SAN DIEGO, Calif — During a 2012 season, in which many of his teammates and coaches underperformed, San Diego Chargers’ free safety Eric Weddle was at the top of his game.
The three-time All Pro selection (2010-12) and Pro Bowl participant from Alta Loma High School and the University of Utah was voted the Chargers’ MVP by his teammates. He intercepted three passes to give him a total of ten in the last two seasons, tied for third most in the league. And he was involved in 97 tackles — 83 of them solo.
Yet Weddle had to put up with the Bolts missing out on the playoffs for the third consecutive year, mainly due to another inconsistent season under former head coach Norv Turner, who was fired along with general manager A.J. Smith after the disaster of a season.
Their record broke down to a 3-1 start; then a 2-7 fiasco and finally going 2-1 to end the year. Despite the personal accolades, Weddle admits immense personal frustration with the way the team played last year — especially the Monday night loss to the Denver Broncos at Qualcomm Stadium on Oct. 15 in which they blew a 24-0 halftime lead.
“I could barely talk after that game,” Weddle said, whose new head coach Mike McCoy, was the Broncos’ offensive coordinator that night. “I just couldn’t figure out how we lost. Everything went great in the first half; exactly the opposite for us in the second half.
“We can’t ever let that happen again.”
McCoy is counting on players like Weddle, quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates to deliver that message to their teammates through words and action.
On Friday, Weddle — always considered one of the “heart and soul” members of the team, showed that he’s up for the task.
During a routine drill, Rivers attempted a pass into coverage, intended for tight end Ladarius Green. It looked like an easy completion until Weddle appeared from nowhere to break up the pass to the tight end, while physically making sure the bigger Green had no chance of making a catch. It was a playoff-type play and it illustrates the great attitude of the 6-foot, 200-pound Weddle.
“He’s the type of player who takes it on himself to make everyone around him better,” McCoy said of Weddle. “Even early on I could tell he was going to be one of the most competitive players I’ve ever been around. And along with Philip and a few others, he’s going to be a key for us in getting to the Super Bowl and winning it. That’s the only goal we’re looking at.”
Weddle agrees, but knows it’s the entire team that has to be ready to contribute at any time they’re called upon.
“This is serious,” Weddle said. “All of us are relying on (each other) to play well. I can’t do it by myself. I need my teammates playing at a high level. It’s important that we all understand how important this is right now, and we have to be serious about getting ready for every game.”
He added that he sees that type of attitude coming from the coaching staff as well as the players.
“I loved coach Turner, but he’s (the offensive coordinator) in Cleveland, so I don’t worry about what he’s doing,” Weddle said. “That would be wasted energy that I could use to benefit our team.
“I just know what we’re doing now and I love it. I love the direction; the confidence and that we’re getting better each day, each moment.”