By Dave Thomas
It has been three seasons since the San Diego Chargers had a chance to taste the postseason. Even worse over that time period, the team was fighting more times than not to avoid having home games blacked out.
With a new head coach and general manager in place, the Bolts are hoping that Monday’s AFC opener with the Houston Texans will be a good harbinger of things to come, this for a team that not too long ago had accrued four consecutive AFC West Division crowns.
As the Chargers prepare to host the Texans in the back end of a Monday night ESPN doubleheader (Eagles vs. Redskins in the opener), many eyes will be on the man roaming the sidelines in his first-ever head coaching stint, one Mike McCoy.
McCoy, who last worked as the offensive coordinator a season ago with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, was chosen to succeed the fired Norv Turner (now the offensive guru in Cleveland).
McCoy, joining new GM Tom Telesco as one of the younger coach-general manager duos in the NFL, will be expected to at least have the Chargers in contention for the division crown this fall. With his former team (Denver) clearly the favorite in most eyes when it comes to the AFC West, just making the Chargers competitive again will be a good start.
That all starts with a visit from the team favored by many to capture the AFC South crown, the Houston Texans.
Texans Can Move the Ball
The Bolts figure to get a Houston team (12-4 last season) once again rather diverse on offense.
Houston is led by quarterback Matt Schaub (threw for more than 4,000 yards a season ago), running back Arian Foster (more than 1,400 yards rushing, 15 TD’s in 2012), and wide receiver Andre Johnson (accounted for receptions totaling nearly 1,600 yards).
On defense, both teams were stellar against the run a season ago, with the Chargers and Texans finishing sixth and seventh, respectively against opposing ground games. Houston is led by AFC Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt (defensive end) and linebacker Brian Cushing, the latter of whom is returning from a 2012 season-ending knee injury.
So, what will be the focus for the Chargers as they get back to practice this week?
Along with shutting down or limiting Schaub from having a big passing game, and making sure Foster does not run wild, the Bolts are hoping to have as many hands on deck for the opener.
Chargers Dealt with Preseason Injuries
Preseason injuries were a big story coming out of camp for the Chargers, who lost linebacker Jonas Mouton and wide receiver Danario Alexander to season-ending ACL tears. The team’s most experienced wide receiver, Malcom Floyd, also went down with an injury in the preseason, though he is expected to see playing time moving forward.
On the offensive side of the ball, San Diego features a revamped offensive line (only two starters return) that includes the team’s number one overall pick, Alabama’s D.J. Fluker. On defense, the Chargers replaced veteran secondary guys Quentin Jammer (went to Broncos) and Antoine Cason (landed in Arizona).
While Monday’s tilt is just but one of 16 games, the Chargers no doubt will be looking to set the tone for what some feel could be a long season.
Then again, who would have predicted with certainty that Baltimore would have won the Super Bowl only seven months ago?
For more news and updates, visit San Diego Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas is a freelance writer covering all things Chargers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.