The offseason of the AFC West has been a very agitated one. From Kansas City changing the front office and trading for Matt Cassel, through the major changes in the Denver Broncos brass and roster, it could be said that it is almost a different division.
Taken as one of the least competitive divisions in the NFL, the AFC East walked towards an even more uneven competition in 2009.
During the 2008 season, football fans all saw the Kansas City Chiefs struggle hardly, in what was the worst season in the franchise’s history. While the Chiefs made some changes that may promptly improve the team, they failed to address their most important need, which is their (horrible) offensive line.
The Oakland Raiders continued their streak of losing seasons in 2008, and through a quiet offseason, made some valuable acquisitions for the team. However, the team is still in rebuild mode, and isn’t expected to make much noise in 2009.
When you take a look at the Denver Broncos, than you see the most relevant changes. With the hiring of Josh McDaniels, one of the brightest offensive minds in the league, all Broncos fans—and even foes—could think about were the possibilities.
The Broncos already possessed a very explosive offense behind the arm of Jay Cutler, their 25-year-old rocket-armed QB just coming off a 4,500-plus yards Pro Bowl season.
The offense also counted with young rising stars like Brandon Marshall, Eddie Royal, and Tony Scheffler; not to mention the true brick wall that is their O-line, led by stud left tackle Ryan Clady.
When anyone thought about the Broncos, it was something like: “If McDaniels was able to make Matt Cassel, a career long backup, play effectively, imagine what he could do with Cutler?!"
The possibilities were almost too good to be true. But after a big dose of drama, Broncos fans ended up having to put up with a handful of free agents, most of them average players, and, the worst part, Kyle Orton as their QB.
To complete an already agitated offseason for the Broncos, their No. 1 receiver Brandon Marshall has stated that he will no longer play for the Broncos because he is not satisfied with his contract and doesn’t like the direction the franchise is heading.
If McDaniels is going to make this team work remains to be seen, but things don’t look too good for the Broncos right now.
As we look to the Chargers, the perspective is different.
Their QB situation could not be better, as Phillip Rivers was the nation’s top passer in the ’08 season. Rivers is a young and promising QB that should lead the Chargers for years to come.
The offense has other great weapons as well, with running backs Ladainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles poised to make one of the most explosive RB duals of the league in 2009. Regarding receivers, they count with all-world TE Antonio Gates, Big man Vincent Jackson, and experienced Chris Chambers.
On the defensive side of the ball, San Diego counts with the return of star linebacker Shawne Merriman, who missed the entire ’08 season due to injury.
Together with other defensive weapons such as Shaun Phillips, Antonio Cromartie, and Quentin Jammer, the Chargers unit should be pretty solid and give the offense the ball back plenty of times.
All in all, the season looks very promising for the San Diego Chargers. However, notwithstanding the quality of the team, the biggest reason for this is the lack of quality of the division rivals.
Last year the AFC West division was marked by the disputes between the Broncos and the Chargers, but as the headline of the article states, Josh McDaniels made San Diego’s job a lot easier.