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Chargers’ ability to mesh old and new serves them well

Kansas City Chiefs v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

A year ago at this time, the Chargers had neither a coach or a general manager, and they had just finished a season in which they finished six games behind first-place Denver.

Now, they are less than 48 hours away from a wild-card game at Cincinnati with a first-year head coach (Mike McCoy) and G.M. (Tom Telesco).

It would be premature to point to the Chargers as a must-follow blueprint for teams making front-office and head-coaching changes. After all, the Chargers (9-7) were the last team to make the postseason, and they finished behind Denver (13-3) and Kansas City (11-5) in the AFC West. Moreover, the Chargers’ new regime wouldn’t be the first to start fast and fade thereafter.

Nevertheless, the Chargers are a fine example of a club that found a way to mesh the talent already on hand with some savvy acquisitions in free agency and in the draft.

Consider the Chargers’ offense. Quarterback Philip Rivers, tailback Ryan Mathews and tight end Antonio Gates were all on hand when McCoy arrived, and they have fared well in a new system. Then, the Chargers added three more key contributors before the season, signing running back Danny Woodhead in free agency and adding offensive tackle D.J. Fluker and wide receiver Keenan Allen in the draft.

Add it all up, and the result has been a San Diego attack that’s better at converting third downs than any another team (49.0 percent), one that ranks fifth in yards per game and per play.

The Chargers’ defense? Well, it’s a work-in-progress, to say the least. No playoff team is allowing more yards per play than San Diego (6.1). Certainly, the Chargers have some work to do on this side of the ball. Injuries have been an issue at outside linebacker, where Melvin Ingram (ACL) and Dwight Freeney (quadriceps) have both missed extended time. Freeney, whom the Colts signed in May after Ingram was injured, is out for the season, while Ingram returned only in December. Moreover, the Chargers haven’t quite gotten as much as expected out of ex-Jaguars cornerback Derek Cox, a key free-agent signing who’s been benched.

All things considered, though, the Chargers are in good shape for a franchise that underwent such drastic change a less than a year ago. McCoy and Telesco utilized some foundation pieces already in place and added to the structure, and it has worked out splendidly in Year One. The Chargers’ resourcefulness has served them well, and it’s certainly not a bad sign for their future.

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31 Responses to “Chargers’ ability to mesh old and new serves them well”
  1. tnsteve says: Jan 3, 2014 10:08 PM

    Did they really ‘proof’ it?

  2. nvaliant says: Jan 3, 2014 10:18 PM

    How much did the Chargers pay you to write that article? A two win improvement is impressive, but they only made the playoffs because Houston fell off a cliff, Baltimore thought they could rely on Flacco, and the Steelers are old as dirt.

  3. arwiv says: Jan 3, 2014 10:18 PM

    With the salary cap in place, as long as you have competent people running your team, most bad teams will become good in a short amount of time. Of course the good players that they drafted while they were bad will eventually need to get paid and will depart to other teams…and having had those good players will start resulting in good records, which in turn will result in low draft picks….and soon the bad team, which became good, will be bad again.

    That’s the NFL….and that’s why teams like the patriots, steelers, and giants are so fortunate for what they’ve been able to accomplish.

  4. therealraider says: Jan 3, 2014 10:19 PM

    8-8 to 9-7 isn’t a “turnaround”.

  5. ahs2 says: Jan 3, 2014 10:19 PM

    Make it count, San Diego…you’ll be without Whisenhunt next year as he’s sportin’ Honolulu Blue!

  6. therealraider says: Jan 3, 2014 10:22 PM

    my bad .. 7-9 to 9-7. & K.C should’ve been allowed to re-kick from 5 yards closer. HUGE turnaround.

  7. amazingguy101 says: Jan 3, 2014 10:23 PM

    Chiefs made the most pleasant surprised turn around. From a Vikings fan.

  8. dirtdawg54 says: Jan 3, 2014 10:29 PM

    I wouldn’t get too excited. They were a missed field goal and three blown calls away from 8 and 8 and out of the playoffs.

    Every year, the journalists get excited about some team that doesn’t deserve the excitement. Last year it was the Redskins. Look where they are now.

  9. sportsdouche says: Jan 3, 2014 10:29 PM

    Umm…. I think there is another team in the AFC west that is a better example of a “quick turnaround.” The Chargers only made the postseason due to a botched call forcing their last game to overtime.

  10. The League's Crusade Against The Steelers Continues says: Jan 3, 2014 10:31 PM

    What about the Chiefs?

  11. silvernblak says: Jan 3, 2014 10:31 PM

    Try to tell my fellow Raider Nation that same story which is what I have been saying. They don’t want to lose, but keep DA at 8-24 cuz him and RM know what they are doing. Especially when they passed ok Keenan Allen and Fluker? Now Trent Edwards just hand picked by DA with 70 mil in cap space. Stuck on STUPID!

  12. floridaslonechargersfan says: Jan 3, 2014 10:33 PM

    I think best of all, this coaching staff was able to FINALLY get Ryan Mathews going. It has been a pleasure to watch a strong running game for the first time since 2007. Oh, and they brought Philip Rivers back from the abyss. Not a bad first year.

  13. eddiek77 says: Jan 3, 2014 10:38 PM

    Are you joking?

