Last season the San Diego Chargers had one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Among all 32 NFL teams, they came in 31st with total yards. Essentially, they couldn’t move the ball down the field. Unfortunately for this offense, they haven’t made any radical changes that might suggest the Chargers will be significantly better. However, they do have some players with talent who should (hopefully) play better then last season. Here are the five most important players to this season’s offense.
This really goes without saying. On every offense that doesn’t have an unbelievable running back, the quarterback is the most important player. As Ryan Mathews has never been in the same sentence as incredible, Rivers is the number one asset on this team. He also has had the history to back this up. Before 2011, he was in contention to be a top 5 quarterback in the NFL. The past two seasons, he would probably be placed in the ladder half of the league. If Rivers doesn’t play in the pre-2011 form, the Bolts don’t make the playoffs. In fact, the Chargers will be lucky win 7 games.
Ryan Mathews is not the second best player on this offense. However, he has the next most important role: running back. He has underperformed ever since joining the organization and the Chargers have struggled because of this. If he doesn’t have a good season then the running game is weak for San Diego. If the Chargers can’t run the ball, then they can only rely on the passing game to advance the football. If an NFL team plays predictable football, the opposing defenses can play primarily passing formations and easily contain them.
Last season, Danario Alexander had a breakout year. He became Phillip Rivers’ favorite target and scored 7 touchdowns in only 10 games. This season he will have the same role as the favorite target. Although this time around, defenses will be expecting more from Alexander so he will draw tougher coverage. In order for the Chargers to be successful, Alexander will have to again step into this role and succeed. Additionally, Alexander must stay healthy the entirety of the season. He is known as an injury prone player, and without him, the Chargers passing game will not have a major threat.
Aside from Tony Gonzales (who seems to be a robot), Antonio Gates has the most career touchdowns of all tight ends. He is still considered one of the best tight ends in the NFL and causes problems for any defense he faces. This season, Gates must continue this trend. His age and injury prone nature cannot get the best of him and he must be the main target in the red zone. If he can play at the level he normally plays at, he will combine with Danario Alexander for a great passing attack.
People reading this will question Max Starks being on this list. Some people will even ask who Starks is. To be honest, those questions probably should be asked. However, the new left tackle for the Chargers will have a huge impact on this team. To be clear impact is not a positive adjective, it is neutral. Starks is not one of the best players on this team, not even the best linemen. However, he is playing the most important role on the line. It is his job to protect Phillip Rivers’ blindside. His success or failure will determine whether or not Rivers even has a chance to succeed this season. His success or failure will determine whether or not the Chargers can succeed this season. He may not be the center of attention, but you can’t complete a puzzle if you are missing a piece.