2017 NFL Season Preview- Los Angeles Chargers
For the second straight year, the Chargers grossly underachieved.
Quarterback Phillip Rivers remains a top caliber with 33 touchdowns but also registered a career high with 21 interceptions. After a horrible rookie season, Running back Melvin Gordon bounced back strong, finishing just under 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. Danny Woodhead's injury was a killer to the offense that ultimately hurt Phillip Rivers accuracy and decision making. Tight end Antonio Gates is one touchdown away from becoming the all time leader in touchdown catches by a tight end. Wide receiver Keenan Allen is a special talent, but his body isn't holding up to the NFL game. Tyrell Williams was the teams leading receiver and looks to be a solid number two for years. The offensive line stayed healthy but was still disappointing. Tackle King Dunlap played all year banged up on the left side and guard DJ Fluker and tackle Joe Barksdale struggled to pass protect or open holes on the run game.
The defensive line was solid all year. Nose tackle Brandon Mebane anchored the middle and vastly improved the run defense. Outside linebacker Melvin Ingram played well finishing with eight sacks. The secondary has so much potential, but can't seem to stay healthy. Cornerback Jason Verrett has a lot of ability, but has missed 27 games over the last three years.
The team produced three Pro Bowlers in Phillip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, and cornerback Casey Hayward. Hayward was a free agent gem leading the league in interceptions with seven.
The rookie class was solid and looks to make a big impact in year two. Defensive end Joey Bosa gave the Chargers hope with his tenacious play and lead the team with 10.5 sacks, all while being named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. Tight end Hunter Henry proved to be Antonio Gates' successor as he registered eight touchdowns. Linebackers Joshua Perry and Jatavis Brown both displayed physical attitude the defense needed.
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 8th
NFL Rank- 26th
NFL Rank- 20th
NFL Rank- 10th
NFL Rank- 14th
NFL Rank- 16th
Just hours after capping a 5-11 season with a loss, the Chargers fired head coach Mike McCoy. A week later, the team announced that they were relocating from San Diego to Los Angeles. The move was triggered by a failed November vote to get taxpayers to pay for a new downtown stadium. After the move was announced, the Chargers hired former Buffalo Bills interim head coach and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn to be the new head coach.
The team also replaced defensive coordinator John Pagano with former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley.
Notable Additions- QB Cardale Jones, RB Kenjon Barner, T Russell Okung
Notable Departures- RB Danny Woodhead, RB/WR Dexter McCluster, RB Ronnie Hillman, WR Stevie Johnson, T King Dunlap, G DJ Fluker, LB Manti Te'o, CB Brandon Flowers
Chargers 2016 Season Highlights
2017 NFL Draft
Holding the seventh overall pick going into the draft, the Chargers had to find upgrades for their Los Angeles relocation. Most importantly at left tackle, right tackle and cornerback.
The Chargers released King Dunlap because he couldn't be counted on to protect the team's most valuable asset in Phillip Rivers. They need a fix on the blindside blocker.
The right tackle spot was just as bad and in the AFC West, that is a recipe for disaster. The team needs to improve if they expect to handle the pass rushers of the Broncos, Chiefs, and Raiders.
On paper the secondary is solid, but Brandon Flowers is gone and Jason Verrett isn't indestructible. This unit needs more depth.
When it came time to pick, Los Angeles selected Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams with the seventh overall pick. Williams was the rated the top wide receiver prospect in the draft and had the best blocking ability, but lacks the long speed to create spacing at the top of routes. Unfortunately on July 20th, it was reported that Williams could be out the entire 2017 season due to offseason back surgery.
The Chargers also notably drafted Western Kentucky guard Forest Lamp in the second round, Indiana guard Dan Feeney in the third, and Iowa safety Desmond King in the fifth. Lamp was viewed as the top pass blocking guard in the draft but his below average arm length limits him to guard. Feeney was seen the top pulling guard prospect but has an extensive injury history. King was seen as the top read and react cornerback prospect in the draft but his lack of athleticism will force him to play safety in the NFL.
Mike Williams Highlights
What to Expect
In a new city it will be hard for the Chargers to gain fan fair, primarily because of how they left things in San Diego, but they look to have the talent to compete.
Phillip Rivers is still one of the top quarterbacks in the league, he just has to stop forcing throws and limit his turnovers. Melvin Gordon should finally pass the 1,000 rushing plateau playing behind Russell Okung, Forest Lamp, and Dan Feeney. Keenan Allen will be back but the Chargers have to ease him back into the offense especially now that Mike Williams might miss the entire season.
The defensive switch to a 4-3 scheme shouldn't hinder their success. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram have formed quite a pass rushing duo which is necessary in the the stacked AFC West. The linebackers should be even better with Jatavis Brown and Joshua Perry in their sophomore season. The secondary should be solid barring any injury. Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward are solid cornerbacks and adding Desmond King give the safeties a solid player needed since Eric Weddle left for Baltimore.
Due to the high level of competition in the AFC West and the glaring holes on the roster, the Chargers likely won't make the postseason this year, but that doesn't mean they won't make the year tough on Denver, Kansas City, and Oakland.
Best record they can hope for: 9-7