With the most recent loss to the Miami Dolphins, the San Diego Chargers are now incredible long shots to make the playoffs. Their record may not seem to bad compared to the other wildcard competitors at 4-6, but the team’s schedule is definitely not favorable in the upcoming games. The Bolts still have games to play against the Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, and Kansas City Chiefs (twice), so it is very unlikely that the team will finish in a playoff spot, let alone above .500.
With a playoff spot seeming just out of reach, now is the perfect time for the team to officially begin rebuilding for the next season. The new focus should be on developing the current players so that the team can be real contenders next year.
The offense is already above average compared to the rest of the league and is only going to get better when players such as Keenan Allen, D.J. Fluker, and Vincent Brown gain experience throughout the season. The team should also begin experimenting with different offensive schemes to try and give the Chargers more offensive options and make the attack consistently effective. At the moment, the offense is relying too much on shorter passes over the middle and has become less threatening as defenses have started to defend against them.
In terms of the defense, a great deal of work needs to be done before the Chargers are ready to really compete against the top teams in the NFL. Some of the problems will go away when the incredibly inexperienced players grow into the roles they clearly weren’t ready for. Now that the playoffs are out of reach, the Chargers should mix up the secondary to try and find either better players or better defensive plays.
The Chargers have yet to have an effective pass defense so there is really no downside in giving other athletes a chance. Derek Cox is one player who has consistently struggled to earn the big contract he signed this offseason. Maybe its time to let some of the unproven players have some time to step up and win his spot.
One problem that the Chargers face being a rebuilding team is that some of the best players on the team are getting to the later parts of their careers. Philip Rivers (31) and Antonio Gates (33) are not players that can be a part of a slow rebuilding process. For this team to really get the most out of the talent they currently have, they need to be playoff ready in one or two seasons. If it takes any longer than that, Rivers will be on the decline and Gates might even be retired if he can’t stay healthy.
In the offseason, the team should do everything they can to make themselves big time contenders; otherwise it might be a while before the Bolts make a run for the Lombardi Trophy.