side, Jeromey Clary has been one of the worst fucking right tackles i’ve ever seen play. He’s fat, slow, can run block decently enough, but can’t pass block to save his life. A telling game about how much he fucking sucks was the second game against Denver:
Rivers saw Von Miller was going to come in on the right side, shifted his protection… and Clary just about let Miller go unmolested into the quarterback’s face. Fucking retarded. Clary is garbage and I HOPE the new general manager finally brings in a real RT to wrestle the position away. He must have naked pictures of Turner/Smith to have kept his job so long.
As for the rest of the line, Hardwick is a good center, but he’s old and thought about following Kris Dielman out of football last year. I’m thinking that he will probably retire. Tyronne Green is a backup at best and should’ve stayed that way.
Philip Rivers had the worst season of his career; he only threw for just over 3500 yards and 26 TDs against 15 picks. He made some of the most baffling fucking decisions i’ve ever seen him try to make, mostly because I think, whether he admits it or not, that he knew the team around him isn’t good and he tried to force things to make something happen. He coughed up the most fumbles of his career by far. However, he played relatively well down the stretch, and I know that he has done well even with mediocre talent at receiver (see: the entire 2010 season when he led the NFL in most passing categories despite Vincent Jackson and Antonio Gates missing most of and much of the year respective – he was basically throwing to Malcom Floyd and scrubs raised from the practice squad). He is a purely pocket passer, and it makes getting an offensive line that can, you know, block that much more critical.
The team’s running game was the most anemic it’s been since before Ladanian Tomlinson was drafted. Ryan Mathews is a frustrating character; he had a lot of talent and i’ve seen flashes of greatness from him. He’s dynamic when healthy, has good moves, and while he isn’t a home run hitter you’d expect from a first round selection, he’s a tough runner. His problem is that he can’t stay healthy; he busted BOTH clavicles his year. He also had big issues fumbling the ball. I know us Charger fans were spoiled by LdT (who fumbled only 27 times in nine years – handling the ball thousands of times here), but it was an issue. Jackie Battle is a decent power running, if somewhat uninspiring, and Ronnie Brown was okay as a third down back but a far cry from what Darren Sproles was.
At wideout, the team is actually relatively well off. It burned my ass to see Vincent Jackson go to Tampa Bay (where he proceeded to have the best year of his career), but the team is well off at wideout. Denario Alexander… man, it’s a shame this guy has had such issues with his knees because he is super talented. He’s a big, tall wideout who fights for the ball in the air and runs very good, crisp routes. If not for the issues with his knees, this guy would be a fringe #1 or a #2 for almost any team in the league. Malcom Floyd is a reliable wideout and has been for years, and Vincent Brown, who looked very good in 2011 and missed 2012 thanks to a busted ankle in preseason against Dallas, will come back in 2013 and probably catch on. He played very well and while not huge, he showed flashes of being the kind of receiver the Chargers have favoured in the past.
Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal were minor and major flops, respectively. Royal outright sucks; while he’s quick, he ran bad routes and was injured most of the year. I wouldn’t be unhappy to see him gone. At all. Meachem, on the other hand… he didn’t play very well at all, but again, the team’s ability to throw deep was pretty much neutered by the awful o-line. He is NOT a #1 receiver, probably never will be, but he can he a big-play threat if the team gets a line that can protect the QB long enough to deliver the deep ball.
The defense. Aside for cornerback, which is the team’s most glaring issue here, the defense was very solid. After suffering through the likes of Ted Cottrell (who frankly is more charming when playing with his mantitties than coaching the defense) and Greg Manusky (who had the worst third down defense in the NFL since 1995 in 2011), I appreciate his more aggressive, blitzing defense. The team does need a better pass rush, but additions like Abrayo Franklin and Jarret Johnson, as well as Donald Butler really coming on at inside linebacker has solidified the unit into being very good against the run.
Secondary is a critical issue for this team. I loved Quentin Jammer in his prime, but he’s old and become incredibly slow, getting torched easily or getting dinged for dumb penalties.The other corners fucking suck. Cason has shown some potential, the rest of the group can’t cover or even tackle well. Eric Weddle is the only one of the bunch who deserves to keep his spot going into the season.
I’m relatively optimistic about the new regime change. Mike McCoy strikes me as a very smart man; he adapted his offense to Tim fucking Tebow in 2011 and actually won some games, and then restructured it for Manning this year. The fact that he brought in Ken Wisenhunt and kept Pagano is also a very smart decision; for one it shows the organization is willing to go all-in for attempting to help Philip Rivers out, and secondly, it shows that McCoy, despite being an offensive coach, is willing to delegate playcalling duties to an actual OC and coach the rest of the team, unlike Norv. (Ironically, Rob Chudzinski in Cleveland brought in Turner to be the OC for the exact same reason) The defense is a couple of pieces away from being a rock-solid unit, and as I mentioned earlier, there’s nothing wrong with Rivers that getting an o-line that can block won’t cure – he’s already shown he can win some games even with a garbage receiver corps, and what the Chargers have right now is way above what he had in that 2010 season.
This team needs to blow a lot of money in free agency and draft picks, preferably high-end selections, on the offensive line and CB. I’d be very happy with getting Jake Long at left tackle, since I think he’s done with the Dolphins, though unfortunately he’s had injury issues over the last couple of years which is why i’m somewhat hesitant. Similar thing with Sebastian Vollmer of the patriots (who I think is going to be franchised tagged anyway)
The team is mediocre right now. But they are emphatically NOT in ‘blow everything up and start all over’ mode. A good draft or two and this team will be a playoff contender again in a couple of years.