Season summary: Injuries to players of impact and up-and-down play led to the Chargers' last-place finish in the AFC West for a second straight season. But San Diego's poor showing really boils down to coach Mike McCoy's failings in the fourth quarter. The Chargers lost six games this season in which they led in the final quarter. Since the start of the 2015 season, San Diego is 7-17 in games decided by eight points or fewer. Making matters worse, the Chargers are the only team to lose to the hapless Cleveland Browns this year. Good NFL head coaches figure out a way for their teams to overcome adversity and finish. McCoy has been lacking in that area the past two seasons.
While the Chargers have won nine games in two years, quarterback Philip Rivers believes the arrow is pointing up for this team if they can stay together and stay healthy next season. "You just feel like we're about to have this window with another chance to do something special," Rivers said.
Biggest draft need: Although San Diego's starting front five on offense stayed healthy for the most part in 2016, the Chargers still struggled to consistently protect Rivers. Losing No. 1 receiver Keenan Allen in the season opener against the Chiefs severely limited San Diego's ability to stay ahead of the chains. With the success of the Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys creating dominant offensive lines through the draft and free agency, the Chargers could follow a similar blueprint by adding a couple of young, athletic bodies up front.
Key offseason questions
Who will be the coach in 2017? With the season over, the Chargers announced after Sunday's loss they will move on from McCoy. A talented offensive mind who's well-liked by his players, McCoy struggled with game management issues and getting his players to execute at critical moments. The Chargers have looked to the offensive side of the football for the last two hires, so perhaps it's time to look for a defensive-minded head coach to lead this team, bringing more discipline, confidence and swagger to the franchise.
Will the franchise be in San Diego or L.A.? Chargers chairman Dean Spanos is leaning toward exercising the team's option and relocating the franchise to Los Angeles. He has until Jan. 15 to do so. Meanwhile, Spanos will continue to talk with San Diego city officials in hopes of negotiating a viable plan that keeps the team here long term. But as it stands now, the Chargers already leased land in Costa Mesa for a temporary practice facility and will look to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or the StubHub Center to play their home games until Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke completes the $2.66 billion Inglewood Stadium project in 2019. Unless something drastic happens, the Chargers appear headed to L.A.
Can the Chargers figure out how to stay healthy? San Diego placed a league-high 25 players on injured reserve this year, including Allen, running back Danny Woodhead, cornerback Jason Verrett, nose tackle Brandon Mebane, inside linebacker Manti Te'o, cornerback Brandon Flowers and running back Branden Oliver. It's the second year injuries helped derail the season for the Chargers. General manager Tom Telesco has to figure out a way to keep this team healthy over the long haul, whether it's drafting and signing more durable players or doing a more efficient job preventing and rehabbing injuries with the team's medical and training staff.