During NFL training camps, we'll be taking some looks at the local reporting to see what stories the hometown papers and fan blogs are saying about their teams. Today, the San Diego Chargers and another year of high expectations.
I'm sure the fans in San Diego are sick of hearing the NFL pundits say that the Chargers are finally going to break through and make a deep run in the playoffs. Every year they seem to have the talent, yet something derails them. They've missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. In 2011, the Bolts started 4-1 and then nosedived.
At first glance of QB Philip Rivers' 2011 stats, you'd think he had a career year. He started all 16 games, completed over 62% of his passes, had 4,624 passing yards and threw 27 TDs. Then you see that Rivers also threw 20 picks, got sacked 30 times and had a QB rating of 88.7, the first time in four years he wasn't over 100 in that category. So what's the word coming out of Chargers' camp? Yep, excitement and optimism.
Kevin Acee writes for the San Diego Tribune, and just check out how he starts off this column from a couple of days ago.
Antonio Gates is once again making the dazzling look common. Eric Weddle is around the ball so much, I think someone is feeding him the offense’s plays. Antoine Cason, welcome back. Second-round pick Kendall Reyes does not seem like a guy who is in his first NFL training camp.
But Acee has been around a while. That's probably why that column has the headline 'Seeing not believing with Chargers just yet.'
We’ve been here before. July never pans out in January.
He's right, they have been there before. The players know it too, just look at what star tight end Antonio Gates had to say.
“We’re tired of being a team people speak highly of,” Gates said. “Our job is to go out and prove it.”
That's going to be the problem for San Diego this year. Denver has a new QB in Peyton Manning. They're better. Kansas City is going to be healthier and better. Oakland will have had Carson Palmer for a full offseason, they'll be better. But the Chargers should be better as well. The once dreadful AFC West is looking like one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL.
General Manager A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner were both brought back for the 2012 season, after many pundits thought they'd both be ousted after missing the playoffs again. Anthony Blake at Bolthype.com writes that this season's team has more competition for playing time, thanks to Smith knowing they had to change the perception of the team.
Smith realizes that the team he once assembled into the so-called ‘most talented team in the NFL’ has been on the brink of mediocrity in terms of public opinion. According to the GM: "We have lost our respect in the league and our credibility in the league. We were an elite team. You miss one year in the playoffs? Okay. You miss two? You deserve everything that's being said about you.''
If you ask me, the Chargers are in danger of missing their third straight year of the playoffs.