Theme Of Change For Chargers In 2012

There is no denying the fact that the 2012 season is going to be a pivotal one for the San Diego Chargers organization. From the stadium uncertainty to the team’s coaching and general manager positions, this could be the beginning of some real change within the franchise.

The change that fans hope to see more than anything in the upcoming season has to be the team’s recent struggles to make the playoffs. It’s not just fans who are sick of the club missing the postseason as quarterback Philip Rivers recently said: "We had a really good offseason, which I know most teams are going to say, but I like the mindset. We're definitely tired of not playing into January."

That mentality is definitely an appealing one as opposed to the complacent attitude which seemed to surround the team for the previous two years. The roster turnover experienced this offseason may also have something to do with that as the club will most likely field at least five new starters in the year ahead.

Gone will be the attitude and off-field issues of receiver Vincent Jackson, but replacing him will be a plethora of new faces like Robert Meachem, Eddie Royal, Roscoe Parrish, and Michael Spurlock. There is plenty of competition at a number of positions from defensive end where much emphasis has been placed in recent drafts to safety and linebacker.

Also departed for greener pastures is bruising back Mike Tolbert, but replacing him will be fellow between the tackles runners Le’Ron McClain and Jackie Battle. Both will allow Ryan Mathews to maintain his role as the feature back while not needing to pick up any slack in short yardage situations.

This roster upheaval was all orchestrated by General Manager A.J. Smith who is one of those among the Chargers’ brass on the proverbial hot seat. He handpicked Head Coach Norv Turner to run the show following the Marty Schottenheimer debacle and to date, that hire has been falling out of favor.

Change has been a theme for the Bolts this offseason, there’s no denying that, but the team hopes that the real difference is found on the field.

While much of the change highlighted has been offensive, there have been plenty of alterations to the defense as well. One position of particular note is at inside linebacker where the team hopes that Donald Butler steps up to be a Pro Bowl level player in 2012. Takeo Spikes will start alongside him, but he is 35 years old and will likely be a player in need of frequent substitution.

That brings us to the enigma that is Jonas Mouton. His selection in the second round of the 2011 draft drew some real criticism, but he never really had an opportunity to prove himself in his rookie year which was cut short due to a shoulder injury. In a similar fashion to Butler and his injury which kept him out for the entirety of his rookie campaign, Mouton will be asked to provide some real depth to the linebacking corps in his second season with the Bolts.

Much of Mouton’s experience heading into the upcoming season is in the classroom, but that work has its benefits. He is realistic about the real thing however as he said: "You've got to actually do it with some of the fastest guys walking the earth. It's a lot different, but it's still football. I feel like I'm progressing every day. I'm getting better every day. I'm feeling pretty good about it. I'm just trying to be the player I know I can be. Everybody tells me I have potential. It'll take a little time."

There are plenty of parallels to the Chargers as a team that could be drawn from Mouton’s situation, but the idea of being told you have potential and then actually living up to it is the most glaring. This is a huge year for the Chargers as a franchise and will likely determine which direction they go in at the head coaching position, the GM spot, and even geographically.

Making the playoffs and making some noise once they get there could go a long way in keeping the Bolts in San Diego as well as keeping Norv Turner and A.J. Smith employed. While those aren’t the primary objectives of the team with training camp just getting underway, they have to be somewhere in the backs of their minds.

Now it’s your turn! Do you expect some real change with the Chargers on the field this year or will it be a continuation of the last two seasons? Does the roster turnover say more about a change of attitude or is it more a sign of desperation? What do you expect to see from Donald Butler and Jonas Mouton at inside linebacker this season? Do you believe the Chargers on-field success is important to keeping the team in San Diego or to having Norv and A.J. return next year? Please fill up the comments section below with your thoughts!

