The 2013-14 season for the San Diego Chargers was one that was filled with surpassed expectations. Not many expected the Chargers to make a playoff run, and even though their season ended on Sunday evening at the hands of the division rival Denver Broncos, this was still a season to look back on with great pleasure. With that said, let’s honor the best that the Chargers had to offer during the 2013-14 NFL season.
Last week, we took a look at the offense. This week, we take a look at defense.
Defensive MVP – Eric Weddle
Although Earl Thomas might be the leader of the pack when it comes to safeties in the National Football League, some might say that Eric Weddle is not too far behind him. However, he was not nearly as dominant as he was in 2012, Weddle still managed to put together a very good 2013 campaign and was far and away the best player on the Chargers defense. Ranked as the No. 7 safety in the NFL per Pro Football Focus, Weddle came away with 115 tackles, two interceptions, and ten passes defended. His decreased numbers were mainly due to having to help mask the holes in a subpar secondary, but with some added pieces this offseason, Weddle will return even stronger.
Defensive Rookie of the Year – Manti Te’o
This was won by default. The fact is that Te’o was one of the only defensive rookies to see the field and make an impact as well. Steve Williams never saw a snap, as the cornerback from California was put on injured reserve before the season began. Tourek Williams, from Florida International, was a bit of a pleasant surprise, but has some work to put in during the offseason. Williams and Te’o add depth to a front seven that got a lot better over the course of the season.
Breakout Player – Marcus Gilchrist
A strong safety from Clemson, Marcus Gilchrist had a season worthy of “break out” honors. Drafted as the 50th overall pick in the 2nd round of the 2011 NFL Draft, Gilchrist really came into his own in his third year in the league. While he did allow three touchdowns, Gilchrist played very well against the run, and came away with two interceptions and five passes defended on the season. 2013 was Gilchrist’s first season at safety, and much like Weddle, his play will improve with better play from the corners in 2014. Shareece Wright finished 2013 strong, but the Chargers will need to add a cover guy who can make an immediate impact heading into next season.