Part 29 of a 32 part series, a running back position analysis of each franchise.
It could be argued that no roster is the league is as stable and set for the future as the Chargers. The credit goes to General Manager A.J. Smith who received a healthy five-year contract extension in January for his work in the draft and ability to lock-up the teams’ core players to long-term deals before they hit the open market.
Building through the draft has gone a long way in terms of continuity and confidence throughout the organization. It has also taken the Chargers from a bad team to one of the leagues elite, and the best in the AFC West.
In terms of what some would call newsworthy or huge headlines like last off-season, this off-season will provide none.
The same coaching staff returns with two changes WR Coach James Lofton & RB Coach Matt Simon were released. The team brought in Hall of Famer & Charger All-Time leading receiver Charlie Joiner to coach the receivers. Ollie Wilson was brought in to coach the Running Backs.
This is a big change from last season with the departure of both coordinators Can Cameron & Wade Phillips for head coaching positions and the eventual firing of Marty Shottenheimer after a 14-2 season. The Chargers started the season losing 3 of 4 games under new coach Norv Turner and were 5-5 with 6 games to play before going on a winning streak that would take them to the AFC Title game.
The 2007 campaign saw the Chargers enjoy their most successful season since 1994. The Chargers won their first playoff game since that season beating the Titans, then went to Indianapolis and upended the favored Colts.
The Chargers advanced to only their fourth AFC Championship game in team history.
The Chargers lost to the Patriots who remained undefeated going into the Superbowl. The Chargers put up a fight & didn’t go down easily despite a gimpy Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates and an injured LaDainian Tomlinson making a cameo appearance.
Some won’t like this but it must be said, The Chargers should’ve started Billy Volek at QB and Michael Turner at Running Back for that game because both were healthy.
He took some hits for not playing in the AFC Title game but he has proven his durability by playing through injuries before.
The Chargers needs going into free agency and the draft are NT, RT, CB, OG, and Safety. The Chargers as a team rushed for 127.4 yards per game which ranked 7th in the league.
· LaDainian Tomlinson: 5’ 10” 220 lbs, 315 Att, 1,474 Yards, 4.7 YPC Avg, 15 TD’s
· Michael Turner: 5’ 10” 237 lbs, 71 Att, 316 Yards, 4.5 YPC Avg. 1 TD
· Darren Sproles: 5’ 6” 181 lbs, 37 Att, 164 Yards, 4.4 YPC Avg, 2 TD’s
· Eldra Buckley: 5’ 9” 207 lbs. rookie free agent from Tenn- Chattanooga
· Tyronne Gross: 5’ 9” 213 lbs. rookie free agent from Eastern Oregon ST.
· Germaine Race: 5’ 10” 218 lbs. rookie free agent from Pittsburg State
Tomlinson didn’t have quite the same numbers he did in 2006 when he was the MVP. He still had a fabulous season leading the NFL in rushing for the second straight year and remains the heart and soul of the team.
Michael Turner signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons to be their starter. The Chargers don’t have a huge need for a running back but will draft one for depth and hope to land a late round steal like Turner (5th round pick 2004), a good target would be Tulane’s Matt Forte or Rutger’s Ray Rice.
I feel with the 1st round pick the Chargers will target Pittsburgh LT Jeff Otah. Depth at NT is a huge concern as age & injuries are starting to catch up to Jamal Williams the heart and soul of the defense UNC’s Kentwan Balmer is a good target.
The question for the Chargers: What is the health status of starters LaDainian Tomlinson, Phillip Rivers & Antonio Gates? In need of a Right Tackle, will the team reach for Boston College’s Gosder Cherilus? OG Mike Goff is 33; will the team use one of their 4 draft choices on a Guard?