Last season is in the books, that's why it's called history. With OTAs under way, the 2012 season inches closer, and that is why it is called the present.
It is safe to say that every AFC West opponent acquired some much-needed talent this offseason via the free-agency wire.
The Chiefs addressed their needs by acquiring former Madden cover boy Peyton Hillis, tackle Eric Winston, and tight end Kevin Boss to name a few. The Broncos shipped "Jesus," to New York and brought in the funnier Manning. And the Raiders more or less soaked in all the action.
If the Chiefs and Broncos made a splash, the Chargers did a “cannon ball!”
After the release of Mike Tolbert and his tummy roll, and V-Jax and his hot head, the cap space was available and the Bolts were sitting in prime position.
Depth appears to be the resounding word echoing around the Chargers' camp this offseason.
Jumping right into the driver's seat, the Bolts took hold of the wheel and weaved together some solid replacements in Robert Meachem and Le’Ron McClain. San Diego would later grab Eddie Royal, Roscoe Parrish and Michael Spurlock for additional threats.
I am not going to lie and say the Chargers won’t miss the 60 receptions, 1,106 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns that Jackson posted a year ago, because they will. Give the newly acquired No. 2 wide-out, Mr. Meachem, a few games under his belt, and he will have the Bolt Nation crying out, "Vincent who?"
Meachem isn’t new to the business, he just wasn’t under the direct spotlight in New Orleans. With the expansive array of talent Brees had available, it was hard to pinpoint a No. 1 receiver.
From 2009-2011, Meachem brought in 43 receptions for 600 yards and seven touchdowns. Moving to San Diego, Meachem will be asked to have his number called on at a more frequent rate.
Coming at a dime a dozen, the opportunities that surfaced were squandered last season. Looking back toward the tail end of the season, the offensive line protected Rivers like he was their momma.
Up until the last five games, Rivers spent most of his time picking the dirt off his lid. In fact, he wound up on the ground 28 times in the first 11 games of the season, and then just twice after the Bolts grabbed the savior, Jared Gaither.
The players play and the coaches coach, but when the two combine, the end result is an electric powerhouse that can't be stopped.
2011 was highlighted by Norv’s inability to call the game down the stretch in critical situations. Predictable—that just about sums up his play calling. Apart from feeding Mathews a healthy dosage of carries each game, Turner is going to need to let Rivers turn loose down field, and take chances when necessary.
All the hype right now circling the Chargers is weighing heavily on the back of No. 24, to have a breakout year. Paving the way for Ryan Mathews will be the freight train McClain. Just to add depth to the backfield, the Bolts just recently nabbed veteran back Ronnie Brown to add a little breathing room to the equation.
Apart from the balanced running attack and Rivers’ ability to spray the ball down field, where the Chargers will win games is at the tight end position. San Diego is stockpiled with talent. At 33, Antonio Gates’ years remaining are dwindling down to one hand.
Although he would rarely admit it, Batman needed Robin. The re-signing of Randy McMichael, and the free-agent acquisition of Dante Rosario will provide the solidified alternate targets to Gates. The Bolts also drafted what they hope is the successor to Gates' throne in Ladarius Green out of Louisiana-Lafayette.
At 6‘6’’ 235 lbs. Green has been tabbed as a wide receiver for the moment. A potential counterpart to Malcom Floyd in the future? we shall wait and see.
The tight end position has become a security blanket in the NFL, and a mismatch nightmare for defenses as we have witnessed with Gates throughout the years. The talent is there more than ever for the Chargers, and if Gates can remain healthy, all I have to say is watch out!