Norv Turner era is over but Chargers aren’t prompting optimism as new season kicks off

Posted: 09/09/2013 in football
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The San Diego Chargers open the season on Monday night and you may have noticed there’s not much optimism.

And you surely can’t fault anybody for expecting this to be a down season for the Chargers.

Remember when the Chargers were loaded with talent just a few years back? They always seemed to find ways to come up short, didn’t they?

Now they haven’t made in the playoffs in any of the past three seasons as the Norv Turner experiment – handing a poor head coach lots of talent – proved to be the substandard mixing most folks predicted.

The Chargers open the season against the Houston Texans – a bona fide Super Bowl contender – with a lot less talent on the roster and a first-year coach in Mike McCoy. (see stellar preview and predicted score here – http://www.covers.com/pageLoader/pageLoader.aspx?page=/data/nfl/matchups/g1_preview_16.html)

Gee, I wonder what could go wrong there.

McCoy was offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos and parlayed his work with Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning over the past two seasons into the head-coaching gig.

We have no way of knowing if McCoy is the next Mike Tomlin and will become a great NFL coach or if he will be a huge disaster like Kevin Gilbride. Remember that great hire by Dean Spanos?

The Chargers were 7-9 last season for their first losing campaign since 2003. Finishing with a winning record this season largely hinges on whether or not quarterback Philip Rivers can rediscover his form and cure his turnover issues.

Rivers slipped into decline mode under Turner and committed an alarming 47 turnovers (35 interceptions, 12 fumbles) over the past two seasons. He also took quite a beating with 49 sacks in 2012 and the offensive line isn’t all that improved this season despite the choice of D.J. Fluker from Alabama in the first round of the NFL Draft.

That licking of the chops you hear is Houston defensive end J.J. Watt – the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year who accumulated 20.5 sacks last season.

The receiving group is in the bottom third of the NFL and long-time standout tight end Antonio Gates is slowing down. Depending on injury prone – and often fumble-prone – running back Ryan Mathews is also a dicey proposition.

The defense is led by safety Eric Weddle but is nowhere near as solid as the units who helped the Chargers win 11 or more games four times in six seasons between 2004-09.

So it figures there’s more of a chance of the Chargers declining further than suddenly re-emerging as a playoff team.

Last season’s team won seven games. Right now, it’s hard to see the 2013 edition of the Chargers winning that many.

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