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San Diego Chargers Team Capsule

July 15, 2008 | By Andy Goldstein | comment on this post

What Went Right

After LaDainian Tomlinson’s record-setting 2006 season, it’s inevitable that last year would feel like a huge letdown. It kind of did, but Tomlinson did lead the league in yardage again. Also, his 18 total scores are nothing to sneeze at, even if it was a 13 touchdown drop from 2006. On the plus side, Tomlinson didn’t fumble at all! Seriously, he’s making a claim to be considered the best running back of all time. Antonio Gates had another impressive campaign. He nearly hit 1,000 yards and ten scores. The receiving game was also bolstered by the addition of Chris Chambers, who averaged 63 yards and almost a half a score a game once he was put into the starting lineup.

What Went Wrong

Philip Rivers was one of the more popular pre-season sleeper picks at quarterback. He was supposed to use Gates and his ragtag crew of wide outs to firmly claim a spot in the top ten quarterback rankings. Well, that didn’t quite happen. In fact, Rivers regressed in every major statistical category. His struggles were due, to some degree, to the inferior wide out crew. Once Chambers entered the starting lineup, Rivers had four of six games with a quarterback rating over 100. It goes without saying that Vincent Jackson is probably more of a third wide out rather than a top option.

Off-season Outlook

The Chargers have one of the most talented rosters in the league, so they obviously didn’t feel the need to upgrade the offense all that much. Jeremy Newberry and L.J. Shelton add offensive line depth, which is good for Tomlinson, but the impact players are already on the team.

Draft Recap

The biggest worry for Tomlinson owners surrounds the fullback position. The now released Lorenzo Neal was certainly the best blocking fullback in the league, but the team selected Jacob Hester in the second round to fill Neal’s shoes. On one hand, Hester will be an offensive weapon for the Chargers. He’s got some quickness and is a reliable receiving option. Unfortunately, he’s not projected to be the best NFL blocker. Whether he works within the offense is anyone’s guess, but there’s certainly reason to worry about Tomlinson maintaining his torrid pace.

State of the Team

Quarterbacks – Rivers is locked into this slot. Billy Volek has had success when starting, and is worth a waiver pick if Rivers is injured or struggles, but there’s no reason to expect any shakeup for the signal caller position.

Running Backs – Everyone knows about Tomlinson. The big question will be who takes over the primary back-up role with Michael Turner out in Atlanta. Hester might be the early frontrunner, and he’ll most definitely be on the field more, but the Chargers also drafted Marcus Thomas out of Texas-El Paso. We might see a situation similar to Denver when Mike Anderson played fullback and probably could have been a starter, but maintained that position even when a backup came in. Of course, that’s all speculation. Any Tomlinson owner (especially those in dynasty leagues) should keep a close watch on who picks up the junk late carries.

Wide Receivers – Chambers is a definite starter. The other side could get interesting. Jackson will probably get the early nod, but don’t be surprised to see Craig Davis seeing more field time and more looks before the season gets too old.

Tight Ends – And God created Antonio Gates and it was good. Umm, well, that’s basically true.

Defense/Special Teams – In many scoring systems, the Chargers were the top scoring defensive unit. They have playmakers on every level and can create turnovers, sacks, and defensive scores at will. If we cared even a little about defenses, we might even care about this team.

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