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Turner evaluates Chargers offense
INDIANAPOLIS – San Diego’s offense dominated the field for most of the last two seasons, finishing third in the NFL in total yards and fourth in points.
The Chargers plow into the 30s on the scoreboard with regularity when Philip Rivers is comfortable in the pocket.
But the offense isn’t without fault for San Diego missing the playoffs in 2010 and 2011. The Bolts scorched the AFC in 2009, finishing 13-3 and earning a first-round bye in part because they took care of the ball, finishing second in the NFL with just 17 turnovers.
That figure ballooned to 29 in 2010 (19th in the NFL), including 16 lost fumbles. The Chargers turned the ball over 28 times in 2011 (22nd in the NFL), including 20 interceptions.
“The most significant thing we have to do is we have to eliminate the turnovers,” Head Coach Norv Turner said. “The last two seasons we haven’t done as well taking care of the ball. It’s what we have to do.”
San Diego is 9-0 the last two seasons when the Chargers have a positive turnover margin and 6-11 with a negative margin. The Bolts had a combined -13 turnover margin the last two years.
“Obviously you help yourself a great deal if your defense creates turnovers, and then it’s a double whammy,” Turner said. “That has been a big point of emphasis for us, taking care of the ball.”
Two years ago, San Diego fumbled 25 times and lost more than all but two NFL teams. Turner attributed it to inexperienced players handling the football, including first-year running backs Ryan Mathews and Mike Tolbert. The Chargers sliced their fumbles lost in half last season, but Rivers threw a career-high 20 interceptions.
Turner expects both areas to return to form in 2012.
“I think our young backs have improved a great deal. They need to continue to improve,” Turner said. “And then we’ve got to get Philip back into that form, what he’s normally been.
“Certainly we’ve looked awfully hard at the situations we were in – where we were and what was going on – when we had the interceptions. I think there will be a real sense of urgency by everyone to protect the ball better.”