By Derek Carlyon
September 9, 2013 (San Diego) -- Charger season is once again upon us, with the opening game tonight at 7:20 PST. The buzz in the air is different than it normally is in San Diego; instead of lofty goals of the Super Bowl, fans seem to just be looking to avoid a historically bad year. Considering the Chargers haven’t made a playoff appearance since 2009, you can’t blame the pessimistic views of the Chargers’ faithful coming into the 2013 campaign.
The Bolts have had their fair share of unfortunate off-season events, including the losses of linebacker Melvin Ingram and receiver Danario Alexander to injuries that will sideline them both for the season.
Ingram had a strong rookie season posting 41 tackles and knocking down five passes while helping out on special teams. The former first-round pick had high expectations for the upcoming year, but his ACL tear will keep him waiting till next year. Alexander came on strong last year as well, doing his best to fill the void left by Pro-Bowl receiver Vincent Jackson. The loss to Alexander makes many wonder who quarterback Philip Rivers will have to catch his throws.
Rivers has struggled in the past two seasons, throwing 35 interceptions in that span. Look for future hall of-famer Antonio Gates to be called on a lot, as well as rookie Keenan Allen. Allen has plenty of potential, and Gates is considered to be one of the best tight ends to ever play. Malcolm Floyd is a legitimate big-play threat, but he has been prone to injury. San Diego State grad Vincent Brown is looking to bounce back from injury from just a year ago.
Eric Weddle will once again lead the defense, and the Pro-Bowl safety has many new faces around him. Former special team’s standouts Darrell Stuckey and Shareece Wright will now be called upon to start in the secondary along will free-agent cornerback Derek Cox. Newcomer Dwight Freeney and rising talent Donald Butler lead a solid group of linebackers that also includes rookie Manti Te’o. The defensive line boasts a group of young, physical talents such as nose guard Cam Thomas and former first-round pick Corey Liuget.
The Bolts were able to sell out the home and season opener Monday night versus the Texans, barely escaping a blackout that would have ultimately proven the negative air that has surrounded this team all off-season. The Chargers were given a 27 out of 32 in the pre-season NFL power rankings by ESPN, while many experts also picked them to finish last in the competitive AFC West.
Regardless of the negativity, the Chargers and new head coach Mike McCoy are excited for the upcoming season. The past decade the Chargers have been labeled as underachievers, and for once, the role can be reversed. The Chargers have a chance to overachieve and with the pressure finally off of them, who knows what can happen this season.