The Los Angeles Chargers started off 2018 1-2 but turned things around quickly, finishing the season 12-4. They had the same record as the Kansas City Chiefs but Kansas City won the tiebreaker due to having a better record in the division (KC went 5-1 while LA went 4-2). Still, even as a wild card team, they were one of […]
The Los Angeles Chargers started off 2018 1-2 but turned things around quickly, finishing the season 12-4. They had the same record as the Kansas City Chiefs but Kansas City won the tiebreaker due to having a better record in the division (KC went 5-1 while LA went 4-2). Still, even as a wild card team, they were one of Super Bowl favorites. They defeated the Baltimore Ravens 23-17 in the Wild Card Round. Injuries, however, caught up to them at the worst time on the defense side and lost to the New England Patriots, 41-28 in the Divisional Round.
Still, with seven 2018 Pro Bowlers and all four All-Pro members back on the team, this team has a lot of weapons and look to be Super Bowl favorites once again. This past offseason, they were relatively quiet during free agency, with signing Thomas Davis from the Carolina Panthers and Tyrod Taylor from the Cleveland Browns being the only somewhat big names they acquired.
As far as the draft, they drafted Notre Dame Defensive Tackle Jerry Tillery and Delaware Nasir Adderley in the first and second rounds respectively.
The major story here is Melvin Gordon. He is currently holding out as he looks to sign a new contract with the team. With reports that both sides are not close to a deal, Gordon could possibly miss some time during the regular season. This hurts as Gordon is one of the better running backs in the league and no doubt makes a difference when he is on the field. Let’s take a look at that position group, as well as the other position groups, along with my projected 53 man roster.
- Starter: Philip Rivers
- Backups: Tyrod Taylor, Easton Stick
- Preseason Cuts: Cardale Jones
Rivers is set to start at the QB position as he heads into his 16th season. While often forgotten about when you mention the best quarterbacks in the league, Rivers is still a very good QB. After a solid 4,038 yard and 32 touchdown 2018 campaign, it looks that there is no sign of him slowing down. It also helps when you have solid skill players to keep his career going.
Taylor, in my opinion, is a good quarterback. He was a solid starter for whatever team he has played for but is the clear cut #2 QB on the roster. His running ability could possibly get him on the field too, maybe in some wildcat formations. Just an idea. Stick was drafted in the fifth round and could be a developmental project as the eventual starter down the line when Rivers finally hangs it up.
- Starter: Austin Ekeler (RB), Derek Watt (FB)
- Backups: Justin Jackson, Troymaine Pope
- Hold-Out: Melvin Gordon
- Preseason Cuts: Jeremy Cox, Derrick Gore, Detrez Newsome
If Gordon was around, he is the clear starter. If they can agree on a long term deal, he’ll play right away.
Still, the running back group is not too bad but the question is how good are they actually with Gordon out of the picture. Ekeler has shown flashes out brilliance when on the field and is a great third-down back. Jackson was also solid last season and will be the primary backup. Pope has bounced around the league and has impressed so far in preseason so he makes the team as the third RB for now. Watt was used a lot in the offense last season and makes the team again as the primary fullback.
A decent group, but Charger fans hope that Gordon will be added to that sooner rather than later.
- Starters: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams
- Backups: Travis Benjamin, Artavis Scott, Dontrelle Inman, Geremy Davis
- Preseason Cuts: Andre Patton, Malachi Dupree, Justin Liggins, Jason Moore, Jordan Smallwood
- Out for the Year: Dylan Cantrell
Allen is one of the better receivers in the NFL and is a great route runner. He’ll look to be the top receiving option for Rivers once again in 2019. After a disappointing rookie season, Williams improved greatly in 2018, catching 10 touchdowns to go along with 664 yards. Look for him to post bigger numbers in 2019.
Benjamin is a vertical threat that is also a factor in the kick/punt return game while Scott will look to make an impact in the passing game as another weapon for Rivers. Davis and recently signed Inman are veterans that could get some playing time as possession receivers. An overall solid group in the wide receiver department.
- Starter: Hunter Henry
- Backups: Virgil Green, Vince Mayle
- Preseason Cuts: Matt Sokol, Sean Culkin, Ben Johnson
- Out for the Year: Andrew Vollert
Henry missed all of 2018 with a torn ACL and before the injury, he was looked at to be one of the young TE’s that’ll be on the rise. The same can be said now even after the injury. Green and Mayle are solid blockers that’ll contribute on Special Teams.
- Starters: Russell Okung, Dan Feeney, Mike Pouncey, Michael Schofield, Sam Tevi
- Backups: Spencer Drango, Forrest Lamp, Trey Pipkins, Scott Quessenberry, Larry Allen Jr.
