If there's any "charge" San Diego exhibits in
their play, it's one to lose. Just look at last year's team, which ended up tied for the NFL's worst record at 4-12. Even if there's not much
improvement in '04, Charger fans can always look forward to watching one of the game's best and most exciting players, RB LaDainian Tomlinson. Last
season, Tomlinson became the first running back in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards and catch 100 passes.
Overall, he was third in the NFL in rushing with 1,645 yards, averaging 5.3 yards-per-carry in the process, and had 17 touchdowns as well. He also led
the AFC in receptions with 100, which is rare for a running back. There is also the progression of rookie QB Phillip Rivers to watch out for, whom the
Chargers acquired for first-overall pick QB Eli Manning on Draft Day. Other than that, though, the Chargers are nothing but cellar-dwellers. Their
best receiver is Tim Dwight, the defense stinks, the offensive line is questionable... at least it means another good draft pick.
LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, 4th year, 5-10, 221 lbs.
Steve Foley (Houston), Randall Godfrey (Seattle), Mike Goff (Cincinnati), Roman Oben (acquired via trade with Tampa Bay)
David Boston (traded to Miami), Marcellus Wiley, eight of eleven offensive linemen from 2003
Donnie Edwards, Lorenzo Neal, Antonio Gates
The only silver lining of last year's 4-12 campaign was the No. 1 draft pick that came as a result of that ineptitude. But the man who would have been
king in San Diego - Eli Manning - pulled an Elway and made it known that he would not sign with the Chargers, who have not posted a winning year or
made a playoff appearance since 1995. Manning's rights were traded to the Giants in exchange for No. 4 pick and North Carolina State quarterback
Philip Rivers, who promptly held out for the first three-plus weeks of training camp before signing a contract. A franchise that has endured scathing
criticism both on and off the field in the last year now must improve its reputation by doing something that has been an all too uncommon occurrence
in San Diego over the past decade - winning football games.
LaDainian Tomlinson will tear up the league once
again this year and is poised to break two Chargers ALL TIME Rushing records early in the season. Tomlinson needs just 7 rushing TD's to overtake
Chuck Muncie as the Bolts All Time rush TD Leader. In addition, LT is just 408 yards behind Paul Lowe who leads the Bolts in All Time rushing yardage.
LT has been playing three years in the league. Let's not overlook the other Running Backs the Chargers have. Lorenzo Neal is the best battering ram in
the NFL. Jesse Chatman, Michael Turner, and Leon Johnson could ALL be starting on another team. San Diego has far too many holes. Their offensive
line, wide receivers, and tight ends are average at best, meaning that Philip Rivers will have no time to throw and nobody to receive his passes.
Looks like another year of LT running left, LT running right, and LT catching screen passes. The defense has some good players, especially in the
secondary, but many of them are young. Additionally, the entire defense is switching to the 3-4, which means that even the veterans will be learning
as they go. In short, the defensive line and linebackers could not stop the run last year, and they did not improve all that much. The secondary will
be a year older and a year better, but without a pass-rush from the defensive line, any secondary can be exposed.
It could be another ugly year in San Diego. Even if Rivers can get ready in time for the season, or if Brees emerges from his two-season haze, how can
a quarterback expect to succeed with a depleted line and a weak stable of receivers? Tomlinson's efforts have been heroic, but as he showed last
season, he can't do it alone. The defense should be better with Phillips at the controls, but there is nothing to suggest that it can carry the team.
Even the kicking game is beset by inexperience. The Chargers are a last place team if there ever was one, and five wins should be considered a serious
[Edited on 13/9/04 by TRD]