Division Preview: AFC West

aricmanthey
Jun 6, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; The Vince Lombardi Trophy and an honorary jersey rest on a table prior to a ceremony honoring the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos in the Rose Garden at The White House. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 6, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; The Vince Lombardi Trophy and an honorary jersey rest on a table prior to a ceremony honoring the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos in the Rose Garden at The White House. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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4th Place:  San Diego Chargers

2016 Record Prediction: 6-10

Explanation:  Ah, the bolts. It’s easy to forget that just a number of years ago, this was the team that was running roughshot throughout the Division. Division champs in 5 of the 6 seasons from 2004-2009, the Chargers and their always friendly QB, Philip Rivers, had a strangle hold on the Division. Since then, they have only had one playoff appearance (2013) and no double-digit win seasons.

Sep 20, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A general view of San Diego Chargers wide receiver Steve Johnson (not pictured) helmet during the game of the San Diego Chargers against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 20, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; A general view of San Diego Chargers wide receiver Steve Johnson (not pictured) helmet during the game of the San Diego Chargers against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

There are a variety of factors for the Chargers decline in recent years. Everything from roster turnover to poor off-season moves that have reduced San Diego to the bottom of the latter in the AFC West.

One major theory for their decline is the deterioration of their QB. While productive on the stat sheet, it’s become clear that Philip Rivers is no longer capable of “putting a team on his back” and carrying them to Super Bowl contention.

That’s not to say that he’s a bad QB, it’s just that his decline in ability in recent years has become more apparent and it has cost the Chargers many postseason opportunities.

Another theory for the Bolts decline is the fact that San Diego’s front office hasn’t done the best job in adding talent throughout the roster.  It’s not a coincidence that when the Chargers didn’t draft well, their team didn’t do well either. Much of the reason that they were such a successful team in the 2000’s was their ability to find and develop talent from the Draft.  While they have given Philip Rivers enough firepower wit the skill position players, their acquisitions on the O-line and Defense have been the main crux of their problems in recent years.

The 2015 Chargers were a prime example of what happens when your team doesn’t have the necessary amount of depth to compete. After many of their starting Offensive Lineman and Defenders succumbed to injuries, the team had to rely undeveloped Practice Squad players and street Free Agents to fill the holes.  The result? A 4-12 season and a top 3 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

While injuries are always hard to forsee, the lack of developmental abilities with the current

Jan 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) pressures a pass by San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) in the second half at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 3, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) pressures a pass by San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) in the second half at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Chargers regime became evident in 2015 and if there isn’t a substantial improvement in 2016, it will be easy to see a new regime take over in the near future.

So all in all, between the inability to consistently develop talent, a QB in decline, a coaching staff nearing “lame duck” status, a more competitive AFC West oh and a pending move to Los Angeles, the Chargers appear to be prime for last place finish in the Division for a second straight year.

They have just enough talent and experience in the coaching staff to stay competitive, but anything beyond six wins in 2016 would be a milestone achievement for this organization. Quite frankly, I feel generous with my prediction of 6-10, but until proven otherwise, I feel like 6 wins is fair for this fledgeling organization.

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