NFL Team Previews: San Diego Chargers

Pigskin HeavenCorrespondent ISeptember 11, 2009

SAN DIEGO - SEPTEMBER 4: Running back LaDainian Tomlinson #21 of the San Diego Chargers laughs on th sidelines during the game with the San Francisco 49ers on September 4, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.    (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Pigskin Heaven's Sascha Bartels is breaking down every single team in the NFL prior to the season. Here is his analysis and forecast for the San Diego Chargers. Click on a team to read its preview.

AFC East: BUF | MIA | NE | NYJ

AFC North: BAL | CIN | CLE | PIT

AFC South: IND | HOU | JAX | TEN



NFC North: CHI | DET | GBA | MIN

NFC South: ATL | CAR | NOL | TBA


What’s New?

Not a lot of happenings in San Diego this offseason. Some departures, like Igor Olshansky, and some arrivals, like Kevin Burnett.

For San Diego, the team is more worried about having their key players healthy this season. LaDainian Tomlinson was hobbled at times last season, and Shawne Merriman was sidelined for the year.  Both are back and looking good. That is, until Merriman’s arrest last week.

The draft brought another linebacker, Larry English from Northern Illinois.  The rest of the draft brought depth, but nothing flashy.  Offensive linemen Louis Vazquez and Tyronn Greene, defensive lineman Vaughn Martin, and a couple of skill players.

Three Burning Questions

Is Tomlinson healthy and ready to assume his position as best player in football?

According to coaches and teammates and coaches, Tomlinson has looked as good as ever this preseason, and he'll likely play with a chip on his shoulder.

Hampered last year with toe and groin injuries, he was limited to his worst season of his career, one that still produced 12 TDs by the way.  He looks healthy, motivated, and the Chargers are better for it.

With Merriman back, will Chargers defense return to 2007 form?

In 2008, the Chargers ranked 24th in the league in defense, and 15th in scoring defense.  The 2007 Charger defense ranked 14th and fifth in those respective standings.

This team is certainly built to be better than it was last year, better even than the version from two years ago.

With Merriman and English joined at linebacker by the likes of Shaun Phillips and Stephen Cooper, a secondary that features Quentin Jammer, Antonio Cromartie and Antoine Cason, and a line that features Luis Castillo and Jamal Williams, this defense should be a consistent top five unit.

Let’s see if they can put that together this year.

Should Norv Turner be on the hot seat?

Last year the Chargers went 8-8, inexcusable considering their talent level, no matter how banged up they were.

They did luck into the playoffs and won a game.  Here’s the thing.  It seems that Charger fans are satisfied with the team making the playoffs on a regular basis, and maybe winning a game and losing a close one.  That’s all fine and dandy.

But to me, the Chargers are a team that should have visited the Super Bowl at least once over the last five years, and well, they haven’t.  I know it may be an unpopular decision to fire a coach who leads his team to the playoffs, but Charger fans should be able to expect more from this team.

Fantasy Forecast

Good Play:  The Chargers feature one of the five best running backs in Tomlinson, one of the five best quarterbacks in Rivers, and one of the five best tight ends in Gates.  Vincent Jackson is also a starter in any league.

Avoid:  I wouldn’t put too much incentive in Darren Sproles.  He’s certainly worth a late pick, and if Tomlinson gets hurt then Sproles’ value rises dramatically, but until then, he’s not worth much.

Sleeper:  Whoever steps up and becomes the third receiver behind Jackson and Chambers should see fairly decent numbers.  My money is on Malcolm Floyd.  He’s not worth a draft pick, but look for him on the waiver wire if he starts putting up numbers.


For the prognosis and final record, read the originally posted article here.

This is an original article by Pigskin Heaven Staffer, Sascha Bartels. You can read it, more of Sascha's articles, and more from the Pigskin Heaven staff here.


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