Rivers, Chargers can claim NFL's most underrated offense

NFL Live Prediction: Chargers-Cardinals
NFL Live Prediction: Chargers-Cardinals

College Contributor Network

One year ago, the San Diego Chargers were in the top five in both passing and total yards per game, but have been labeled as a bit of an unknown heading into this season. The cause? Former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt took Tennessee's head coaching gig. Now, some wonder whether quarterback Philip Rivers, last season's NFL Comeback Player of the Year, will have the same success with new coordinator Frank Reich.

While many view Rivers as an irritable choker who has yet to play in a Super Bowl, I think the former North Carolina State star is poised for an even bigger season at the helm of one of the NFL's most diverse and underrated offenses.

Here's a look at some of the weapons available to the Chargers' quarterback.

Donald Brown

The Chargers' marquee offensive free agent signing is set to take Ronnie Brown's place in a three-headed backfield featuring Ryan Matthews and Danny Woodhead. Donald Brown was overshadowed by Joseph Addai the first few years of his career in Indianapolis and was slowly replaced midway through last season by Trent Richardson.

Last year, Brown averaged over five yards a carry and an impressive eight yards per catch. While Matthews is set to be the Chargers' feature back and Woodhead will be key as the third down option out of the backfield, the fact that Brown can do a little bit of everything will make him an important piece of the puzzle.

Keenan Allen

Many NFL players encounter a sophomore slump, but Allen will be even more impressive in his second year than his first. In 2013, the star San Diego wideout connected with Rivers for over 1,000 yards -- a stat that can only go up in Reich's pass-heavy offense. When discussing top-tier receivers in the NFL, Keenan Allen not only deserves to be on the list, but he deserves to be near the top.

Malcolm Floyd

After working under Pro-Bowler Vincent Jackson for his first five years in the league and suffering a scary neck injury last season, Floyd has yet to become a household name. However, star tight end Antonio Gates called Floyd "one of the top ten underrated players in the NFL." They're teammates granted, but when a future Hall of Famer gives you that level of respect, you know this player is ready for a comeback.

Eddie Royal

While the star wide out and kick return specialist has seen better days, he is still a key target for Rivers. The 28-year-old won't put up shocking numbers, but he led the team with red-zone targets and touchdowns last season – making him a solid third receiver.

Antonio Gates

Despite his age, Gates is still widely recognized as one of the premier tight ends in the league. As the second-best tight end of the last 15 years (behind only Tony Gonzalez), Gates and Rivers have hooked up 614 times for over 7,800 yards since Rivers took over for Drew Brees back in 2005. This deadly combination has slowed as of late, but it'd be a mistake to overlook this duo.

Ladarius Green

Entering his third season with the Chargers out of Louisiana at Lafayette, the second tight end should see more touches alongside the aging Gates. Last year, Green only caught 17 balls, but three of those were for touchdowns -- including a 60-yard score against the Chiefs. The 24-year-old may not turn out to be a huge factor in the early goings, but his explosiveness could turn some heads as the season wears on.

Bottom Line

With a top tier quarterback in Philip Rivers coming off a career year and armed with a ton of weapons, the Chargers are poised to be amongst the best offenses in the NFL.

An incredibly talented wide receiving and tight end core alongside a three-headed monster in the backfield, the Bolts' offense will be one of the toughest match ups in the league.

While Reich will have some big shoes to fill after Whisenhunt's departure, the Chargers offense will continue to put up huge numbers as they challenge the Broncos in the AFC West.

Bailey Lipschultz is a junior at Syracuse University with majors in Economics and Broadcast and Digital Journalism. Born in Fontana, CA, he is an avid Packers, OKC Thunder, and Mariners fan. He was also deprived as a child because his dad wouldn't let him have a dog. Follow him on Twitter: @baileyyylips