2019 NFL Season Preview- Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers showed in 2018 that they are as well rounded a team as any in the league.
Despite a 1-2 start to the year, Los Angeles rebounded going 7-1 on the road to clinch their first playoff birth since 2013. They had the same record as division rival Kansas City but the Chiefs won the division based on the two teams divisional record. In the wildcard round, the Chargers defeated Baltimore on the road 23-17, but lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots 28-41 in the divisional round.
Running back Austin Ekeler is a hardnosed running backup who had a knack for big run plays with six total touchdowns. Fullback Derek Watt is just asked to block and he does it well. After tight end Hunter Henry tore his ACL during OTAs, the team relied more on Virgil Green who was uneven as a blocker. The team also resigned 39-year old Antonio Gates and he had just 28 receptions and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Mike Williams rebounded after a rough rookie season to score 10 touchdowns and was a popular red zone target. Tyrell Williams was solid in his supporting role with five scores and Travis Benjamin displayed his speed on jet sweeps and reverses. The offensive line did a solid job in pass protection. Right tackle Sam Tevi became the starter as the year went on, but he had his struggles. Left guard Dan Feeney continued to show why he will be a starter for a decade. Left tackle Russell Okung was able to stay healthy and play at a high level.
Defensive end Joey Bosa missed the first nine weeks with a foot injury, but finished strong with 5.5 sacks. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane missed a lot of time with a family health issues and Corey Liuget was unavailable for most of the season with a suspension and a knee injury. Darius Philon and Damion Square played well in the final year of their deals. The linebacker corps had some injury woes which hurt stopping the run but the depth came through on occasion. Inside linebacker Denzel Perryman is a fierce tackler but his body gave out on him. Outside linebacker Jatavis Brown moved inside and played well before going down himself. Cornerback Casey Hayward had another solid season while safety Jahleel Addae had an up and down year.
Kicker Caleb Sturgis was released after missing three kicks in Week 9. Punter Donnie Jones was more steady than field changing.
The team had seven Pro Bowlers in quarterback Phillip Rivers, running back Melvin Gordon, wide receiver Keenan Allen, center Mike Pouncey, defensive end Melvin Ingram, safety Derwin James, and special teamer Adrian Phillips while James, Phillips, and cornerback/ punt returner Desmond King were named to the All-Pro team. Rivers has shown no signs of diminishing production at age 37 passing for over 4,300 yards and 32 touchdowns with a 105.5 passer rating. Gordon remains one of he league's most versatile backs as he had 1,375 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns. Allen had his second straight 1,000 receiving seasons and added six touchdowns. Pouncey brought leadership and accountability to the line and helped keep Rivers upright. Ingram led the team with seven sacks while he and Bosa remained one of the top pass rushing duos in the game. Phillips was a stud as a gunner and also played well as a reserve on defense. King has become a solid nickel corner and a surprising return man as he was named to the All-Pro team as a defensive back and punt returner.
The team hit a homerun with the first pick of their rookie class. Safety Darwin James burst on to the scene and never wore down as he was plugged in throughout the defense and finished with 105 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and three interceptions. Outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu got valuable playing time thanks to injuries and played well. Defensive tackle Justin Jones spent the year learning behind the starters. Inside linebacker Kyzir White was playing well as a converted safety before injuring his knee. Running back Justin Jackson showed promise with 4.1 yards per carry and two touchdowns as a reserve. Undrafted kicker Michael Badgley took over kicking duties and missed Justine of his 16 field goal attempts.
Opponent Passing YPG
Opponent Rushing YPG
With the 12-4 season, head coach Anthony Lynn has brought the right mindset to the team. The one area of improvement will be to make sure the Chargers start the season off strong as it could have been the difference from a first round bye and a wildcard slot. 2019 will also be the final year the team plays home games at Dignity Health Sports Park, as the team will move into Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood beginning with the 2020 season.
Notable Additions- QB Tyrod Taylor, LB Thomas Davis, P Ty Long
Notable Departures- QB Geno Smith, WR Tyrell Williams, TE Antonio Gates, DT Corey Luiget, LB Kyle Emanuel, CB Jason Verrett, P Donnie Jones
Chargers 2018 Highlights
2019 NFL Draft
Holding the 28th overall pick in the draft, the Chargers have to make upgrades if they expect to get over the hump. Especially at positions like quarterback, defensive tackle, and linebacker.
Phillip Rivers is playing at a high level but backups like Cardale Jones and Tyrod Taylor, the team has to prepare for the day Rivers retires.
Brandon Mebane's availability was limited last season and Corey Luiget was an underachiever. A plug in the middle of the defense is needed.
The linebacker corps has talent, but has issues staying healthy. The team could use another inside linebacker.
When it came time to pick, Los Angeles selected Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery with the 28th overall pick. Tillery has rare size for an interior lineman with good agility off the snap, but relies more on size and power rather than actual technique.
Other Notable Draft Picks:
Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware- Legitimate athlete, weak level of competition
Trey Pipkins, OT, Sioux Falls- Excellent size and length, Needs to bulk up
Drue Tranquill, LB, Notre Dame- Off the chard intangibles, undersized former safety
Easton Stick, QB, North Dakota State- Dual threat, lacks great arm strength
Emeke Egbule, LB, Houston- Gifted cover linebacker, very raw
Cortez Broughton, DT, Cincinnati- High leadership traits, undersized
Jerry Tillery Highlights
What To Expect
The way the Chargers have played the last two seasons, a lot will be expected of them moving forward.
Phillip Rivers has played some of then most efficient football of his career u deer Anthony Lynn and I expected to continue. Melvin Gordon has requested a trade if he doesn't get a new contract sonic will be interesting to see how that plays out, but Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson showed enough last season that they can play well in what touches they did get. Hunter Henry has issues staying healthy, but looks to haven shaken the injury bug for now. The receiver corps of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Travis Benjamin is solid with Williams and Allen on the outside while Benjamin worms the slot. The offensive line has done a solid job in pass protection and retained all the starters from last season.
With the addition of Jerry Tillery, the defensive line has a solid starting four with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram capable of being game changing pass rushers. The linebacker corps has a lot of potential with enough depth to compensate for if and when the starters go down. Derwin James is a versatile weapon and Nasir Adderley will likely be starting opposite James. Casey Hayward should remain solid and Desmond King has become one of the league's best slot cornerbacks.
Based on how they've finished the last few seasons, Los Angeles matches up really well with Kansas City and could be in a season long battle with them for the AFC West championship and a shot at the Super Bowl.
Best Record They Can Hope For: 12-4