San Diego Chargers: Breaking Down Their Blueprint for Winning the Super Bowl
Let's face it: The San Diego Chargers are nowhere near being one of the favorites for the Super Bowl.
However, it's the beginning of the season, and what's the point of a new season if a team and their fans don't truly believe that they can become the Super Bowl champions?
Even if a team doesn't have a great regular season, everything can come together at the perfect time for a Super Bowl run. The 2011 New York Giants are a perfect example of this.
Let's take a look at what the Chargers need to do to become the Super Bowl champions.
The Team Must Get Healthy and Stay Healthy
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The Chargers start the 2012 season with three key players injured.
Ryan Mathews, Jared Gaither and Vincent Brown are all hurt, and the Chargers need them healthy to reach the playoffs.
Mathews and Gaither might be able to come back soon, but Brown is out for at least the first half of the season.
The Chargers need all three back for their offense to fire on all cylinders. Furthermore, they can't be subjected to any more injuries from key players.
Philip Rivers Needs to Bounce Back
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Philip Rivers set a career high in interceptions with 20 in the 2011 season.
A lot of Rivers' troubles can be attributed to the fact that he had very little time to throw the ball in 2011.
Once Jared Gaither stepped in as the starting left tackle, Rivers' numbers got much better.
Fans hoped that Gaither would help Rivers start off 2012 on the right foot, but Gaither is hurt.
Rivers will have to depend on undrafted rookie Mike Harris to protect his blindside.
Rivers must be ready to make quick reads and make much shorter drops in 2012 for as long as Harris starts. If he can make these adjustments, he will start the year off well and be ready for a big season once Gaither returns.
Get Pressure on Opposing Quarterbacks
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The Chargers' lack of a pass rush in 2011 allowed teams to dissect their secondary and essentially tear the team apart.
To help rectify their pressure problem, the Chargers drafted Melvin Ingram in the first round.
Ingram looked fantastic during the preseason, and he has a legitimate chance at winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.
Another key pass-rusher will be Shaun Phillips. He played just 12 games last year due to injury and turned 31 during the offseason.
If Phillips can return to his 2011 form, he will combine with Ingram to terrorize opposing quarterbacks.
The team also has Antwan Barnes—pass-rusher extraordinaire—coming off the bench. Barnes racked up 11 sacks in limited time in 2011.
Larry English can also make an impact as a pass-rusher. English has been a bust, thus far, but he possesses strength and a quick first step off the edge.
English had three sacks during the preseason, and he can be a solid player if he can stay healthy.
Nate Kaeding Needs to Be Clutch
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Nate Kaeding is the most accurate kicker in NFL history with an 86.5 percent success rate, but he is just 8-of-15 on field goals in the playoffs.
For the Chargers to win the Super Bowl, there's no doubt that Kaeding must somehow learn to calm his nerves in the playoffs.
Kaeding is coming off a torn ACL that ended his 2011 season after one play, but he has looked great during preseason.
If the Chargers make the playoffs, Kaeding and his ability to make playoff field goals will be one of the most interesting storylines to follow.
The Cornerbacks Must Step Up
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Quentin Jammer looked extremely bad last season. He didn't get much help from his front seven in terms of applying pressure on the quarterback, but he simply got beat on a number of double moves and simple sprints down the field in 2011.
NFL.com released an article about Jammer's divorce last year and how he was affected by it. The divorce must have clouded Jammer's mind, but it's unsettling to see a cornerback his age get so much worse from one season to the next.
Antoine Cason made good plays last year, but he also got beat too much. The prime example of Cason's troubles was when Plaxico Burress scored three touchdowns on him.
Jammer and Cason must both perform much better this season for the Chargers to even sniff the Super Bowl.
The lack of depth behind Jammer and Cason is troubling as well.
Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright are the only corners behind the two starters, and they must step up this year.
The two second-year players have a lot of potential, and at least one of them must blossom into a starting-caliber cornerback for the Chargers to have a shot at winning the Super Bowl.