They worked so well together the first time that Ken Whisenhunt returning to the San Diego Chargers was a no-brainer for head coach Mike McCoy.
One of the reasons McCoy brought him back is how well Philip Rivers performed during Whisenhunt's one-year stint as San Diego's offensive coordinator in 2013.
After an uneven stretch of his career in which he threw a combined 48 interceptions from 2010 to 2012, Rivers experienced a rebirth under Whisenhunt, finishing in the top five in completion percentage (69.5 percent), yards per pass (8.23), passing yards (4,478), passing touchdowns (32) and passer rating (105.5) during the 2013 season. Rivers comes into this season ranked ninth on our list and should be a nice, ninth-round option. Stevie Johnson will be lost for a while but the team signed Travis Benjamin in the offseason to pair with Keenan Allen. The team signed James Jones today and TE Antonio Gates is back so Rivers has plenty of weapons.
Chargers wide receiver Steve Johnson was carried off the field Sunday with a right knee injury after going down in a pass drill.
Johnson, who applied no pressure to his right leg as he was carried off, was examined by trainers for several minutes before he was taken inside.
The injury occurred on an pass from Philip Rivers.
Johnson was poised to be the slot guy with Keenan Allen and newly signed Travis Benjamin on the outside. It was shaping up to be the deepest the Chargers WRs have been in a few years. It's obviously not a good sign he couldn't put pressure on the injury but it could have been out of caution. We'll continue to monitor the situation. Dontrelle Inman is next up on the depth chart.
“There’s still such a suddenness there, even at the age of 36,” Rivers said. “He still looks fast. He’s sharp.”
Gates should still put up decent numbers this season.
After missing the first four games of last season due to a suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, Gates limped through the second half of 2015 following an MCL knee sprain in a Week 6 loss against the Green Bay Packers. Despite the suspension and being slowed by injury, he finished the season with 56 catches for 630 yards and five touchdowns.
The Chargers drafted Hunter Henry in the second round of this year’s NFL draft to be Gates’ eventual replacement for a reason. Gates is near the end of a remarkable NFL career. Still, Gates is 12th on our TE list making him a low-end TE1 option. We project him for a 60-685-6.8 line this season making him a solid, late-round option. Buyers should probably have a backup plan, however.
As the Bolts charge forward looking for a bounce back 2016 campaign, Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is dead set on jumpstarting a rushing attack that has been dormant in recent years.
San Diego’s offense was electric at times over the two seasons between Whisenhunt’s stints as OC, and he is quick to point out all the good the staff accomplished with Philip Rivers at the helm. Nonetheless, the Chargers made a number of coaching changes on offense as only one coach remains in the same position heading into 2016.
A major reason for that change was a need to improve the ground game. The Bolts ranked under 13th in the NFL under Whisenhunt in 2012, yet fell to 30th and 31st the past two seasons.
While the offensive coordinator has numerous priorities throughout the offseason, he admits that is chief amongst them.
Whisenhunt: “...the one thing that stands out is we need to run the football better than we did last year. There is no blame associated there, as there are always factors that are involved. But that is probably the biggest thing we have to do, because then your play action builds off of that, your time of possession increases where you can control the ball and you are in better third down situations. All of those things tie in together."
The Chargers struggled to run the last two seasons, and the addition of Melvin Gordon didn't help in 2015. Whisenhunt's offenses have performed better when he's the OC and not the head coach, so his commitment to the running game should be good news for Gordon. Danny Woodhead likely remains the better option in PPR leagues.
Rivers, who has never missed a game since becoming San Diego's starter in 2006, is expected to play on Sunday against the Chiefs so that's the good news. He practiced in full on Thursday and Friday and is listed as probable (foot, illness). Rivers will be backed up by Kellen Clemens and Stevens. Keep in mind, it's a poor matchup against the Chiefs and Rivers is missing a lot of his WR weapons.
Friday, December 11, 2015, 6:22pm
Chargers QB Philip Rivers (foot, probable) took full practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 14. Rivers will be fine to face the Chiefs, though he’s not an attractive start given the matchup and his previous performance against Kansas City (178 yards, 1 INT).
Thursday, December 10, 2015, 6:31pm
Chargers QB Philip Rivers (foot) took full practice reps Thursday after being limited Wednesday. Rivers should be fine to face the Chiefs, though he’s not an attractive start given the matchup and his previous performance against Kansas City (178 yards, 1 INT).
Friday, December 4, 2015, 6:28pm
Thursday, December 3, 2015, 5:56pm
Wednesday, December 2, 2015, 6:12pm
Friday, October 23, 2015, 7:16pm
Chargers WR Stevie Johnson (hamstring, questionable) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week and is questionable for Week 7. Johnson is tentatively on track to return against the Raiders. With Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates both banged up, this is good news for Philip Rivers and Co.
Thursday, October 22, 2015, 6:35pm
Chargers WR Stevie Johnson (hamstring) took limited practice reps Wednesday. Johnson is tentatively on track to return against the Raiders. With Keenan Allen banged up, this is good news for Philip Rivers and Co.
Veteran tight end Antonio Gates returns to Chargers Park this week to begin preparation for his first regular-season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. Gates was suspended the first four weeks of the season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
Ladarius Green filled in admirably with Gates gone. Green is fourth on the team in receptions with 14 for 174 yards and two scores. But Green missed a Week 3 game against the Minnesota Vikings because of a concussion, and does not command the type of attention from an opposing defense that Gates demands.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers also gets his security blanket back in Gates. The two have combined for the most touchdowns by a quarterback and a tight end duo in NFL history with 72. His 99 touchdowns since joining the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Kent State in 2003 are the most in the NFL by any player over the last 12 seasons.
And Gates' 36 touchdown catches on third-down plays rank fourth in league history among all players, and most among tight ends.
"We'll be excited to have him back in there," Rivers said. "He helps us on the field and in the locker room. We've certainly missed him. So it will be a plus. We're acquiring a Hall of Fame free agent here in about 24 hours."
It's great timing for the Chargers who have potentially lost WRs Malcom Floyd (concussion) and Stevie Johnson (hamstring) for Week 5. Gates should have a role right away upon his return as a result, but it remains to be seen how quickly he'll be back to game-form. With a lack for WRs, the Bolts may show more two, TE looks this week. It appears more and more Green's targets could take a hit, perhaps especially in the red zone where Gates is expected to be a big weapon.
The Chargers finished 4-of-7 (57 percent) for the game inside the red zone. The Chargers were solid in the red zone as well last year, finishing tied for 13th at (54.2 percent). Antonio Gates and Eddie Royal were frequent targets of Rivers last season.
But with both of those players gone and Woodhead back, Rivers has a trusted blocker in pass protection who can make someone miss in space out of the backfield in compact spaces.
Thursday, September 10, 2015, 6:19pm
Chargers TE Ladarius Green (concussion) was added to the injury report Thursday after missing practice. Green is very likely to miss Sunday’s game against the Lions. John Phillips will get the start at tight end, but expect the Chargers to utilize Stevie Johnson and Malcom Floyd more heavily with Green sidelined. It’s a slight downgrade for Philip Rivers.
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