The Los Angeles Chargers have a new city, a new head coach, but what they don’t have is a new culture. The Chargers have picked up this season where they left off, starting 0-3 despite being competitive. It’s been four seasons now since we’ve seen Philip Rivers and company in the postseason, and it’s fair to ask, will he ever make it back?
So close, yet so far
Since their last playoff appearance in 2013, the Chargers have 33 regular season losses, and of those 33, 20 have come by seven points or less. In 2017, the Chargers tacked on two such losses after falling 24-21 to Denver in their prime-time opener, and then again in Week 2, losing to Miami 19-17 in their home opener. There was a hopeful feeling after the loss to the Broncos, because it was in a comeback effort in which the team did show a lot of resiliency. But that hope disappeared after the Chargers allowed Dolphins into the StubHub Center and lost a fourth-quarter lead to Jay Cutler.
The biggest difference between the Chargers now and the Chargers of the past is the that they lack an identity. There is no standout unit in Los Angeles that they can hang their hat on. The offensive line is subpar, the running game with Melvin Gordon has averaged a meager 70.7 yards per game, the defense has only generated two takeaways and 4.0 sacks, even Rivers has struggled, averaging just 245 through the air and throwing four interceptions so far, which is second only to Cleveland. So when the time comes to make a play in Los Angeles, who is going to make that play? Even if Philip Rivers is on his game, he’s throwing to a bottom-half receiving core. The Chargers need an identity.
Is there a quick fix?
The toughest part of the situation the Chargers find themselves in is that they are in the AFC West. Move them to really any other division and they are roughly .500 these last few seasons, and maybe even sneaking into the playoffs once or twice. But they’re not, they are in the best division in football, looking right at six losses to start off every year. That would demoralize anyone.
That being said, the best way to compete in this division would be improving the offensive line, which won’t happen this year. With players like Khalil Mack in Oakland, Von Miller in Denver and Justin Houston in Kansas City, you need an offensive line that can mix it up with the best of them. The Chargers took a step in the right direction drafting G Forrest Lamp in the second round but unfortunately he suffered a torn ACL in training camp. It looks as if the Chargers’ fans are in for at least one more season of disappointment.
Philip Rivers is by no means the problem and I love how he plays the game, but a quarterback will always be associated with the fate of his team, and perhaps a new face will help rejuvenate the franchise. Other than fixing the offensive line in the offseason, the draft will provide some great, young quarterbacks that could become franchise players. This season will be a wash, but could put the Chargers in position to grab a quarterback for the future.
The Chargers have some good players, but could be improved almost everywhere. The receiving corps, the linebackers, even the quarterback could be upgraded, but the issue that needs the most work is the offensive line, and for the sake of Chargers’ fans everywhere, I hope they get it done.
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