    I’ve watched this team on several occasions this season and one can only call them mediocre, at best. What, are you simply trying to hype interest? Here’s a team that should be sitting at home this Sunday, with the most overrated QB in the AFC (sorry, Eli Manning wears the crown for the entire NFL).

    And Jerry Jones wants to expand the playoffs so we see even more teams like this? Just when will these guys have enough money, anyway?

  14. dpaste99 says: Jan 3, 2014 10:40 PM

    Good for the Chargers organization but how is this new success any less news worthy than the Chiefs or Eagles?
    Both were non contenders turned around. Both had major changes from top down. (Eagles of course didn’t change GM, but it’s widely understood that Chip has final say over Roseman.)
    I don’t have an issue with the article itself, but it somehow seems to suggest that the Chargers were the only organization to get it right. A blueprint to follow, as you put it.

  15. MichaelEdits says: Jan 3, 2014 10:43 PM

    I’m impressed by how quickly they’ve shaken off the Norvalicious stench.

  16. arlingtonsynn says: Jan 3, 2014 10:56 PM

    Rivers playing out of his mind helped too.

    To think this is a team that Malcolm Floyd and Danario Alexander to injuries.

  17. bengalifer says: Jan 3, 2014 10:58 PM

    You forgot one part of the formula: your week 17 opponent must field 22 2nd string players in order for you to get into the playoffs by the skin of your teeth.

  18. elliottcovert says: Jan 3, 2014 11:04 PM

    Rivers is a very good quarterback and he just needed someone to right the ship around him. McCoy has done a fantastic job so far. I agree that he’s kept the things that worked previously in place while also patching up areas of weakness.

  19. cincyalldaway says: Jan 3, 2014 11:06 PM

    Well lets see how well they mesh that old beating they took in early December with the new one they’re gonna take on Sunday!
    WHOOOODEEEEEYYYY!!

  20. chargerdillon says: Jan 3, 2014 11:09 PM

    Something positive about the Chargers?!

    Queue the haters!!!!!

  21. chargersdiehard says: Jan 3, 2014 11:19 PM

    Nobody expected us to make the playoffs this season. Nobody thought Rivers would complete %70 of his passes. Nobody said Ryan Mathews could make it through 16 games off of I.R. Nobody had a better draft in 13′. Nobody is picking them to win Sunday in Cincy. They prove the Nobodys wrong regularly. Go Chargers make a run before Rivers is done! #1boltfaninportland

  22. sdcameron says: Jan 3, 2014 11:37 PM

    Really like the new regime in SD, such a breath of fresh air after Norval and The Lord of no Rings.

  23. jameslongstaffe says: Jan 3, 2014 11:45 PM

    Really happy about McCoy & Telesco, at the end of last season things were pretty bleak looking with the many problem areas & the salary cap mess. I know the Chargers were fortunate to get in the playoffs in the last week, but at the same time they had some tough results go against them as well. The D has work to do, but it’s not that far off as they have some good players, many of them young & still improving. I think the future is bright:)

  24. natelan69 says: Jan 4, 2014 12:42 AM

    Derek Cox is individually responsible for 2 losses this year. Put him in the “whoops!” category of free-agent signings.

    Hoping he doesn’t see ANY game time in the post season. After that, kick him to the curb.

  25. eaglesfan036 says: Jan 4, 2014 12:50 AM

    Seems to me like Mike Mccoy is a good coach for the same reason as Chip Kelly. They both are able to adapt their offense to the players on hand and get the most out of them, especially their quarterbacks.

  26. normswifevera says: Jan 4, 2014 12:53 AM

    From 7-9 to 9-7. They’ll be talking about this epic turnaround for years.

  27. sdb0ltz says: Jan 4, 2014 5:16 AM

    As a Die Hard Charger fan the most I wanted out of this season was progress. And we clearly have that.

    The fact that we made the playoffs is insanely satisfying this year because as a self-admitted homer, I did my best to keep my expectations realistic.

    Win, Lose or Tie.. Charger fan till I die.

    I’m already satisfied with this year and I’m excited about years to come… that said, I really wouldn’t be surprised for us to go in there and knock off the Bengals, I feel the matchups are there.

    We get past that point and it’s all about how far Rivers will take us. Go Chargers Go!

  28. bigbenownsthenfl says: Jan 4, 2014 6:54 AM

    Meshing old with new means. “they had Bill Leavy in their pocket” otherwise they would be home watching the steelers mesh old with the new!

  29. fratboy1969 says: Jan 4, 2014 9:37 AM

    How did the Colts sign Freeney in May after Ingram was hurt? The Chargers signed him after the Colts did not.

  30. 4ever19 says: Jan 4, 2014 9:51 AM

    Let us see what next year brings. My beloved Colts went form 2-14 to 11-5 and 11-5 (with a division title, for whatever that is worth). Let us see if the Dolts (that’s Bolts with a D) can do the same. Then they can be in the “proof” conversation. Til then, they are in the flash-in-the-pan, lucky-for-one-year conversation.

  31. dannymac17 says: Jan 4, 2014 3:47 PM

    You guys keep talking about your teams and your turn around

    none of you had Norv Turner.

    So eat it haters.

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