It's playoffs or bust for San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith next season, as neither will keep their jobs if the team isn’t playing past January. That will mean the Chargers will have missed the playoffs for the third consecutive year.
Changes have already begun, as John Pagano has been hired to replace Greg Manusky as defensive coordinator, and their next move should be to acquire a top-flight pass-rusher who could restore San Diego back on top of the AFC West. Signing DE-LB Mario Williams is the type of game-changing move that brings instant credibility to any franchise.
The Chargers recorded only 32 sacks all last season, as DE Cory Liuget shown little as a pass-rusher, and LB Larry English was non-existent coming off the edge. It’s time to revamp the defensive front and pursue the top prize in free agency.
The front office has already let DE Luis Castillo go and are expected to release OT Marcus McNeill, thus giving the Chargers ample salary-cap space to make a big splash in free agency. Don’t be surprised if they go after several big names besides Williams this offseason.
What does Williams offer the Chargers?
Well, he can play in any type of defensive scheme, as Williams can explode from anywhere on the line of scrimmage into the opponent’s backfield. His wingspan causes major problems for quarterbacks trying to find passing lanes to throw through. And don’t limit Williams to be simply a terrific pass-rusher, he can effectively shut down the running game from the defensive end position.
At the age of 27, Williams is reaching the pinnacle of his career and poised to become the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL. He wants to continue his career in a winning situation, and with Philip Rivers leading the offense, the Chargers are always going to be in the mix for the playoffs.
Smith has failed to select a quality pass-rusher through the NFL draft, and he must address this shortcoming ASAP. Mario Williams is one of the few players who can completely change the climate of a team by simply putting his signature on a contract.
The Chargers must make this happen.