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When the clock struck 0:00 on a 7-9 season that had, for all intents and purposes, ended in late November, San Diego ownership was quick to cut the cord on the Norv Turner/A.J. Smith era. And so a new run begins in 2013 – and this team is not devoid of talent.

Philip Rivers has been down the last couple years, but with some help at some key spots (offensive line anyone?), we may find that he still has game. Other pieces are injury prone and inconsistent. So who knows what this Chargers team is really all about.

Ernie Padaon, editorial director for Bolt Beat, told us what he thinks the Chargers need to do to get back on track.

Zoneblitz: What were your thoughts on the firings of Norv Turner and A.J. Smith?

Padaon: We needed to clear the air of that stink that Norv and AJ brought onto the team. It was a downward spiral with them running the team and it was time for a breath of fresh air.

Zoneblitz: What do you think of the hirings of Mike McCoy and Tom Telesco to replace them?

Padaon: To be determined. Nobody knows how they will do, but they have said all the right things since taking the job. They have brought some excitement to the team and any change was welcomed. We will see how they do this season.

Zoneblitz: A couple years ago Philip Rivers was a top six or seven quarterback. Now he is on the ESPN overvalued list. What happened to him?

Padaon: The offensive line failed him. It has been a wreck since we lost Kris Dielman and Marcus McNeill on the left side of the line and he has had trouble trusting the guys over there. Without being able to stand in the pocket without fear, he has been throwing ducks out to his receivers.

Zoneblitz: Ryan Mathews has disappointed due to injuries and fumbles. Receiver Vincent Brown missed the season and Antonio Gates is aging – how do you see the Chargers’ offensive skill positions panning out in 2013?

Padaon: Mathews will be given another chance, but they will team him up with someone with more skills than Ronnie Brown. It will be a running back by committee in the backfield. Vincent Brown could compete for a starting job if he can stay healthy. That is two straight seasons that he has been bugged with an injury. Danario Alexander will be the number one target, but the team should look for a little more help at the position. The top 3 receivers are all injury prone. Gates will have to get his act together. He keeps getting slower and can’t get open like he used to. He will be the starting tight end, but the team may give Ladarius Green more playing time.

Zoneblitz: I note from a look through your site the need for a left tackle. How does the offensive line look going forward and how would you address it?

Padaon: The offensive line is crap. We need to sign a couple of people through free agency. I think we should sign a left tackle and one of the guard positions. The guard spot doesn’t need to be Louis Vasquez, but someone that can hold the fort down. After that, we need to draft another starter on the line. Two or possibly three new starters could be in store up front for Philip Rivers.

Zoneblitz: The top corners on the roster are free agents. Takeo Spikes and Atari Bigby have been released. The defense in 2012 was middle-of-the-road, at least in terms of points allowed. What does this unit have to do to improve and do you see the scheme changing under new leadership?

Padaon: The scheme will be the same and there is a lot of young talent on the roster that will be given a chance. Takeo is gone and Shaun Phillips will probably walk in free agency. Melvin Ingram will have to step up and we will need to sign another corner in free agency. Quentin Jammer could be re-signed and moved to the safety spot.

Zoneblitz: What would you like to see the Chargers do in free agency and the draft?

Padaon: We need o-line, o-line, o-line and o-line. And we need secondary help. We have holes all over the place. Sign a left tackle and sign a guard in free agency and we can focus on other holes in the draft.

Zoneblitz: Is there anyone currently on the roster you see having a breakout 2013?

Padaon: Vincent Brown will bust loose if he is able to stay healthy. He will help out the offense a ton.

Zoneblitz: How far are the Chargers from competing again for a playoff spot?

Padaon: Really depends on what is done in free agency and really, really depends on Philip Rivers. As long as Philip Rivers is on the roster, we should have a chance. I still believe in Philip.

Follow Bolt Beat on Twitter at: @bb_chargers
Follow Ernie Padaon on Twitter at: @epadaon
Follow Zoneblitz.com on Twitter at: @ZoneblitzCom

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