This article is part of our Team Previews series.
State of the Franchise
The Chargers began 2012 uncharacteristically fast, winning three of their first four games, but a series of costly turnovers and blown leads translated into six losses in their next seven games. The year ended with a disappointing 7-9 record, a third straight playoff absence and the firing of coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith.
In 2012, the offense once again lived and died on the right arm of QB Philip Rivers. Seven times Rivers had a passer rating of 100 or better last year, and the Bolts went 6-1 in those games. Of course the flip side of that equation was that the team was a dreadful 1-8 in games in which Rivers was not at his best. At the wide receiver position, the Chargers were led by the steady but unspectacular Malcom Floyd, who had 56 grabs, but when Danario Alexander was signed in midseason, he quickly became the team's hottest receiver, averaging 17.8 yards per catch, while hauling in seven touchdowns down the stretch. This year, the pair will be joined by rookie Keenan Allen, who is recovering from a knee injury, but may just be the most talented player of the bunch. At tight end, Antonio Gates is entering his 11th year in the league and is coming off the lowest yardage total since his rookie season, but he can still make big plays when called upon.
Running back Ryan Mathews is fast approaching the point where he needs