The following is taken from one of DaBolts' comments in Zappa's "The San Diego Chargers...A Paper Tiger?" post. I wanted to make a new post out of it so we can have a focused discussion. My thanks to DaBolts for coming over here and giving us an outside perspective.
DaBolts' comment, slightly edited:
Backups with serious talent include Scott Chandler, Charlie Whitehurst, Legedu Naanee, Ryan Bingham, Anthony Waters, Brandon Siler, Paul Oliver and Carlos Polk. I would bet most of them could start on a lot of clubs, some like Waters, Naanee and Oliver I expect to start on the Chargers before too long. Note that McCree didn’t have enough to make it as a Charger, but still got eagerly snatched up by the Broncos.
Players with big time talent include Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick, Pro Bowl guard Kris Dielman, Pro Bowl Tackle Marcus McNeill, Pro Bowl Nose Tackle Jamaal Williams, ILB Stephen Cooper (the heart of our defense, even with all that talent) and Pro Bowl LB Shaun Phillips. Add that to LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Shawn Merriman, Luis Castillo, Antonio Cromartie, and Darren Sproles and you have twelve elite players, ten Pro Bowlers and eight extremely talented backups.
LoNeal was a great player for the Bolts and a leader in the locker room, but the two games after he went down LT rushed for over 100 yds, averaging 7.7 and 5.6 yds per game. LTs production fell off only after he was injured, Pinnock did an excellent job as fullback, plus he can catch. The Oline is the real key to running the ball, and with Turner as coach we have something to turn to now if opponents stack eight in the box. But lets go through position by position:
Rivers vs. Cutler
Cutler has the edge in almost every category but Ws. Rivers is competitive and knows how to win and performs well under pressure. His fourth quarter rankings are much higher than any other quarter. Still I would give Cutler the edge right now, it will be interesting to see how Rivers does with Chambers for the whole season next year.
LT vs. whomever Denver decides to plug in
Uh, LT Duh. Might it be bad if LT went down? Sure, but the backups did pretty well to pull it out against the Colts in their own house.
Chambers and V. Jackson are big targets that really came into their own last year averaging about 100yds per game each in the playoffs. Buster Davis, last years first round pick had a slow start, but you could see potential at the end. Brandon Marshall is better than anyone the Chargers have, but you have to wonder about his mental stability and how his arm is going respond after the nerve damage he got whilst wrastling a paper bag (and they call the Chargers immature?). With Eric Parker and Malcolm Floyd, we are likely going to trade or drop a WR, this is the deepest the Bolts have been at this position in years. I’m going to call this a push.
Uh Antonio Gates, duh. Come on the best tight end in the business, we have a great blocking tight end in backup and Chandler would start on almost any NFL team. So many of your arguments boil down to, ‘Yeah, he’s a stud, but how imagine if he gets hurt!’ Maybe that’s why the Broncos stick with those mediocre players, eh?
San Diego has Hardwick, Dielman and McNeill, all Pro Bowlers. It’ll be interesting to see how your rook does, but the Chargers have a talented group. Oddly this is the one are we actually may see some depth problems if there is an injury; the only one you missed I think.
Chargers by a long shot, even when Castillo has gone down our backups are awesome. The Broncos may be developing, but you are a long way yet. J. Williams knees are the only concern, and how do you replace a beast like him; his backups are good though.
Chargers by a mile. Merriman is an athletic freak, Shaun Phillips often overlooked is almost as good. Stephen Cooper has turned into a monster in the middle, watch for him to make the Pro Bowl next year.
I’ll actually call this a push, but because of your weak DL, you aren’t going to see the production that the Chargers do. Cromartie is another freak, two intercepts and a forced fumble in the playoffs, another in the Pro Bowl. Whoever said he only made it because of Manning should watch the three picks he made on him, two wouldn’t have been made by anyone else.
Uh, come on you are taking our cast offs and Lynch is geaser. Weddle is solid and watch for Paul Oliver to start at SS and play in nickel. Big edge to SD.
And overall there won’t be the adjustment to a new offensive and defensive system this year. Chargers were playing much better on both sides of the ball at the end of the year, and even with tons of injuries kept the championship game close until the final quarter. Ron Rivera has the guys ball hawking, most turnovers in the league, watch for it again next year. Chargers go 12-4 and go to the Super Bowl this year, you heard it here first!