Gridiron Blitz: San Diego Chargers Season Preview

The next team up on our Gridiron Blitz is the San Diego Chargers

Music to listen to: Obsession (No Es Amor) by Frankie J featuring Baby Bash

When I started this, I was thinking about having P.O.D., who I’m a fan of, but I decided to go with Frankie J. I don’t understand why he isn’t a bigger artist. He can sing, dance, play the guitar and other talents. The music industry confuses me sometimes.

Current State: Another excellent regular season, another home playoff loss. The Chargers are becoming the Groundhog Day team of the NFL.

When looking at San Diego its about good news against bad news. For example:

Good news: The Chargers have made the playoffs each of the past five years

Bad news: They haven’t even made a Super Bowl in that period

Good news: They have had several 12-win seasons and had home-field advantage in playoff games.

Bad news: They have lost three home playoff contests, including last year to the Jets

Good news: They have been able to keep most of its core players over the five years.

Bad news: San Diego has become holdout central with up to three top-line players missing various periods of training camp this year.

Good news: Norv Turner has been the head coach for the past five years

Bad news: Norv Turner has been the head coach for the past five years

Biggest Offseason Change: The Chargers lost arguably its most productive player in franchise history when LaDanian Tomlinson decided to take his talents to the New York Jets. While you may look at this as an addition by subtraction because of Tomlinson’s diminishing skills, he was still a running back that could gain yards and was reliable as a pro.

Tomlinson’s exit may be the first of many over the next two years for San Diego as players such as Marcus McNeill, Shawne Merriman, Darren Sproles and Vincent Jackson are all trying to negotiate long-term contracts with the team.

This may be the last big run that the Chargers have before they regress with the loss of major talent.

Uniform Grade: Not to get all Chris Berman on you but the Chargers do have the best uniforms in football. Whether they go with the older uniforms with the powder blur and gold or to the current edition of navy blue, they all look great. Grade: A+

Best Player: This honor has been three different players over the five year period discussed earlier in the post. At first it was Tomlinson, than Merriman had it for a while but clearly the distinction has been made to Philip Rivers.

He has all of the tools to be the top quarterback in the league. He can make every throw, has tremendous accuracy, has toughness and the trust of his teammates.

I must admit that I didn’t see this development taking place when Philips was drafted out of North Carolina State. I saw the funky throwing motion and thought that he wouldn’t make a good pro. I overlooked two things. First, he was accurate and that’s the most important physical tool for a quarterback. Second, he won all of his bowl games and excelled in them, meaning that he was a winner who played his best in the top games of the year.

Now, outside of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, he may be best quarterback in the league. I would throw Aaron Rodgers in there and that’s the top-five for me right there.

Most Important Player: San Diego is going to score plenty of points with Rivers, Jackson, Antonio Gates, Sproles and the entire offense.

However if the Chargers want to finally make the Super Bowl with this regime, the defense has to return to a top-five unit and the men for that task are Merriman and defensive tackle Luis Castillo.

Merriman has diminished significantly as a player the past two years and while injuries have played a part in it, distractions such as his off the field incidents, the positive steroid test and unhappy contract status have all played a part in his ineffectiveness. He has to get his act together for the Chargers.

Castillo has also been pinched for steroids but his issues have been more about injuries as well.

Both men came into the league at the same time in 2005 and were Pro Bowlers their first two years but since then have been below their standards.

Best Case: Win the AFC West. Win the AFC. Finally make the Super Bowl

Worst Case: The past five years

Coaching: I’m going to include A.J. Smith, the general manager, in this discussion along with head coach Norv Turner.

They have done most of the things you can hope for as a fan. They’ve developed a consistent unit of players that have been in the best position to win playoff games.

The losses in the playoffs aren’t completely Turner’s fault. He could have probably made some better play calls or had better game plans but you can say that for any football loss.

I look at Turner and am uninspired. However, I don’t know who you can replace him with to take the team to another level.

Sometimes it just comes down to the players.

First memory of team: I remember the 1994 team winning the AFC Championship game over the Steelers in Pittsburgh and realizing that the San Francisco 49ers were going to kick the crap out of them in the Super Bowl. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

I did like the running back on that team, Natrone Means. He had a cool name.

Didn’t like Junior Seau. Seemed too smug to me.

Schedule: The Titans will have to deal with Denver, Oakland and Kansas City in the division.

The home games are against Jacksonville, Arizona, New England, Tennessee and San Francisco. The away games are at Seattle, St. Louis, Houston, Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

City Nicknames: The only one that I could find was “America’s Finest City.” That’s terrible.

Fantasy Focus: Every skill position on offense should be looked at. They can average close to 30 points a game this season.

Overall Outlook: The Chargers are going to win the AFC West, that’s a given. They have an offense that’s good enough to win a Super Bowl. They have a defense that’s good enough to win a division. Combine those two together and it may be year six of the unsuccessful attempt to reach the Super Bowl era.

Final Record: 12-4

Gridiron Blitz 2010 Season Previews:

AFC East:

Buffalo Bills

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Miami Dolphins

AFC North:

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Baltimore Ravens

Pittsbirgh Steelers

AFC South:

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Houston Texans

Tennessee Titans

AFC West

Denver Broncos

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