Now that the San Diego Chargers (8-7) will not be going to the playoffs for the first time since 2005, here are four talking points to focus on in the short and long term.
Turner’s future: As soon as the Chargers delivered that stinker of a loss at Cincinnati on Sunday, Turner’s job security became a topic. It’s not surprising. It seems like Turner’s job security has been questioned almost since he took over in San Diego in 2007, even though Turner won the AFC West in his first three seasons. It’s natural that his future is being questioned now. Still, I expect Turner to stay. He signed a contract extension last year and he has the support of the front office. Unless San Diego ownership unexpectedly decides to make wholesale changes, I think Turner is safe.
Rivers’ MVP candidacy: Quarterback Philip Rivers was a legitimate MVP candidate all season. But with the Chargers out of the race, Rivers has no chance of winning the award. He could finish third behind fellow quarterbacks Tom Brady and Michael Vick. Rivers had a great season, but he’s not going to be the NFL’s MVP this season.
The running backs: The Chargers have a nice group of running backs in Mike Tolbert, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles. But it will be a surprise of all three return in 2011. Mathews, the No. 12 overall pick in 2010, will be back for sure. The Chargers have talked to Tolbert about a long-term deal. If he isn’t given a new deal, he could attract some interest as a restricted free agent. The Chargers have paid Sproles more than $13 million in the past two years. His production has slipped some even though he is valuable. Still, something may have to give and I can see Sproles leave as a free agent.
Additions: The Chargers’ extremely high rankings in total offense and total defense show this is a talented team and the presence of Rivers will always make San Diego dangerous. You have to assume that San Diego won’t deal with the injuries it did in 2010 (Rivers completed passes to 17 different players) and its special teams will be more stable next year. So, the Chargers don’t need a whole lot. Plus, San Diego is never overly active in free agency. Yet the Chargers are stacked with draft picks. Areas San Diego could target include receiver, defensive line and linebacker.