- Preseason Cuts: Trent Scott, Chris Brown, Blake Camper, Jamar McGloster, Tanner Volson, Brant Weiss
- Out for the Year: Koda Martin
Okung, Pouncey, and Schofield are solid veterans who are guaranteed starters. Lamp and Tevi will look to complete the starting line. Guys like Drango, Quessenberry, and Pipkins to be the main backups that can be plugged in easily with any of the starters go down. Look for undrafted rookie Larry Allen Jr, son of Hall of Famer Larry Allen, to make the roster as a project who could be a steal if he develops into the star his father once was.
- Starters: Joey Bosa, Brandon Mebane, Jerry Tillery, Melvin Ingram
- Backups: Isaac Rochell, Justin Jones, Damion Square, T.Y. McGill
- Preseason Cuts: Cortez Broughton, Dee Liner, Reggie Howard Patrick Afriyie, Thomas Costigan, Anthony Lanier, Chris Peace
Bosa has been great since joining the Chargers in 2016 and is a star in Los Angeles’ defense. Ingram is a solid pass rusher in his own right that is a perfect complement opposite of Bosa.
Mebane is a veteran that played well for the team last season. Tillery will look to start Week 1, forming a great duo in the defensive tackle spot. Rochell, Jones, Square, and McGill will provide solid depth behind the starters.
- Starters: Thomas Davis, Denzel Perryman, Uchenna Nwosu
- Backups: Kyzir White, Nick Dzubnar, Emeke Egbule, Jatavis Brown
- Preseason Cuts: Drue Tranquill, Kyle Wilson, Elijah Zeise
- Out for the Year: Tre’Von Johnson
The linebacking core seems to be the weakest spot on the defensive side but not by much. Perryman leads in the middle and is a solid linebacker that is a tackling machine. Davis is a veteran that is still a solid player despite his at 36. Nwosu is an athletic linebacker that completes the trio.
White, Dzubnar, Egbule, and Brown will provide depth in the group, with the latter two playing on Special Teams.
- Starters: Casey Hayward, Desmond King
- Backups: Michael Davis, Trevor Williams, Brandon Facyson
- Preseason Cuts: Kemon Hill, Bradford Lemmons, Jeff Richards, Arrion Springs
Hayward, especially for the past couple of seasons, has developed into a solid consistent corner that starts on one side. King is a solid corner on the opposite side and also contributes to the kick return department.
Davis could potentially start since King can play all over the field while Williams and Facyson will provide solid depth and Special Teams.
- Starters: Derwin James, Nasir Adderley
- Backups: Adrian Phillips, Rayshawn Jenkins
- Preseason Cuts: Jaylen Watkins, Adarius Pickett, Rodney Randle, Roderic Teamer
James is expected to miss the first couple of weeks with a foot injury. Still, after an excellent rookie season, he has already developed as one of the best safeties in the league. While he may miss some time, whether it is only for a week or two, he is a guaranteed starter. The rookie Adderley is a perfect player to pair with James, forming a great duo in that department.
Phillips will likely start in the meantime until James is fully healthy. He is a hard-hitting safety that is also one of the best Special Teamers in the NFL. Jenkins is another tough safety that provides nice depth.
- Kicker: Michael Badgley
- Punter: Tyler Newsome
- Long Snapper: Cole Mazza
- Preseason Cuts: Ty Long
After years of not finding a consistent kicker, the Chargers found their guy in the former Miami Hurricane. Badgley hit some clutch field goals last year and looks to be the kicker for the foreseeable future. Newsome is an undrafted rookie and will likely make the roster ahead of Long. Los Angeles recently released long time long snapper Mike Windt, who was with the team since 2010. Undrafted rookie Mazza looks to be the new lead man in that department, completing the trio of specialists.
With no major changes from the 2018 team, I still think the Los Angeles Chargers are a playoff team. It is still the Chiefs’ division in my opinion but if they do struggle, look for the Chargers to take advantage of that opportunity.
Rivers is still a top QB and with weapons like Allen, Williams, and Henry, along with a solid offensive line, this will only help him continue to be of the best quarterbacks in the league. Of course, Gordon is a major concern here. He makes a difference when he is on the field and I hope both sides can come to an agreement. For now, Ekeler and Jackson have a lot to prove with Gordon gone.
The defense is still great with Bosa and Ingram forming a great pass-rushing duo. Mebane and Tillery on the inside forms a complete defensive line that’ll give opposing offensive line nightmares. The linebacking core seems a little weak but Perryman is still a solid linebacker. Hayward, Davis, and the multi-positioned King form a nice trio of corners while Adderley and Phillips form a nice starting safety duo for now. Once James comes back from injury, he’ll make the secondary a whole lot better.
After years of regular-season consistency, can Los Angeles finally get over the hump as a Super Bowl team? I think so, but it’ll be tough when you have the Chiefs in your division as well as consistent playoff threat Patriots. Still, it should be another fun season for the Los Angeles Chargers.