July 26, 2012

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RaiderHater said... Jul 26, 2012, 7:20:00 PM

>>> Dang Anthony you are becoming my spot on writer of all time!! Yes, so I truly expect a definate change in both attitude and in player performances. I think the Defense will be the surprise of the Team and to many in the NFL. I see them as much improved and maybe even dangerous. The Offense....well again I am in freakin' Denver for business yet again, and all the freakin' local media chat is Manning is God and they will go all the way...WTF boys get real! I see us split the games between us but overall in the West, it will be the Bolts on top...PERIOD! I see Rivers back to being uhhhh Rivers with sooooo many targets he is going to tear Teams "new ones". I see a solid run game which turns out to be a top 5 in the league. I see a Defense that sneaks up on a few Teams and wins one for us as a result....and i see the Bolts as the one that laughs at the Media for giving Denver the "automatic" AFC Title. That is one title we have had for awhile and we have not been up to the task, now the players don't have the media telling them they are they have to earn it! Also with all the media forgetting us in the mix, we get to play without high expectations (not for us fans but for them against the rest of the NFL). Take that "oh we are so good we will cruise to the playoffs type attitude" out and perhaps we will prevail! If Norv and AJ and get ready for a couple of years of crap ball until be completely get rebuilt. I like the Option 1 myself.....anyone want to join MY Party!!!???

Pete Spinning said... Jul 27, 2012, 9:55:00 AM

Great article Anthony! I don't know what kind of year Mouton, and Butler are going to have. Good ones, hopefully. That one is still a little fuzzy at this distance. But, they were expected to perform when drafted, so let's see some action! We should see some real change this year. A new look offense, and a new look defense will make a big difference, I believe. After the special teams debacle a couple years ago... and the Rivers turnover fest, the injury extravaganza, & 3rd down implosion from last year... they MUST get things tuned up this season! Good news, is that there are reports of Turner yelling at players on the field (finally!). Also, he sent Larry English to play with the rookies, instead of the veterans. He's a 4th year player!!! (If that doesn't put a fire under his ass, I don't know what will)... great move. He needs to do that with the CB's too, methinks.
Now that Bisaccia has a year under his belt as ST coach, and Manusky has been replaced by Pagano, we should see a different look from the Bolts this year, on both sides of the ball. It's sort of like we are re-building, but without buying into the "complete rebuild package".. hahaha! Did anyone catch Antonio Gates commenting on the podium about how the team has "definitely gotten rid of all the prima donnas on the team"? CLASSIC! Gee... wonder who THAT was directed at? Finally... a REAL Charger, who has the balls to point out what some of us already knew! "Distraction Jackson" had to go! Having good players is pointless, if they are always getting in trouble, giving 75%, and sitting on the bench. Also, even though we drafted Taylor, and have Weddle.. I'm hoping Bigby doesn't pull a Bob Sanders on us... or any other player for that matter! That killed us early last year. It would be nice to get more than two weeks out of our free agency pick ups this time around!
As for Denver.. this is exactly how they were talking about the Eagles last year around this time. They kept saying that their free agency pick-ups were going to catapult them deep into the playoffs (even the Superbowl), and that they were the "dream team"... they showed non-stop footage of them at training camp, and said that they had only been a couple players short of seriously contending for the NFC Championship. Adding Asomugha was supposed to be the final piece.. what happened? Implosion.. that's what happened. Vick was on his ass all year, and got his ribs busted up... and their (supposedly) top notch defense couldn't tackle ANYONE, and found new & interesting ways to completely blow games! I see the same kind of year for Manning in Denver. Their D won't be as good this year either... watch. Tebow willed a lot of those games to happen, with his leadership. Manning is a great leader, but I don't think he is going to be as motivational as Tebow was for the team. I think they made a huge mistake getting rid of him, actually. Remember how awful they were before Tebow came in? I don't think they will be as bad as THAT in 2012.. but, I don't think we will see the defensive jugernaught we saw last year.

Pete Spinning said... Jul 27, 2012, 9:56:00 AM

I'll bring the Kool-Aid!

