2013-14 San Diego Chargers Schedule and Keys to Success

Chargers Training Camp 2013With Training Camp underway (beginning on the 25th of July) the Chargers look to iron out any kinks they may have at this point in time. They also look to finalize their roster and pencil in their starters for the 2013-2014 NFL Season.

During this time of the NFL offseason is generally when fans and NFL Experts begin to make their season predictions about which team will be sitting atop each ‘Division’, and the even bigger task, atop each ‘Conference’. Many also begin their Fantasy Football season. San Diego signed some major additions to the team, however, they lost many other important players as well. This year’s Chargers team has a lot of questions to answer. Here is a look at the 2013-2014 San Diego Charger season and what to expect. 

We begin with the Pre-Season:

               Opponent:                            Date:

  • Week 1:              vs. Seattle                               Thursday, August 8th
  • Week 2:              @  Chicago                              Thursday, August 15th
  • Week 3:              @  Arizona                               Saturday, August 24th
  • Week 4:              vs. San Francisco                  Thursday, August 29th

Now is when the real fun begins. 2013-2014 Season Schedule:

  • Week 1:               vs. Houston                             Monday, September 9th
  • Week 2:               @ Philadelphia                       Sunday, September 15th
  • Week 3:               @ Tennessee                         Sunday, September 22nd
  • Week 4:               vs. Dallas                                 Sunday, September 29th
  • Week 5:               @  Oakland                             Sunday, October 6th
  • Week 6:               vs. Indianapolis                      Monday, October 14th  
  • Week 7:               @ Jacksonville                      Sunday, October 20th
  • Week 8:              ——————————— BYE———————————
  • Week 9:               @ Washington                       Sunday, November 3rd
  • Week 10:             vs. Denver                               Sunday, November 10th
  • Week 11:             @ Miami                                  Sunday, November 17th
  • Week 12:             @ Kansas City                       Sunday, November 24th
  • Week 13:             vs. Cincinnati                         Sunday, December 1st
  • Week 14:             vs. NY Giants                          Sunday, December 8th
  • Week 15:             @ Denver                                Thursday, December 12th
  • Week 16:             vs. Oakland                            Sunday, December 22nd
  • Week 17:             vs. Kansas City                      Sunday, December 29th

Are they a better/worse team than last year? : There’s no doubt about it, the Chargers are worse than they were last year. There are many reasons that they are not better than last year. They lost the most talented member of their O-line (Louis Vasquez) to the Denver Broncos. Denver also signed one of their leading pass rushers in Shaun Phillips. They lost both Takeo Spikes and Antwan Barnes, Spikes a very productive MLB and Barnes a decent pass rushing LB. They also lose both starting corners Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer. Jammer was also signed by the Denver Broncos. Also, former first round pick Melvin Ingram tore his ACL in May. The Chargers recently placed him on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list.

San Diego signed running back Danny Woodhead from the Patriots, who will most likely play in to be San Diego’s third down back. Max Starks, King Dunlap and Rich Ohrnberger were the most notable offensive lineman signings. They added a valuable piece at cornerback, where Derek Cox was signed this offseason and will help a weak cornerback squad after losing both starters. The Chargers also signed former Pro-Bowler Dwight Freeney to a two year deal. The Question is, “does he still have gas in the tank?”

While they did have some key signings this offseason, other than Freeney the Chargers did not sign any ‘Big Name’ player to get excited about, which is why I say the Chargers don’t have an improved roster from last year.

Rookie Impact: D.J. Fluker (San Diego’s first round pick) will have a huge impact on the offensive line, but the Chargers lost too many of their defensive playmakers, which is where Manti Te’o comes in. Manti Te’o will have a major impact on San Diego’s defense. The Chargers were so excited about Te’o that they traded up to grab him in the second round of this years draft. Te’o was a tackling monster at Notre Dame and if he can carry that into his NFL career, maybe he still has hope of being a Pro-Bowl linebacker.

Ever since being drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 Draft, Matthews has been a bust.

Ever since being drafted in the first round of the 2010 Draft, Matthews has been a bust.

Player on the Hot Seat: Ryan Matthews and Philip Rivers both are on the hot seat. However, more-so in favor of Ryan Matthews than Rivers. Ryan Matthews was chosen in the 2010 NFL Draft. He was chosen in the first round, with the twelfth pick. With the glory days of LT (Ladainian Tomlinson) behind them, the Chargers needed a new, exciting running back. Ever since then Matthews has been a fumble machine and has failed to stay healthy. As a rookie he suffered a high-ankle sprain and began his fumble reputation. Last year he broke both collarbones and was still a fumble machine. Matthews said, ”Football’s always been fun but I think I put too much pressure on myself the last few of years trying to be someone I’m not.” He spoke that way after putting pressure on himself to be the next LT. “I think that’s where I got my mindset, that I had to be him, I had to do everything he was doing. I had to score 28 touchdowns in a year and I had to rush for 2,000 yards”, Matthews stated. He says he will try and have more fun this year, and not take things as seriously as he did in years previous. If he can do what he did in 2011 when he went to the Pro Bowl –hopefully even better–  and stay consistent in years to come, he will keep his starting spot and most likely stay with San Diego for most of his career.

Worse position on roster: The worse position on this squad is obviously the offensive line. One of the major reasons Philip Rivers is in the ‘slump’ that he is, is because of the protection he gets from his offensive line. After losing Vasquez to Free Agency, their offensive line doesn’t have the talent it used to. The most apparent position battle is at left tackle. Where Max Starks and King Dunlap have been fighting for the starting spot. The team needs D.J. Fluker to also step in immediately and give his teammates a boost with his massive frame. The key to Philip Rivers success this year is in the offensive line and if they can keep him protected and give him time to throw the ball.

My Prediction: A 9-7 season. The Chargers finish third in the AFC West behind the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos. The Denver Broncos remain atop of the AFC West and earn a playoff berth. The Chiefs and Chargers fight for the number two spot, the upper hand goes to Kansas City. Kansas City have made major improvements this offseason, and with an upgrade at quarterback with Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles won’t have to be their whole offensive game plan this year. The best case scenario is if Philip Rivers is able to get consistent time in the pocket and Ryan Matthews is able to stay healthy. They are the key to this year. If they are healthy and are playing at the All-Pro level they are capable of playing at, the Chargers may be able to pull off a 11-5 season with the possibility of reaching the playoffs. Only time will tell.

 

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