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Five Lessons from the 2013 Season

Posted Jan 15, 2014

Here are five lessons we learned from the 2013 season.


Here are five lessons we learned from the 2013 San Diego Chargers.

1. The Future is Bright– We talked about it on Monday, but it is undeniable how bright the future is for the Bolts.  It’s noteworthy what they accomplished in year one of a new regime, and how they relied on some key players who are quite young.  Take a look at just some of the players who made major contributions this season who are 25 or younger  - Keenan Allen (21), D.J. Fluker (22), Manti Te’o (22), Corey Liuget (23), Ladarius Green (23), Jahleel Addae (23), Melvin Ingram (24), Thomas Keiser (24), Kendall Reyes (24), Donald Butler (25), Marcus Gilchrist (25).  Combined with the well-tested veterans on this roster and the strong coaching staff, it’s no wonder everyone feels positive about the direction of the team.  Check out what Philip Rivers said regarding some of the younger players on the roster:

“We have a lot of young guys who got a lot of valuable experience and a lot of young guys who are going to be young guys next year but yet played a lot of football this year.  So our team is only going to get better.  I can’t see how we won’t get better in the next six months and have a chance to be even better next year.”

2. McCoy is the Real Deal – One year ago the Chargers didn’t have a head coach.  Today, they have one who put together a winning formula   during his rookie campaign.  Under Mike McCoy, the Bolts went 9-7, captured a playoff berth, and won a playoff game.   Before the team parted for the offseason, we checked in to get their thoughts on their head coach.  The overall sentiment was unanimously positive,  as best represented  by Nick Hardwick’s statement:

 “It is just so awesome to see how quickly he has turned around this organization.  He has changed the culture of the entire football team and led us to expect to win every football game. We went into each game expecting to win every time.  I can’t say enough what he means to this team.”

 

3. Rivers Quiets the Critics– Heading into the 2013 season, it seemed everyone had an opinion on Philip Rivers.  His play had dipped a bit in previous seasons and many said he needed to be “fixed”.  Rivers and the Bolts did not feel that way, instead insisting that everyone around him needed to play better.  They did so and Rivers’ play spoke volumes as he turned in a career year.  He earned his fifth Pro Bowl honor by completing 378 of 544 passes for 4,478 yards, 32 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions while also leading the league in completion percentage (69.5%).  Moreover, his value to the Chargers is immeasurable, as Antonio Gates explained:

“Philip means a lot to this team because he is the leader of this ball club.  When you have a guy like that, you’re talking about a guy who has the qualities to help you through the tough times. He makes it a lot easier for everyone around him.  That’s what sticks out the most to me about him.  Not only is he the quarterback but he is our leader and he makes the game a lot easier for everyone around him.  For me, that’s the true test of what he means to our team.  We drafted him believing he can carry us to wins, and he’s done that.  I remember one game we had once against Houston, he carried the whole team.  We only won because of him.  When I think of him in general, not only do I think of a quarterback and a guy who leads this team, but in my mind, he’s a friend too.  When it comes to Philip, I feel lucky to have been a part of someone like him.  When I look back at my career many, many years from now I will have felt lucky to have gone through this all with him.”

 

4. Mathews Powers On– Heading into the season, Another Charger that everyone seemingly had an opinion on was Ryan Mathews.  Like Rivers, he responded with his best season ever.  Mathews rushed for a personal best 1,255 yards, which is the eighth best mark in franchise history and seventh-highest in the NFL this year.  It was his second career 1,000-yard season, along with topping  100 yards in six games, the second most in the NFL.  Hardwick is just one member of a physical offensive line that paved the way for Mathews, and he talked earlier in the season about the punishing nature in which number 24 runs:

“I think he is just being very decisive. He knows where he wants to get and he is getting there in a hurry. He is running downhill. The kid is an incredible athlete. He is built like a block of granite. He is a pretty intense specimen, so when he gets going downhill, he is inflicting some pain on these linebackers and safeties. Toward the end of the game, when we can start leaning on people, if we have the ability to run over the course of the game, guys don’t want to hit him so much. He is starting to get a couple extra yards at the end of all those runs. He is doing a great job just being clear in his cuts and very decisive in making one and sticking with it.”

5. Still Room to Improve –The Bolts put together a very impressive season, but still far from perfect. With many areas  the team knows it must improve upon,  McCoy explained,  they are ready to get to work to make 2014 even more successful:

“In the next month, over time, we will sit down as an organization and evaluate everything from the first day of the offseason program on. As a coaching staff, we will sit down in the next couple of weeks, evaluate our football team and talk about them as an organization, the pluses and minuses of every player, the health of the football teams, strength and conditioning, how they performed, how they fit-in to the future plans. Those are things that take time. We are not going to have all those answers tomorrow morning. It is a long process that will take place over the next few weeks, months and everything we will do is in the best interest of the football team moving forward. What helps us win. That is what it is all about."

 

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