With the preseason finally over, the San Diego Chargers are preparing to start the regular season this upcoming Monday night against the Houston Texans. Four weeks ago, there were some big questions about this San Diego team. Fans were concerned with the team’s lack of both passing and rushing offense because the offensive line was so terrible last year. To improve on this the Bolts drafted lineman D.J. Fluker and used free agency to add some others. On defense, the main concerns don’t lie with bad players, but with inexperienced ones. Of the four projected starters on the secondary, only two had ever been NFL starters. Finally, the Charger special teams unit was notorious last season for allowing big returns on punts and kickoffs.
After four weeks of preseason play, it is time to look at the final strengths and weaknesses for this San Diego unit.
Strength: Defensive line
The young and extremely talented defensive line will be the highlight of the team for this upcoming season. Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes both have the potential to be Pro Bowl players if they aren’t good enough already. Cam Thomas is also a solid nose tackle that will be able to plug up the middle on runs. The three together should put tons of pressure on quarterbacks and cause problems for even the best offensive lines. In addition to the defensive line, Dwight Freeney has shown flashes of his old self this preseason. He has been pass rushing like the player he was five years ago when he was considered one of the best defensive linemen in football. He could combine with Reyes and Liuget to create and unstoppable sacking trio.
Strength: Running game
This is not a typo. The Chargers will run the ball well this season, just wait and see. Ryan Mathews has looked great this preseason and may actually live up to his potential after all. The offensive line can be shaky against the pass, but Fluker and the other linemen have been opening up holes for Mathews and this will continue once the season begins. Aside from Mathews, the Chargers will also have Danny Woodhead to carry the ball and catch passes out of the backfield. Woodhead is one of the hardest working backs in the NFL and will surely be able to give the Chargers a Darren Sproles type player that the Chargers used to have paired with LaDainian Tomlinson.
Weakness: Special Teams
Like last season, the special teams for San Diego have been playing terribly this preseason. The Bolts have been allowing opposing teams to return the ball for great field position still, but the problems don’t stop there. The Bolts have been muffing punts and even more surprisingly, having their punts blocked. Even though special teams are the least important when alongside offense and defense, it is still necessary for a good football team.
Weakness: Passing Game
It is really strange to put a passing game led by Philip Rivers as a weakness for a team. In his career, he has been one of the best passers in the NFL. However, it is time to face the facts. Last season, San Diego didn’t have a good passing game at all. On top of that, San Diego is now without Danario Alexander (the Chargers best receiver last season). Add to this that Philip Rivers has had a passer rating of 48.3 this preseason, and we come up with no positive aspect of the passing game. In order for San Diego to have be remotely successful, things need to drastically change. One thing that should help will be the return of Malcom Floyd, but it probably won’t be enough.