Building The Perfect Chargers Team: Best Player At Every Position
In this article, we discuss the perfect Chargers team. This is not meant to be the all-time team, rather the perfect team meaning it may include current players who are on the path to becoming one of the best in Chargers’ history. In addition, it may include players that would work well with others on the team as the goal is to create the most perfect team, the one that will win the most games, as opposed to simply the most stacked name wise.
Quarterback: Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers may have just left the Chargers, but he is definitely the QB1 for this all-time perfect Chargers team. He is the all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and starts for the franchise. While he may not be as revered as Dan Fouts and his time in the Air Coryell offense, the stats don’t lie, as not only does Rivers have 397 TDs compared to Fouts 254, he also has only 198 interceptions compared to 242 for Fouts. While there was little postseason success, given the right conditions, Rivers is the man we go with for the Chargers.
Running Back: LaDainian Tomlinson
Definitely the easiest choice across the team. A Hall of Famer and arguably a top 5 RB of all time, LaDainian Tomlinson was an absolute force at the position from the day he stepped on the turf. He is the only Charger to ever win an NFL MVP, which as an RB is almost unheard of in today’s game. He still holds the NFL record for most rushing TDs and total TDs in a season. He is 7th all-time in rushing yards and 2nd in rushing TDs, no question he gets the start.
Wide Receiver #1: Lance Alworth
Lance Alworth has the most receiving yards and touchdowns for a WR in Chargers history among plenty of other single-season records. He was the first-ever Charger to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. He is tied with Jerry Rice for the most consecutive seasons with 13+ touchdowns and 12+ touchdowns in NFL history. He was widely regarded as the best receiver during the 1960s.
Wide Receiver #2: Charlie Joiner
Joiner was well known for his time in the “Air Coryell” offense. At the time that Joiner retired, he was the NFL all-time leader in career yards, receptions, and games played which shows how ahead of his time he was. He is 2nd all-time in receptions in Chargers history and first amongst WRs. One of the greatest coaches ever, Bill Walsh, referred to Joiner as “the most intelligent, the smartest, the most calculating receiver ever known.” Yeah, kind of a big deal.
Tight End #1: Antonio Gates
The temptation to put Keenan Allen as a WR#3 was huge, it is very likely he could end up the best statistical receiver in Chargers’ history at the rate he’s going. But for the perfect team, having two of the best tight ends ever on the field at once was too good to pass up and that starts with the all-time TDs leader amongst TEs in Antonio Gates. Not only that, the combination of Rivers and Gates is the most prolific QB-TE combo ever with 87 TDs amongst them, which is also 2nd all-time between a QB and a pass catcher. There is surely a spot in Canton waiting for him.
Tight End #2: Kellen Winslow
Kellen Winslow was one of the first great pass-catching tight ends. He revolutionized the position. Although his career was cut short due to injuries, his greatness and abilities are amongst the best ever. The last time a TE ever led the league in receptions was Tony Gonzalez in 2004. Kellen Winslow led the NFL in receptions back to back which has never been done by a TE since and only happened twice ever.
Kellen Winslow will forever be known for the picture of him being helped off the field in the Epic Miami game where Winslow caught 13 passes for 166 yards and a TD, a playoff record for receiving yards which stood until 2012. Winslow had to be helped off the field as the Chargers were victorious due to pure exhaustion and suffering from a pinched nerve, dehydration, severe cramps, and three lower lip stitches. Talk about grit.
Offensive Tackle: Ron Mix
Ron Mix was drafted 60 years ago so it is hard to see how good he would be in today’s league, but when he played he was the best at what he did. He only amassed two holding penalties in 10 years and was an All-AFL tackle eight years in a row. He was also the first-ever Charger to get his jersey retired.
Offensive Tackle: Russ Washington
Something the Chargers have not had recently is consistency and health on the offensive line, with Russ Washinton there, that’s not something they will ever have to worry about. He started 148 games in a row and every game in the 1970s where he was also named a Pro Bowler five times.
Offensive Guard: Walt Sweeney
Sweeney, similar to the players above, played nearly 60 years ago. He was known for his versatility. He was named to the Pro Bowl nine consecutive years. He was on a Chargers offensive line that was amongst the best in the league and his first year with the team they won the AFL Championship game. Not saying there is a direct correlation but they only won four games the prior season
Offensive Guard: Kris Dielman
Kris Dielman was a major reason for the amount of success LT had with the Chargers. He was well respected by all the members of his line as a leader. He was named as an All-Pro two times and was named to the Pro Bowl four consecutive years. It is safe to say having him on this team along with LT will bode well for the offense.
Center: Don Macek
Don Macek was a mainstay on the Dan Fouts era offensive line. He was part of an offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks per pass attempt from 1981-1983. In 163 career games, he only missed 8 starts. For Philip Rivers, he can be sure that his offensive line would be healthy and consistent which is key.
Defensive End: Leslie O’Neal
O’Neal was a six-time Pro Bowler and former defensive rookie of the year where he recorded 12.5 sacks. He retired with 105.5 career sacks, the most in Chargers history. One can only wonder how much more damage he could have done had he not suffered a knee injury which caused him to miss nearly two seasons.
