By Dave Thomas
If you were expecting a solid season from the San Diego Chargers, a trip to the playoffs and perhaps even a run at a Super Bowl title in 2015, boy, did things go south in a hurry.
With all that said, the Chargers decided that shaking up the front office and coaching staff is not the answer moving forward in 2016. As a result, both general manager Tom Telesco, who had recently been approved for a longer term deal, and head coach Mike McCoy will both return. For many in the media and the fans for that matter, the return of McCoy is probably a notable surprise, especially for a team that came into this past season with such high hopes.
McCoy, who guided the Chargers to a pair of 9-7 seasons in his first two years on the job, watched as the Bolts fell to a miserable 4-12 this season after a somewhat promising 2-2 start. With injuries and some bad coaching calls at times, especially late in games when San Diego either had the lead or was driving to tie or win, many thought McCoy’s tenure as head coach would be sacked.
So, what were some the highs and lows for a team that many thought was in a good position to challenge both Denver (12-4) and Kansas City (11-5) for the AFC West title?
Rivers, Woodhead Put Together Solid Seasons
On the plus side, there is no doubt who the field general is for the Chargers other than McCoy. Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers turned in a very solid season, this despite running for his life much of the time. Rivers, who had inked a new five-year deal in the off-season, ended up throwing for 4,564 yards and 27 touchdowns, but was also sacked 30 times.
Another mainstay of the offense was versatile Danny Woodhead. For Charger fans who were disappointed when Darren Sproles bolted for free agency a few seasons ago, Woodhead has been a nice plug-in. Always willing to do whatever the team asks of him, Woodhead finished his 2015 campaign with 704 yards receiving and six touchdowns, while compiling 325 yards and three scores on the ground. If you could clone any player on the team when it comes to heart and effort, Woodhead would be a solid first choice.
The Chargers also got notable contributions from retiring wide receiver Malcom Floyd, who finished his final season in the league with 30 receptions for 561 yards and three touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Chargers turned to the likes of always dependable Eric Weddle (78 total tackles), Manti Te’o (56 solo stops), Denzel Perryman (67 total tackles) and Melvin Ingram (62 total stops) to lead the way. Weddle, who has been rumored to be playing elsewhere next season, would certainly be welcomed back by McCoy and Co. if the two sides can come together on a contract deal.
Gordon Had Some Moments, But Didn’t Shine
While one may hesitate to call Wisconsin rookie running back Melvin Gordon’s NFL debut a flop, there is no doubt he did not live up to all the hype, especially following his final season of college ball last year in Madison.
Gordon, who was expected to be the go-to guy with the rock after Ryan Mathews left for Philadelphia in the off-season, finished his initial NFL campaign with 641 yards rushing on 184 carries. The most important thing missing from Gordon’s first-season resume was a touchdown. If San Diego is to have any kind of running game moving forward in 2016 and beyond, all of those numbers will have to improve dramatically.
One of the major blows to any hopes San Diego had to rally and secure a playoff spot more than a month ago was when top wide receiver Keenan Allen went down with a season-ending injury. Although the Chargers did still score through the air after Allen’s departure, losing a player of his caliber was undoubtedly a major hit. Allen ended his third NFL season with 725 yards receiving on 67 catches.
Perhaps the biggest glaring hole on this team in 2015 was putting together a healthy offensive line unit week in and week out. Injuries, and sometimes downright awful play, meant Rivers was oftentimes scurrying and the rushing attack was finding minimal success moving the ball against opposing defenses. With the NFL Draft in everyone’s view in just a few months, the Chargers will once again have to address the issues they have on the O-Line.
Bolts Have More Questions Than Answers Heading Into Offseason
When all was said and done, the 2015 campaign for the Bolts was hopefully nothing more than an aberration. Whether or not the team will call San Diego home next year adds to the uncertainty. For guys like Telesco and McCoy, the reprieve from getting the exit door means 2016 needs to see much better results. Otherwise, one or both might need to polish up their resumes sooner rather than later.
As a Chargers’ fan, are you happy that McCoy will be on the sidelines when the team takes the field next season?
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.