COMMENTARY | The San Diego Chargers have shown that they can’t compete with the best teams in the NFL, and for good reason — they’re not very good. That’s why it’s time to start looking at what they need to do in order to improve in every facet of the game. Fans may expect more from the Bolts after seeing them be competitive for so long during the mid-to-late ’00s, but now it’s time for some major changes.
Here are five moves the Chargers need to make to prepare for next year and beyond:
5. Move on from Norv Turner and A.J. Smith
In the most obvious move, the Chargers need to move on from the regime that squandered perhaps the greatest talent the team has seen from 2006-2009. After a 14-2 season under former head coach Marty Schottenheimer, Turner was handed the keys to a proverbial Ferrari and the Bolts underperformed and failed to meet expectations. It’s time to move on from the people responsible for the product on the field during that stretch.
It’s a no-brainer and should have been done after last season’s debacle, an 8-8 utter failure.
4. Give Philip Rivers some weapons
There is a large contingent in Southern California clamoring for Philip Rivers to lose his job. He has struggled to one of his worst seasons statistically without question, but he’s had virtually no help. Malcom Floyd has been his only consistent target, and Denario Alexander looks like a nice midseason signing. But he’s going to need more help in the wake of Vincent Jackson’s departure and an injury to Vincent Brown.
If Rivers continues to struggle after he gets help, then it will be time to look at potential replacements at quarterback. Since he’s signed through 2015, it will be at least that long before any real thought should be given to that idea. Pro Bowl signal-callers don’t come easy, and despite the issues he’s had this year, Rivers has proven he has the potential to be an elite player.
3. Revamp the offensive line
One of the reasons for Rivers’ down year is the fact that his offensive line hasn’t kept him upright in pass protection. A prime example of this was during Sunday’s loss to the Denver Broncos. Jeremy Cleary got beat by Von Miller repeatedly and forced Rivers to make poor decisions and turn the ball over.This will be par for the course until the offensive line’s issues are addressed.
2. Unleash Ryan Mathews
Ryan Mathews has let his coaching staff down on numerous occasions with fumbling issues, but his talent is worth giving him more opportunities to showcase what he can do. Injuries have played a role in his limited duty, but when he’s right, the Chargers need to find ways to get him the ball. He’s a versatile back that can run outside and inside with good hands. He’s also greatly improved his pass protection skills.
1. Lock up the young talent
A.J. Smith has taken a lot of criticism over his drafts, but he’s had some good young talent emerge. Kendall Reyes, Melvin Ingram, Mathews and Eric Weddle are a few names that have been solid playmakers for the Bolts.
The Chargers can’t let these players walk, and they have to be a part of the plan moving forward. Continuity is key to build a championship-caliber team. They need to do everything in their power to ensure that these players stay in San Diego.
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the San Diego Chargers and the NFL as a Southern California-based sports journalist, editor and blogger. He contributes regularly to SB Nation and Examiner.com and is also the Editor of Sports Out West.