Team needs: San Diego Chargers

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The San Diego Chargers repeated their annual slow start, followed by late-season surge in 2010. But it wasn’t enough. Norv Turner’s team missed the playoffs for the first time since ’05, and just the second time since ’03. Most embarrassingly, the Bolts lost both of their games to the Raiders. Turner and G.M. A.J. Smith enter the 2011 draft with a perhaps the AFC West’s most talented roster, but in need of front-seven defensive help and a few integral pieces on offense.

LB: All three of the Chargers’ top inside linebackers’ contracts are up, and a bookend is needed for edge rusher Shaun Phillips. With 2009 first-round pick Larry English shaping up as an injury-prone bust, San Diego has been heavily linked to Purdue All-American Ryan Kerrigan. Incumbent starting outside linebacker Antwan Applewhite is a versatile, underrated defender, but played too many snaps last season. On the inside, Stephen Cooper is likely to depart, Kevin Burnett isn’t a difference maker, and fellow free agent Brandon Siler is more early-down thumper than every-down linebacker.

DE: Luis Castillo returns at left defensive end, but is coming off a poor season and would benefit from the addition of a better pass rusher on the right side. Jacques Cesaire and Travis Johnson rotated there last season. Neither is an impact player, and they are both unrestricted free agents. While the coaching staff is high on former fourth-round project Vaughn Martin, the Western Ontario alum has just one sack through two seasons.

OT: Right tackle has been a sore spot in San Diego for sometime, and is now in focus with Jeromey Clary headed to free agency. Clary was extended a restricted tender, but the Chargers could afford to get more athletic at the position. Quarterback Philip Rivers had a terrific 2010 season overall, but he took a career-most 38 sacks for a career-high 227 sack yards.

WR: The Chargers control Vincent Jackson’s rights with the franchise tag. But No. 2 wideout Malcom Floyd’s contract is also up, and the team is ready to part with appropriately named Craig “Buster” Davis, a former first-round miss. Not a single receiver expected back for the Chargers is signed past 2011. A developmental prospect, or two, could be helpful.

Overview: The good news is the latter two needs here aren’t so pressing that they could damage San Diego’s playoff chances in 2011. But the first two certainly have the potential to. The front seven on defense will be the Chargers’ priority on April 28 and 29.

Smith is working with five picks in the top 89, giving him the ability to acquire several immediate starters. At least two of them need to be up front on defense.

22 responses to “Team needs: San Diego Chargers

  1. If the Chargers were truly drafting for need we’d hear “With the 18th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the San Diego Chargers select, Chris Peterson, Head Coach, Boise State.”

  2. Lemme beat you over the head with the obvious here. They need a coach. Norv is a fine offensive coordinator, but no matter how hard he tries, he’ll never measure up to someone like Raheem Morris. I chose Raheem because I think Norv’s been coaching longer than entry-level Raheem has been alive. At least it seems that way. And no, Martyball is NOT the answer.

  3. Seriously Evan? Your continuous unnecessary shots at the Raiders is becoming laughable. Worst of all, it makes you look like a petty unprofessional punk, who has no business making a living as a writer. The Chargers have nothing to be embarrased about, the Raiders beat everyone in the division twice.

    My conclusion is that either: A) Al Davis crapped in your Wheaties, B) Al Davis pissed in your Cheerios, C) You’ve been beat up repeatedly by a Raider fan, or D) You’re a Charger Fan who can’t deal with the fact that they’ve never won a SuperBowl.

    But seriously, it’s becoming ridiculous and makes you look very unprofessional. Deal with your issues or go cover baseball or something.

  4. Come on Aj, we need an A+ draft this year… no screwing around. Any coach/GM tandem that can lose to the Raiders TWICE shouldn’t be around much longer anyway. Stupids!

  5. AJ Smith is way overrated! when he gave the team that knocked them out of the playoffs two years in a row (Patriots) and 2nd & 5th round pick to move up a few spots in a 3rd round swap and took a FB, he proved he doesn’t know what he is doing.

  6. Chargers could be a superbowl contender. Only thing lacking is a terrible G.M and a terrible organazation, that can’t see that. Aside from that the talent level is there. It’s Norv’s job to see them through it. I really hope as a fan of a NFC team that they can overcome last years downfall and turn things around. With the people in charge in the front office, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Rivers has some weapons to work with and add a few more plus some defensive players, they might be legit. Only thing stopping them is A.J . and his bad decisions he makes every year.

  7. They need a QB who doesn’t feast on weak teams and scrap time when outscored 107-10 in their deficits during losses.

  8. Ok. We get it. You don’t respect the Raiders. Thanks for finding a way to remind people of that at any opportunity.

  9. Most embarrassing is they loss two games to the Raiders? Get over your hatred. Raiders were a couple games away from a playoff team last year – so it wasnt embarassing to lose to them.

  10. Dear AJ,
    For the love of God, please stop thinking you’re the next Buddy Nix and quit reaching for players. Stick to the scouting reports in this “defense-rich” draft.
    A Charger Fan…

  11. @pc29 …

    Seriously? Have you looked at the other 32 teams? Not many have QBs better than San Diego’s. You can’t possibly be a Chargers fan because Phil Rivers is the one thing these fans shouldn’t complain about.

    Norv, on the other hand … I like him, but at some point it’s time to recognize he can’t close the deal.

  12. With five picks in the first 89 AJ should be able 50 add some decent talent. Chances are that he won’t though. They need to trade a couple to Miami and get Ricky Williams back to his hometown to put a little beef in the backfield.

  13. I, for one, don’t think AJ Smith can get out of his own way. I’ve been a life long Bolts fan & each year my frustration grows. His drafts have progressively gotten worse, since he’s taken over for John Butler (RIP). How much longer does Dean Spanos allow this GM/HC combo to keep coming up short? It’s time to clean house and find another GM and up & coming position coach…No re-treads please!

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