This is a new year for the San Diego Chargers. It’s a fresh start for new head coach Mike McCoy. Rookie linebacker Manti Te’o gets a do over from all of the hubris hurled his way before he even made it to training camp. Quarterback Philip Rivers has at least another year to remind folks he’s still one of the best signal-callers in the National Football League.
The Chargers has had to re-invent themselves over the course of a year. So what are we to expect from the Bolts this season. Well, there are a lot of questions that will be answered beginning Monday when the Chargers take on Ed Reed, Andre Johnson and the Houston Texans at Qualcomm Stadium in the NFL season-opener for both teams.
There is a lot of uncertainly about this ballclub this season, so expect the unexpected. One can also make the argument that there are question marks about a lot of teams in the NFL this season. However, with the injury bug hitting key players during training camp this summer, learning a new offensive philosophy following the departure of Norv Turner and adjusting to personnel shakeup, the Chargers will be a team trying to find its identity.
But there are at least five reasons why the Chargers are worth investing looking into this year.
No.5. Crowd Base. The Chargers have been a team based in Southern California since 1960. The organization has been part of the San Diego community since 1961. The team remain the only professional football franchise Southern California fans can see live and in person, making them an attractive favorite for local sports fans to come out and support.
During this time, the Chargers have been a popular and winning franchise, claiming 10 AFC West Division titles. They’ve achieved that type of success with the likes of Hall of Famers Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, future Canton, Ohio enshrinee LaDainian Tomlinson, the late Chuck Muncie and Don “Air” Coryell. All of this has success has allowed the team to build up a devoted following.
N0.4. Charger Girls. Always a portrait of beauty and fun to watch, the Charger Girls are the NFL’s equivalent to the NBA’s Laker Girls. They are worth the price of admission. These ladies are big-time and put on a show that rival any cheer squad around the league. Typical tryout numbers range in the hundreds every year. Like any cheerleader team in the NFL, the Charger Girls have become celebrities in their own right, even going to extend an annual swimsuit calendar. Being beautiful serves only half of what Charger Girls are called to do. They also serve as a community liaison for the team as well.
No.3. Ryan Mathews. The Chargers will go as far as quarterback Philip Rivers will take them. But they won’t get too far if Mathews isn’t up to speed and running at full speed for the entire 16 games on the schedule. Mathews has all the potential of a game-breaker, which the Chargers saw in the electric running back when they selected former Fresno State star in the 2010 draft. He’s big, physical and fast. The tools are all there for Mathews to become a consistent 1,000-yards season rusher. He has to stay healthy to do it. If he does, Mathews will put up some big-time numbers and give Rivers some time to catch his breath from all of that throwing he does.
No.2. Manti Te’o. To stay competitive in the AFC West, the Chargers will need to buckle down on the defense side of the ball. They have an excellent new leader in the relentless Te’o, who will help them do just that. Te’o is just what the doctor ordered for the Chargers’ defense. Te’o has the personality, the star power and the game to become a real force in the NFL. What he gives the Chargers is something that San Diego has lacked for several years now. And that’s undeniable presence on defense. Forget about that off-field nonsense that unfairly followed him at Notre Dame. This guy can flat-out play and he’ll be around for a long time to prove it.
No. 1. Philip Rivers. So goes Rivers, so goes the Chargers. There have been people who have slept on Rivers because of his struggles the last couple of years. Please be warned that if defenses sleep on Rivers this season, it is a good chance that the four-time Pro Bowler will hang them out to dry. Rivers can still light it up with the best of them. A fresh start under coach McCoy will have Rivers rejuvenated and ready to go. The one thing that stands out about Rivers besides his right arm is his attitude. Rivers is as fiery a competitor as they come. This guy does not like to lose. That type of leadership will no doubt rub off on his teammates this season.