The San Diego Chargers were a surprising breath of fresh air this season. A decent team in the middling AFC pack, the Chargers got a little bit of luck in their Week 17 overtime win against the Chiefs and found themselves in the playoffs.
Despite inconsistent play and being stuck in the same division as two of the best teams in the NFL, the Chargers rallied behind new coach Mike McCoy and Comeback Player of the Year Philip Rivers, who bounced back from one of the worst years of his career.
But for all the praise he gets, he still manages to fuck up in ways entirely unique to him. Like this gem to end the game against the Titans in Week 3:
This is your 2013 Chargers retrospective.
When it seemed like every AFC team hovering around .500 had playoff chances very much alive at the end of the season, the Chargers capitalized on luck and ended the season with a 4-game win streak.
Keenan Allen finally came into his own, filling a void left by Vincent Jackson’s long absence, Malcom Floyd’s injury and Antonio Gates’ age. Allen caught 13 balls in those last four games, for 203 yards and 5 touchdowns total. The 3rd round pick was one of the most exciting receivers to watch going into the postseason.
The Bolts managed to squeak out their final divisional games against the Broncos and Chiefs, the last one being a bit controversial (just ask Mike Tomlin). But it was enough to get them in the playoffs, where they proved Cincinnati will continue to suck and the people of Ohio should really just give up.
The Chargers had already been to Denver and beaten the Broncos at home only weeks before. But it’s hard to attain such a feat twice, and that second time Peyton Manning was frothing at the mouth to kill every lazy broadcaster’s notion that Philip Rivers is some sort of kryptonite to him come playoffs.
But they fought hard for it. Going into the 4th quarter shut out 17-0, Rivers hit Keenan Allen (who else?) with two TD passes, and Nick Novak kicked a field goal after capitalizing on a lost onside kick. And though the Broncos aren’t exactly the best at closing games, another TD on the ground kept them ahead 24-17.
And with less than three minutes left, the Chargers defense had the Broncos at 3rd down with 17 yards to go. It looked like they could win it; they just needed the ball back. And then Peyton hit Julius Thomas for 21 yards and a first down. That’s why you play all four quarters and no just the last one.
Okay, so what if he turned the ball over 14 times? Despite the risks he takes when he’s on the field, the lack of help at tailback, and absence of big-name target, Philip Rivers had one of the best years of his long career.
With 32 touchdowns and over 4,000 yards, Rivers also improved his completion percentage to a career best of 69.5%. Ken Whisenhunt played a big role in Rivers development this year, so it will be interesting to see how his departure to Tennessee will affect him in 2014.
What was a drunk Chargers fan yelling at the TV this season?
“WHY THE HELL DOES MATTHEWS THINK HE CAN JUST PLOW THROUGH GUYS? BETWEEN THE TACKLES, YOU LITTLE SHIT, LIKE WOODHEAD! HE KEEPS HIS NAPOLEON COMPLEX IN CHECK. YOU WANNA END UP LIKE RAY RICE?!?”
Forced Pop Culture Comparision
The Chargers are like Jerry Seinfeld. There was a time when they were good, and everyone looks upon those times with fondness. And sure there were times when they both looked like shades of themselves. Bee Movie? What the fuck was that shit.
But Seinfeld got a kick in the ass from Larry David, it seems, and started doing cool shit again. He regained what endeared him to people to begin with: a keen eye for interpreting the mundane in the most ridiculous light.
Jesus Christ on a stick, these retros need to fucking end already.
The Chargers haven’t made big moves in free agency, outside of signing the ineffectual Donald Brown. Despite that big question mark, there are still a few needs that need to be addressed. Rivers was pressured all season and could use more help on the offensive line. But if the Chargers want to stay in contention, they’ll need help on defense.
Entirely Too Early Prediction for 2014
If the AFC West stays as tight as it does, I can’t see the Chargers making the playoffs again. Both the Chiefs and Broncos are better equipped to stay relevant in the long-run. Even with a winning record, they’ll be just on the outside of getting the wildcard.
Editor’s note: Nate will drop the Chiefs retro on your head later on today.