Defensive Line: Fred Dean
Defensive Tackle: Gary Johnson
Gary Johnson was a sack specialist and retired with 67 sacks. He also holds the Chargers record for most sacks in a season with 17.5. He and other DL selection Fred Dean, were on the same D-Line as they were both named to the All-Pro First-Team team. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro, and was inducted to the Chargers Hall of Fame.
Outside Linebacker: Joey Bosa
This may technically be a bit out of position for Bosa, but with Bosa’s talent, he could play 3-4 backer. Although at the moment, there may be players who are statistically better than Bosa, Bosa has the potential to be the best defensive lineman in Chargers’ history. He won rookie of the year despite only playing 12 games. Not even 25 years old, Joey Bosa has already been named to the Pro Bowl two times and is #8 all-time on the Chargers sacks list. Bosa set the record for most sacks through a player’s first 20 games which shows the sky’s the limit for him. The Chargers should be excited about his future.
Linebacker: Junior Seau
Arguably the greatest Charger of all time, Junior Seau is one of the most renowned players in NFL history and would absolutely be the leader on this defense. He was named to the Pro Bowl 12 times and a First-Team All-Pro six times. He also has the most fumble recoveries and tackles in Chargers’ history. He was a major reason the Chargers made their only Super Bowl appearance, and even in the blowout he still played excellently with nine tackles and a sack.
Linebacker: Shaun Phillips
Shaun Phillips has the ability to be a pure edge rusher or an every-down linebacker manning sideline to sideline and being on a defense that has a mix of both will allow Shaun Phillips to focus on what he’s best at. Having guys like Junior Seau and Derwin James, which will be discussed later, can allow this defense to have more guys rushing the passer. At his peak, he and Shawne Merriman formed arguably the most potent pass rush duo in the league. Phillips is extremely versatile who was also a competent tackler and pass defender.
Outside Linebacker: Shawne Merriman
The personnel on this Chargers defense, if utilized properly, would be every quarterbacks’ nightmare. Shawne Merriman, similar to Bosa currently, was one of the most feared pass rushers when he was in the league. He and Shaun Phillips combined for 26 sacks one year showcasing how well they coexisted. With the field generals that are already on this defense, the Chargers can afford to have three menacing pass rushers obliterate every offensive line they face.
Free Safety: Derwin James
Similar to Joey Bosa, while there may be more accomplished players in the history of this team, all Charger fans can agree on the versatility and impact that DJ has on the Chargers. A true swiss army knife, he can line up everywhere whether it be on the edge, the slot, at corner, the box, or simply deep safety and he is incredibly effective everywhere, in his rookie year he was graded in the top three at his position for both pass defense and rushing the passer… For this perfect Chargers defense, Derwin James needs a spot because there has not been as versatile a defender as Derwin James for the Chargers.
Strong Safety: Rodney Harrison
Rodney Harrison was a 2x Pro Bowler with the Chargers and will bring the boom every play. He is also an extremely versatile player and was the first player in NFL history to score a pick-six touchdown, fumble recovery TD, and a kickoff return TD in the same season. He holds the record for most sacks by a defensive back and is the first player to record 30 sacks and 30 interceptions in his career, which displays his do it all capabilities.
Cornerback: Gill Byrd
Gill Byrd has the most interceptions in Chargers’ history with 42. He also made the Pro Bowl two times and was an All-Pro Corner three times including first-team once and was amongst the best corners during his time.
Cornerback: Charlie McNeil
Despite only playing five years, McNeil warrants a position on this squad. Charlie McNeil holds the Chargers record for most consecutive games with an interception with five. He also holds the NFL record for most interception yards in a single game with 177 and held the record for interception yards in a season for nearly 50 years with 349.
McNeil was a member of the only championship-winning team in Chargers’ history and he also played in four of the first five AFL Championship games. His experience in big games will definitely be vital for this team.
Kicker: Michael Badgley
This may shock people, the Chargers had Nate Kaeding who was a multiple-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler as a kicker. However, this is the perfect team, and there is nobody more notorious to Chargers fans than Nate Kaeding when it comes to choking in the playoffs. In the playoffs, Kaeding had an 8/15 clip on field goals including three missed field goals in a 17-14 playoff loss to the Jets, two of those were 40 yards or less.
Badgley, while largely unproven, holds the longest FG record in Chargers’ history of 59 yards. In the playoff win vs the Ravens, his first playoff game, he made five field goals including two of 53 yards and 47 yards which were absolutely critical to winning that game 23-17. The one FG that was missed was blocked.
It is safe to assume Kaeding would have botched those attempts and the Chargers would have lost, Badgley gives the Chargers the best chance to hit it through the uprights every time around.
The coaching will be huge in determining the ceiling of this team. On defense, there are so many players that do so many things and they need to be put in the right positions to be the most effective.
What do you think? Would you choose any different players for this perfect All-Time Chargers team?