After reporting on some possible breakout candidates on the defensive side of the ball earlier in the week, it only seemed right that the offense had a turn too. There are plenty of new faces added to an already potent unit and how each of these players gels with the incumbents is imperative to predicting just how well the offense functions. While the trite statement of how difficult it is to predict who will breakout holds true for the offense as well, without further ado, here are some names to keep an eye on in the upcoming year.
Yes, this is a very obvious choice. Mathews is being dubbed as the next great running back poised for a breakout in 2012 after a solid 1,000-plus yard campaign a year ago. Still much of his success will be dependent on the offensive line and just how well they function without some key veteran leadership. After seeing LaDainian Tomlinson retire just a few weeks ago as a Bolt, one can’t help but dream of days like these for Mathews in the future.
The Bolts did add some additional depth to aid Mathews after the departure of Mike Tolbert via free agency to the Carolina Panthers. Both Le’Ron McClain and Ronnie Brown will provide great spells for Mathews when necessary as well as change of pace backs in different down and distance situations. Last year was only a building block for the former 12th overall pick in 2010 and if he can cure his fumble issues while staying healthy in the year ahead, this could be a huge season for the Bolts on the ground.
Alright, so maybe an offensive lineman can’t technically breakout, but Green is filling some awfully big shoes full-time in 2012. With Kris Dielman’s official retirement this offseason, the Bolts are banking on Green to takeover the roadgrader role in the running game. The symbiotic relationship between Green’s ability to block and Mathews’ ability to run effectively is undeniable and the Bolts clearly need a solid season from him if they hope to make a run to the postseason.
At guard, the team really doesn’t have much in terms of depth behind Green as second-year man Steve Schilling is the only player really listed as a guard on the depth chart. Brandyn Dombrowski could certainly fill in if necessary, but the team has him slotted in as a tackle now. Johnnie Troutman is an incoming rookie who will provide some depth at the position as well, but if the team is digging that far down the depth chart, it could be a long year. What is interesting about Green is that he too (like Dielman) is a converted defensive lineman and he has no trouble getting to the second level in run blocking.
Malcom Floyd / Robert Meachem
Speaking of big shoes to fill, these two will be competing for the number one receiver role with the Bolts this year replacing Vincent Jackson. Floyd has the big-play ability to get vertical and stretch the field while Meachem thrived in the slot with the New Orleans Saints as a reliable third down receiver. Quarterback Philip Rivers already has quite a rapport with Floyd from their time together, but if Meachem can gain his trust, those two could make magic happen quickly.
Numbers-wise, both are very average as Meachem had 40 catches for 620 yards and half a dozen scores last year while Floyd racked up 43 grabs, 856 yards, and five touchdowns of his own. Adding those two totals together equals something near what a number one receiver is supposed to accumulate, but on their own, neither one has proven the ability to warrant that title just yet. That may not be necessary the way Rivers spreads the ball around with the addition of Eddie Royal as well in the offseason and Vincent Brown returning for his second season with the team, but one of these guys needs to crack the 1,000-yard barrier this year.
Just who needs to step up is still a debatable issue at this point for the Chargers’ offense, but the unit needs to improve its efficiency from 2011. If the Bolts can score enough points the defense can get away with some occasional hiccups along the way. The ability to do that is going to greatly depend on the success of the aforementioned players in the year ahead.
Now it’s your chance to breakout! Is Ryan Mathews a sure-fire breakout candidate or do you see Norv Turner’s pass-heavy play-calling hampering his productivity? Do you think Tyronne Green is ready to take over for the departed Kris Dielman or will he have a difficult time adjusting to life as a full-time starter? Which wide receiver do you believe will emerge as Rivers’ favorite: Floyd or Meachem? Do the Bolts need to have a 1,000-yard receiver in order to be an elite offense or can they spread the load around and still find success? Please fill up the comments section below with any breakout predictions of your own and thoughts on the ones mentioned above!
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