There is no team in the NFL that has dealt with the kinds of injuries the Los Angeles Chargers have over the last couple of years.
Though the team has made plenty of errors to blow away games and some bad coaching has plagued the team, injuries are the primary reason this team has struggled in recent years.
Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon and Jason Verrett were just some of the players who spent time on injured reserve last season. The team can’t afford to lose players of that caliber if they are going to contend in a tough division.
That’s why when Denzel Perryman left the preseason opener on Sunday night in the first quarter and was later seen on the sidelines using crutches, Chargers fans could only shake their heads. It’s absolutely unbelievable for one team to be stricken with all of these injuries.
With that thought in mind, the writers here at Bolt Beat joined together for a discussion this week on injuries to this team. Here is this week’s question.
The Los Angeles Chargers have suffered an incredible amount of devastating injuries over the last couple of seasons, including Denzel Perryman in the preseason opener. Outside of QB Philip Rivers, who is the one player the team can’t afford to lose this year?
Kade Dohmen: “Considering the top-heavy depth the Chargers have at multiple positions, this is a tough question. Antonio Gates has Hunter Henry, Keenan Allen has Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin, Joey Bosa has Melvin Ingram, Casey Hayward has Jason Verrett. Melvin Gordon doesn’t have a Pro Bowl-level replacement like these guys. None of the linebackers, offensive line, or safeties have proven themselves enough to be indispensable. This is why I’m going to go with Joey Bosa. He is a DPOY candidate and a once-in-a-generation talent. He commands double teams, which makes Ingram, Mebane and the rest of the defense able to excel, even if they aren’t the most talented players. Any dent on offense can almost be covered with depth and Philip making everyone better. Casey Hayward is a close second for me, but if Jason Verrett comes back to full health, I’m not sure he’s even the most talented corner. That’s why I give a narrow edge to Bosa.”
Alexander Insdorf: “I’d have to say Jason Verrett and the secondary in general. While Casey Hayward is a great shutdown corner by himself, I feel that the secondary started to fall apart last year following Jason Verrett being put on IR early in the season, followed by former teammate Brandon Flowers later on. While the Chargers ultimately weren’t terrible on the defensive end, the secondary positions feel very thin this year. If Verrett and Hayward can stay healthy, I think the Chargers defense has a chance to be one of the best in the league. If not, I fear that the second and third-stringers I’ve seen in preseason and training camp will not be able to get the job done against some of the league’s better receiving talent.”
Tyler Schoon: “For me, it’s Melvin Gordon. Assuming we have the same RB group moving forward, there’s no one behind him that could lead the Chargers rushing attack quite like #28. For every Keenan Allen or Antonio Gates, there’s a Tyrell Williams or Hunter Henry. Aside from Rivers, Gordon is the most irreplaceable player on the current roster. And considering the AFC West teams are weak against the run, it’s imperative the Chargers have a strong ground game moving forward.”
Scott Iger: “To be completely honest, I hope that answering this doesn’t jinx the team (*knock on wood*). Regardless, the player other than Philip Rivers that the Chargers could not afford to lose this year in my opinion is Melvin Gordon. Gordon was integral in the successes that the Chargers had last season, and after he went down, the Chargers lost all of their remaining games. Although we have more options than last season to replace Gordon if that were to happen, such as the returning Branden Oliver, the impact that Gordon has on our team is evident, and to be completely honest, I do not believe the team can be successful next season without him.”
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Matthew Pagels: “It has to be Chargers DE Joey Bosa. Without him, you’re taking away more than half of the team’s total pressures. He’s a beast who helped turn the Chargers’ defense around the second he stepped onto the field (I mean, he led the team with 10.5 sacks in only 12 games played). If I were to go in another direction, I’d say LT Russell Okung. I understand that this is his first year as a Charger, but if he gets hurt, there is NOBODY behind him that can fill in at left tackle. Philip Rivers will be running for his life.”
Travis Wakeman: “I’m going to agree with it being Joey Bosa. Aside from Rivers, he is the next best player on the team and while the argument concerning the value of Gordon is a good one, the defense would just be way too flat without what Bosa brings to the table. I think I’d rather take my chances with my running game featuring Branden Oliver that my pass rush featuring whichever player the team attempted to replace Bosa with. Jeremiah Attaochu? Darius Philon? It would be a massive drop-off.”