For over 12 years, Los Angeles Chargers fans have relied on the play of Philip Rivers due to his unquestionable leadership and his ability to make the players around him great. Unfortunately at 35, Rivers’ time is running out and maybe it is time to start re-designing the offense around veteran running back Melvin Gordon in the middle of his prime.
The offseason For Los Angeles has been rather quiet, only signing kicker Caleb Sturgis and former Denver Broncos tight end Virgil Green. At the time I’m writing this, they have only spoken to three time Pro-Bowl lineman Mike Pouncey and the team really hasn’t shown interest in any big-name free agents other than him.
For most, this is a bit of a head scratch, maybe even a tad bit alarming as it seems like just about every team is making big splashes in a certainly memorable offseason. Some can argue the reason for this is that the team is simply near complete and are planning on finding all their missing pieces in the draft, others might be hitting the panic button and look to blame the front office for once again making questionable moves to keep from spending a lot of money.
I believe the answer lies beyond the draft and this year’s free agency but within the team itself. I believe that the team is still in a rebuild mode and are slowly attempting to once again build a franchise as intimidating as the LT era San Diego Chargers in 2007. This is why I believe the team will forgo drafting Rivers’ replacement in the first round and simply either develop Cardale Jones or look for a diamond in the rough late in the draft.
With Denver as an example, transitioning between quarterbacks can be a really tough process and can often lead to an implode of the offense. Los Angeles will want to avoid simply placing a young quarterback at the helm but will instead slowly start transitioning the offense around someone who has been a big part of the offense for the past three years.
Entering his fourth year, Gordon has come a long way from his disappointing rookie year and is quickly becoming a huge part of the run and pass game (12 total touchdowns scored, second on the team in receptions in 2017). A move like this would make sense as head coach Anthony Lynn came into Los Angeles with a goal of getting the 25-year old as many touches as he can. Having a Hall of Famer at quarterback might force Gordon to carry the ball a little bit less but he might not have to worry about that much longer as the team starts preparing for a life without 17 behind center.
This may put a damper on die-hard fans, but it is one of the best possible outcomes for the offense moving forward. It also does the least amount of damage to the team who are favorites to take the AFC West in the 2018 season.
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Signing players like Green, who is a well known run-blocker and the possible signing of Pouncey, who has long been one of the leagues best run blockers, a lot of signs are pointing toward a run- heavy offense in the near future as well as the fact the team hasn’t really expressed interest in the talented rookie quarterbacks but have all signs pointing toward filling the hole in their defense that can make their defense one of the best in 2018.
Although forgoing a quarterback in the first round of arguably one of the best quarterback classes since the star studded 2004 draft (Rivers, Roethlisberger, Manning all drafted in 2004) may leave a bad taste in the mouths of some fans, it simply means Tom Telesco and the rest of the front office have something up their sleeve for the future of the franchise. With the year Rivers had, it might be worth the risk and the team can possibly go one more year without having to worry about a quarterback before finding the next guy.