The San Diego Chargers last made the playoffs following a 13-3 campaign in 2009. Since then the worst record they've posted is 7-9 which happened in 2012. And yet the three-year postseason drought feels like an epic collapse. Given the expectations the big names on the roster the talent at the quarterback position San Diego's absence from January relevance seems staggeringly lengthy. It led to an offseason house cleaning. Gone are coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith. In came a slew of new young fresh faces roaming the halls trying to bring what had been one of the NFL's oldest teams back into the mix. Here are five things I learned while spending Thursday with the Chargers: 1) Philip Rivers has stronger support system on and off the field: Coinciding with San Diego's fall from grace is the same reality for Rivers. With an offensive line crumbling around him and his team stubbing its toe amid lofty expectations Rivers resorted back to being just pretty good. His quarterback rating and yards per game have been down while his interceptions have been up. And yet when I talked to new offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt this past spring he told me he believed Rivers could return to the Pro Bowl. Whisenhunt felt similar optimism Thursday and he raved about the process. "When you have a guy that's been in the league as long as he has there's a lot of knowledge there" Whisenhunt told me. "It helps you grow as a coach." Whisenhunt has been energized. Internally the Chargers believe much of Rivers' downturn was related to a lack of protection which explains the drafting of Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker in the first round. GM Tom Telesco said "You can already see (Fluker) has leadership capabilities and that'll continue to grow." All that should make Rivers more comfortable and efficient as his confidence in the protection grows. Coaching-wise Whisenhunt isn't the only guy around to help Rivers bounce back. Mike McCoy the head coach was hired in part because of his quarterback prowess. And quarterbacks coach Frank Reich adds his expertise too. Rivers should benefit greatly from this group. "He's got three different guys to lean on" Telesco said. "When you're in the league for a long time done things one way sometimes a change is good. It can refocus. I think he's got a nice support system there with those three guys."
San Diego Chargers surround QB Philip Rivers with fresh faces
NFL.com | Aug 23