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Friday September 5, 2008 8:10 pm

NFL Preview: San Diego Chargers

Posted by Raymond Leon Categories: NFL,

LaDainian Tomlinson running it for the San Diego Chargers

2007 RECORD: 11-5

Overview: The San Diego Chargers opened the season 1-3 and the city of San Diego wanted to run Marty Schottenheimer’s replacement at head coach, Norv Turner, out of town. Turner turned around the season quickly, eventually managing to achieve a 10-2 record for the remainder of the season. In the end, Turner led the Chargers to an AFC West division title. During the playoffs, the Bolts defeated the Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts before losing to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Turner set the bar high in his first season and now has to live up to it. 

Offense: The Chargers offensive unit is one that play-callers would dream of working with. The offense has shown it’s extreme versatility since the arrival of veteran receiver Chris Chambers halfway through the 2007 campaign. Philip Rivers, love him or hate him, has evolved into an above-average quarterback and has shown his ability to lead this offense. The rush stats for the Chargers were tremendous last year averaging 127.4 yards a game and landing at 7th place overall in the league. The running game could be susceptible to a decline in 2008 due to the losses of All-Pro FB Lorenzo Neal and the main back up to Tomlinson, Michael Turner, who left for the Atlanta Falcons. Neal was LT’s favorite and most reliable lead blocker and was solely responsible for opening up many opportunities for the star running back. The team traded up twice to obtain FB Jacob Hester who is expected to be LT’s main backup. The 2008 season will also see the return of Antonio Gates who underwent toe surgery in the offseason. 

Defense: The Charger’s defense took tremendous strides in the 2007 season as it saw the emergence of cornerback Antonio Cromartie who led all CB’s in interceptions and produced two touchdowns himself. Stephen Cooper also added to the defensive effort in San Diego amassing a whopping 108 tackles. This just in; Wwhile I was in the process of writing this article, Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman suffered a severe knee injury. Merriman has two torn ligaments in his left knee. If surgically repaired, it could sideline the All-Pro for the entire 2008 season. On the other hand, if Merriman decides to continue to play he could risk possibly ending his career. If the Chargers lose Merriman their defensive unit could be drastically altered. He has made the Pro Bowl in each of his three NFL seasons and has 39½ sacks in that span, more than any other NFL player. 

Rookies: FB Hester of LSU will be a great addition to the Chargers already powerful backfield. Hester was a dominant back in LSU totaling 1,103 yards, 12 TD’s and a monstrous 4.9 yards per carry average. The Chargers first pick in the draft, Antoine Cason, will also be an impact player in his rookie season. Cason will be appearing in the nickel and dime packages that the Chargers run, attempting to fill the hole that Drayton Florence left. 

Prediction: This ones easy, even with the possible loss of Merriman from an already dominant Defensive unit, the chargers are set to win the AFC. The Chiefs are in transition, they will be busy trying to rebuild their team. The Raiders are supposed to be better this year but will still continue to have troubles stopping Tomlinson, and the Broncos will come close but probably fall to a team that is even more well-rounded than they are. The Chargers look like the team to beat in the AFC West, and the target is on their back’s. 2008 record prediction 12-4 (oh, and did I mention that their overall strength of schedule is 31st? Yeah, that’s second to the easiest.)



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