LA Chargers News

Los Angeles Chargers can take lessons from 2018 season

By John Wozniak
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 13: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Brandon Mebane #92 of the Los Angeles Chargers following the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 13: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots shakes hands with Brandon Mebane #92 of the Los Angeles Chargers following the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 13, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Chargers were torn apart by the New England Patriots, but in order to move forward, they must look back and beyond.

The football season is over for 28 teams, who each turn their attention to the 2019 draft. A 12-4 record will be difficult to repeat for the Chargers, especially considering how competitive the AFC West division is shaping up to be. The Chargers must learn from 2018, that’s the bottom line.

The wounds are still healing after a beat down in New England, and Melvin Ingram gave his thoughts on 2018 and the road ahead.

Melvin Ingram on what his team accomplished this year: "We haven't accomplished s***. We didn't win the Super Bowl, we didn't accomplish nothing. We've got a long way to go. Offseason we got to work hard, OTAs camp and get back to it. We haven't accomplished nothing though."

— Eric Williams (@eric_d_williams) January 13, 2019

So what now for the Chargers?

Roster Changes

Tom Telesco has several decisions to make. In 2018 the Chargers spent 52.11% of their salary cap on the offense, the fourth highest in the league. That’s a concern when you consider that the Bolts’ offense was ranked 15th in rushing and 11th in passing. The running game is an area that requires attention. In the absence of Melvin Gordon the Chargers struggled to move the chains on the ground.

Brandon Mebane, Tyrell Williams, Jason Verrett and Adrian Phillips are among the 2019 free agents. Williams made some big plays, Spotrac calculates his market value at $29.9 million over a three-year period. He is likely to receive lots of attention from around the league.

@spotrac Calculates Tyrell Williams’s market value at $28.9m over three years.

Williams finished 41/65 for 653 yards and 5 TDs.

— John Woz Jr. (@EndZone85) January 15, 2019

Phillips had a productive season, he was one of three Chargers players to post over 90 combined tackles on the season. Mebane, a 12-year pro and Super Bowl winner completed his 3-year $13.5 million deal. No.92 has been an important leader in the locker room and on the field. Will he return in 2019? Isaac Rochelle posted 13.1 percent of all sacks by the Chargers. The 23-year-old pass rusher is an exclusive rights free agent.

Telesco looks set to stick with the current coaching staff. Anthony Lynn has set a higher standard of Chargers football for almost a decade, but winning records are futile without progression.

The Chargers had the best record of the two AFC teams that lost in this weekend’s divisional round. That means their staff gets the “honor” of coaching the AFC in the Pro Bowl. Lynn confirmed to reporters Monday that he and his staff will handle those duties according to protalkfootball.com

Learning from the past

The Jacksonville Jaguars played for nine seasons without a winning record, and in 2017 they were one of the surprise packages of the league. Their defense, led by Calais Campbell posted 14.5 of  Jacksonville’s 55 total sacks.

Todd Wash’s unit shutout the Indianapolis Colts and held the opposition to nine points or fewer in seven other games. A 10-6 record took them to the playoffs, where they defeated the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers, before eventually falling to the Patriots.

A fast start took Doug Marrone‘s team to 3-1 in 2018, but the season ended in total disappointment. The Jaguars finished with a 5-11 record. The defense could not replicate the numbers of 2017. The Jaguars’ contrasting seasons of 2017 and 2018 is a great example of where a team can regress.

Draft picks

Draft picks are always contentious. Put yourself in Telesco’s shoes, who would you draft? Philip Rivers has served the Chargers well. Is this the year to draft a new quarterback and allow him to develop under No.17, the coach on the field?

Oklahoma Sooners quarterback and the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray recently declared himself for the 2019 draft.

I have declared for the NFL Draft.

— Kyler Murray (@TheKylerMurray) January 14, 2019

Read the umpteen articles on Murray and there are contrasting views as to where the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year will land. John Mitchell, writing for SaturdayBlitz.com, suggests Murray could be a fit for the Chargers.

More from Bolt Beat

The Oakland A‘s have an agreement with Murray. His NFL destination will depend on a general manager’s appetite for an athletic quarterback who is under 6-feet tall.

Interestingly, this mock draft lines Jerry Tillery up for the Chargers. Tillery, out of Notre Dame, posted eight sacks in 2018. There’s no doubt that general managers will speak to Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly about the lineman’s attributes.

The Chargers must learn if they are to overcome the wall that is the divisional round. It’s now up to Telesco to engineer a pathway to success. Telesco was spot on with his first draft pick of 2018, Derwin James made a real impact in his rookie season. 2019 could be an interesting year for the  Chargers.

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