This article is part of our Team Previews series.
STATE OF THE FRANCHISE
By any measure, the Chargers' 2013 season was a major success. The team wasn't expected to do much in Year 1 under new coach Mike McCoy and new GM Tom Telesco, so a 5-7 mark out of the gate surprised few. However, the Bolts closed their campaign with four straight victories and made the postseason for the first time in four years. They even managed to pull off a convincing playoff win on the road against the Bengals. Though the season finally ended with a seven-point loss at Denver the following week, there was a real sense that the team's best days are yet to come.
The biggest reason for the Chargers' success last year was the improved play of the team's offense. Quarterback Philip Rivers bounced back from a pair of subpar seasons to post 4,478 passing yards with 32 touchdowns, while also doing a much better job of protecting the ball. Over the previous two years, he turned the ball over a total of 47 times (35 interceptions and 12 fumbles lost), but last season Rivers limited those numbers to just 11 interceptions and two lost fumbles.
Meanwhile, running back Ryan Mathews managed to stay healthy for a full 16-game season and topped 300 total touches for the first time in his career. Under McCoy, Mathews finally looked like the workhorse the Bolts thought they had when they drafted him in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Danny Woodhead's first year