Nick in PB said... Jul 27, 2012, 10:47:00 AM

That's a 6 month party BRO!!! I'm there!
Once again... great article Anthony!
I for one am extremely excited about this season. More than I have been in years. I see all the changes as a good thing and Pete said it best... it's like we're rebuilding without buying into the complete rebuild package! Perfect analogy!

I know I have been critical of Norv, but it's been just. I just hope that this year he get's it figured out. His job is on the line and we have a pretty stacked team so no more excuses... let's just get it done! Prove me wrong Norv!!!

I don't know what's going to happen with Mouton... he was considered a reach where we picked him but I think we picked him because he is a tackling machine with an attitude on the field. I'd love to see him have the kind of progress we saw from Butler last season. When you think of many of AJ's picks, we see some as busts mostly because of injuries. Butler stayed healthy in his second season and proved to be a good pick, Now it's MOuton's turn. And in many ways, it's English's turn too. Maybe this will be the year he proves his worth. Pete, like you, I'm pulling for him! He's still young and he has to be hungry!

This seasons success has many implications. First, if we don't make the playoffs, Norv has to go. I think AJ has done a very good job this past offseason but if we don't make the playoffs or if we falter at any part of the year, he needs to cut ties with Norv to keep his own job. I know a lot of people have been critical of AJ but I do think he's one of the better GM's in the league. Not perfect but name one that is? But his legacy, if he fails is going to be tied to the hiring of a head coach with a losing record.... an offensive coordinator that is over his head as a HC and possibly past his time. As far as keeping the team here... I don't even want to think about them moving.

RaiderHater said... Jul 27, 2012, 12:15:00 PM

Pete....yeah Pete talkin' da talk! My wife is from Philly...and she made me watch countless news feeds last year on their training camps and all the BS. I won a lot of "things" as a result of her senseless dedication to those "dream-teamers"...Ha Ha! As I said, when I was just in Denver for business, the local media there as well as NFL Network and ESPN are all doing the "Philly Dancing with the Superstars" dance only it is Manning and the Little Ponies. Get the heck outta here!! Love the comments...we are a different Team and to hear Norv is WTF yelling at players and that English is demoted to "play with rookies his own age"...damn good stuff son...gets me all excited...go get you some Team Chargers!!

Pete Spinning said... Jul 27, 2012, 1:31:00 PM

Unfortunately, some jack-off took Charlie Whitehurst's knee out at camp today, and we just had to sign Kyle Boller as our back-up... He walked off on his own power, but he'll miss 2-3 weeks, at least.
Gaither left the field on a cart with a "back cramp" and had to get iced (although it doesn't sound serious). Dombrowski failed his physical with a cyst on his foot, and is out for 2 moinths (may be put on IR eventually), and Gilchrist also left the field with cramps. It sounds like a rough opening day, if you ask me. I don't want to hear ANYTHING else like this from here out, Dang It!!!!

Pete Spinning said... Jul 27, 2012, 3:28:00 PM

By the way... you wanna know what concerns me most about the team? Norv? AJ? English? Cason? Clary? Try again... it's THIS guy treating our players!!!!

Nick in PB said... Jul 29, 2012, 11:46:00 AM

Holy sh!t... I really don't get why the Chargers have employed this dude for so long! I just wonder what would have become of Merriman had we had a different team doctor. I'm not really certain that the device, when used properly, doesn't work... who knows but I do know this, his name seems to be swirling around a lot of bad news. And he's still the team doctor. You know you have a GOOD team doctor when you don't know his name! Thanks for posting Pete!

Pete Spinning said... Jul 29, 2012, 5:02:00 PM

No problem, Nick! I don't get it either. The article says he has paid people off in the past, before he went to trial. AND it was about the same friggin' machine, and dude lost his leg!!! That sucks, man! All of this is speculative, I suppose, as there were no true convictions in a couple of these cases. But, the way that whole thing with Dielman went down, and the RAMPANT injury bug we've been having... it amazes me that he still has a job! If nothing else.. this guy must be distracted by all these lawsuits from his own personal bad business practices.. or should I just say "malpractices". I would have fired him before I fired Manusky!

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