The 2010 Chargers: What Happened On Offense?

I'd like to say that I can't remember the last time the Chargers' season ended with bitter disappointment, but that would be a lie. Going back to at least 2004, the Chargers talent and expectation level has been on the rise, culminating in serious Super Bowl hopes for the last four or five years. And in each of those seasons, the Chargers fell apart when it mattered most. So in looking at the 2010 season, one in which the Chargers are watching the playoffs from the comfort of their La-Z-Boys, you have to ask, "What happened?" Here is a breakdown of the 2010 Chargers offense by the numbers.

6329 - Total yards for the Chargers' offense, leading the league.
441 - Points scored by the Chargers' offense, ranking second in the league.
16 - Fumbles lost by the Chargers, ranking 3rd in the league.

As league leaders for yards and points scored on offense, it is interesting to note that the Chargers were the only team in the top five in points scored that is not in the playoffs. With an offense among the league leaders, this year's regular season failures can't be blamed on Philip Rivers and company, can they? With all those turnovers, including the plague of fumblitis that infected this team, the offense carries its share of responsibility. Not surprisingly, 11 of the 12 worst teams for fumbles lost are not in the playoffs.

4710 - Passing yards by Philip Rivers, which led the league.
8-4 - The Chargers record when Rivers threw for 300 or fewer yards.
1-3 - The Chargers record when Rivers threw for more than 300 yards.

Like watching Hall Of Famer Dan Fouts in his prime, there is nothing better than watching Rivers throwing for huge yards and scoring almost at will. Yet, year after year the stats don't lie; it is a bad sign when Rivers has to pile on the yardage. The Chargers are best when Rivers throws for fewer yards and the Chargers are able to play with a more conservative, ball-control approach.

735 - Rushing yards by Mike Tolbert, which led the team.
49 - Rushing yards per game for Tolbert
52.1 - Rushing yards per game for LaDainian Tomlinson in 2009.
5 - Fumbles each by both Tolbert and rookie Ryan Mathews, leading the team (non-QB).

You can't say that the Chargers' had a worse year running the ball when you compare it to the previous season (1810 yards rushing compared to an abysmal 1423 yards in 2009). But did it feel like the Chargers were much better? First round pick Mathews, whom the Chargers valued enough to essentially spend a first and second round pick to draft, was a non-factor until the final game of the year. And most worrisome, the fumbling problems developed by Mathews and Tolbert have to be eliminated for the Chargers to improve in 2011. With all things considered, were the Chargers better in 2010 without LT? I don't think so.

782 - Receiving yards by Antonio Gates, which led the team and was 4th among TE's in the league.
10 - Number of games played by Gates
17 - Number of players who caught a pass in 2010
16 - Number of players to catch a pass for the playoff bound New Orleans Saints.
15 - Number of players to catch a pass for the playoff bound Indianapolis Colts.

Much has been made of the 17 players on the receiving end of a Rivers pass in 2010, and admittedly it does say a lot about Norv Turner and his ability to put together a phenominal offensive scheme. That Gates was able to do so much in only 10-games also says a lot about his tremendous skill and value to the Chargers. Still, can you blame the Chargers inability to reach the playoffs on injuries and roster turnover on offense? It didn't seem to ruin the Saints or Colts chances.

The Chargers offense was one of the best on the league, yet the Chargers sit waiting for next season to start another playoff streak next season. Now it's your turn to evaluate the Chargers' offense. What needs to stay and what needs to change? Share your offensive evaluation below.

January 5, 2011

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John said... Jan 9, 2011, 7:15:00 AM

Injuries and fumbles led to the Chargers not making the playoffs. I keep reading about the fumbles but if they had the top 3 receivers available for most of the season we would be in the playoffs even with the fumbles, although the fumbles also contributed to some losses but the injuries and another slow start just caught up to San Diego. They may be our favorite team but the Chargers have only made the Super Bowl once and that says it all. They just can't seem to get it done. When Dan Fouts was playing they didn't have a defense. Now they have an above average defense along with a good offense but yet there are reasons again that we didn't get into the postseason - fumbles and injuries. These are the Chargers - not quite good enough, except for the year they played the Patriots in the AFC Championship game which they would of won if Ladanian and Gates were healthy.

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