Repeatedly, you read that writers just don’t trust Norv Turner to lead men. Turner can not possibly get the best out of his Chargers.
You read that Turner’s Chargers have lost three more games than the previous season two years in a row, so they are destined to have a 5–11 season – but will still win the weak AFC West.
Coach Turner repeatedly preached one thing, and that is the Chargers offense could always run a bad defense off the field, but would be stymied against a great defense in big games. He declared that he’d get this offense to the point that they’d score points against the great defenses.
I believe this mission will be accomplished this year. Whatever a defense wants to bring, Norv has the answers.
The Chargers can beat pressure with screens and quick passes.
They have overwhelming options in the red zone from Gates to Tomlinson to Malcom Floyd.
They can beat you deep with Chris Chambers, Floyd, or Vincent Jackson.
They can beat you to the corner in the run game with Darren Sproles.
They can run it right at you at the end of the game with Tomlinson.
Along with the Saints and Patriots, the Chargers offense is far too dangerous for most defenses to contain.
Philip Rivers has total command of the Chargers offense. In his fourth year as a starter and sixth year in the league, Rivers has seen every defense. From the 3-4, to the 4-6, to the 4-3, defenses will not surprise him.
Billy Volek is in his third season with the Chargers and played in the preseason with tremendous confidence and poise.
Volek already stepped in and helped to lead the Chargers past Peyton Manning and the Colts in a play-off game, so there is little doubt that the Chargers are in capable hands if the 11 year veteran needs to step in.
Charlie Whitehurst has only had one drive in his Chargers career. He led the Chargers into the end zone with his feet over the Volek lead Tennessee Titans. Since then, he’s mostly played guys that won’t make it in the NFL. The jury is still out on Mr. Whitehurst.
LaDainian Tomlinson made minor news when he responded to Adrian Peterson’s claim that he's not much of a downhill runner, proclaiming (as he has since his second year in the league) himself the best running back in the league.
It’s been proven, once the passing attack gets rolling, LaDainian gets rolling. In LT’s second season, I remember thinking to myself “it’s not possible for a running back to be better than this."
Tomlinson has repeatedly beaten defenses by ground and air, and remains one of the top short yardage backs the game has ever seen.
Another 1,600 – 1,800 yard season is possible since teams would be completely silly to continue to load eight men in the box with Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates, and Vincent Jackson on the field.
Darren Sproles is the most elusive back in the game since Barry Sanders. If he gets his hands on the ball with any space, it’s a whole lot of trouble for any defense. Norv is going to make that happen continuously.
Gates had been bothered by nagging injuries right along side Tomlinson. Now that his health has returned, Mr. Gates shall take it to the defense once again.
Gates has hit the gym with authority in the off season and has come back this season looking like one of the 300, proving that he is serious about dominating the competition and reclaiming his role as top receiver on the team from Vincent Jackson.
Vincent Jackson appears to be one of the top receivers in this league. He can run faster and jump higher than 95 percent of the defensive backs in the league. In the one preseason game he played in, he looked like a man among boys. He is starting to make the spectacular catch seem routine.
The fragile Malcom Floyd has the same type of ability as Jackson, but can not stay on the field. If he could ever put together an injury free season, he’d likely have 1,000 yards.
At times Floyd can not be stopped. In the one game Floyd was the number one receiver (on the road in 2006 against the Cincinnati Bengals), the Chargers scored 42 points in the second half. While Floyd, Rivers, LT, and Gates all dominated the Bengal defense, Rivers and Floyd simply took over the game over.
One thing that makes the Bolts so good is that there are various other receivers that can make plays as well. Chambers is a solid number two or 1A. Legedu Naanee may line up at receiver, tight end, or full back and beat you for a big play. Craig “Buster” Davis appears to be dangerous when the ball is in his hands, but he may be even more ticklish than Floyd.
This is the most important unit on the field. When left tackle Marcus McNeil and/or center Nick Hardwick miss a game, the whole offense misses a game.
McNeil, left guard Kris Dielman, and Hardwick are all Pro Bowlers and play like it.
Right tackle Jeromy Clary will get beat every so often and has an occasional mental lapse, but it is overblown by fans at times. However, the powerful Clary helped a healthy LT go from also ran to rushing champion when he took over for Shane Olivea in 2007.
Rookie right guard Louis Vasquez had a highlight block when he took out multiple Falcons with one shot, leading to a roster clinching Michael Bennett 49 yard touchdown. That touchdown cemented his roster spot and made Keynan Forney expendable as the team was forced to keep Bennett over Forney.
The Chargers have had great success with past rookie starters like Toniu Fonoti*, Marcus McNeil, Nick Hardwick, and Shane Olivea**–with the former three having either Pro Bowl or Pro Bowl caliber seasons.
*What a waste of talent from Fonoti! This guy’s season in 2004 was among the most dominate performances I’ve ever seen from a guard. He simply ate defensive linemen and linebackers for lunch.
...and then ate himself out of the league.
When Olivea was a hungry 7th round rookie starter under the tutelage of Roman Oben, he took on and dominated Pro Bowlers like Julius Peppers, Patrick Kearney, and Charles Grant. …and I mean dominated.
Unfortunately, Olivea became addicted to pain killers and lost his game changing ability. Failing to catch on with the Giants, he like Fonoti, is now out of the league.