2013 San Diego Chargers: Five Potential Difference-Makers
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The city of San Diego is still reeling from the loss to the Houston Texans on Monday night, but Week 2 is here and the San Diego Chargers better be ready to play in Philadelphia this weekend. Chargers head coach Mike McCoy must stress to his team not to overreact to the outcome from the first week of the season. They still have 15 more games on the schedule to successively change their identity in the league.
Yes, there are many positives to be taken from the game, especially how fluent the offense was executed in the first half. The Chargers are still searching for difference-makers, either on the coaching staff or on the roster. They need someone to devise or make a play when it matters the most.
Here are five potential difference-makers:
1) Head coach Mike McCoy
Great head coaches seem to provide an intangible presence against tough opponents. Now, I'm not ready to place Mike McCoy in this elite category yet , but you have like his aggressive play-calling style that allowed the offense to score 28 points in a little over a half.
His overall game plan was excellent against the Texans, but McCoy and his staff failed to recognize and make the necessary adjustments to counter momentum shifts in the game. The defense gave up too many third-and-long pass completions that sustained scoring drives for the Texans. McCoy must create a mindset inside the locker room that good football teams finish games.
2) LB Donald Butler
Chargers inside linebacker Donald Butler is probably the best football player in the NFL that no one know much about. Just ask the AFC West teams, as they all have gotten up-close and personal with him. Now, Butler must take his game to the next level and record double-digit tackles on a weekly basis this season. He's been a difference-maker all preseason, but Butler must create havoc in the backfield if the Chargers are going to have a winning record.
3) WR Vincent Brown
The moves made by wide receiver Vincent Brown during his touchdown reception right before the first half had all Charger fans longing for more touches by him in the passing game this season. Brown didn't have a memorable 2012 season, as he broke his ankle during the preseason that effectively ended his year.
Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt has to disguise him in formations that confuses the defense and puts Brown in more one-on-one situations against slower defenders. Possession receivers like Brown excel better in screen or slant plays that are design to pick up big receiving yardage and keep the chains moving. If he can maintain a high level of play, then the Chargers might have found themselves a No. 1 receiver for years to come.
4) OT D.J. Fluker
One of the positives that came out of Monday's night debacle was the quality pass-protection in the pocket for quarterback Philip Rivers, as he threw four touchdown passes. Rookie offensive tackle D.J.Fluker had a very impressive NFL debut. I won't go too far and state that he dominated Texans all-world outside linebacker J.J. Watt, but he made his life difficult on Monday night.
Coming out of Alabama, no one questioned Fluker's ability to run-block, but everyone had issues with his pass-blocking skills. The coaching staff has to be pleased with his preparation on recognizing highly disguised blitz schemes and defensive personnel shifts along the line of scrimmage.
5) RB Fozzy Whittaker
Chargers backup running back Fozzy Whittaker has proven all throughout training camp that he can make a definite impact on the football field. One week into his new assignment as a kickoff-returner, Whittaker showed better running instincts than the previous returner, Richard Goodman. He almost broke a 42-yard kickoff-return for a touchdown in the second half.
Each passing week, the Chargers coaching staff is gaining more trust with Whittaker on the field. If running back Ryan Matthews cannot become more consistent in running the football, then it might be time put Fozzy Bear in the starting backfield.