These Los Angeles Chargers are very good. Perhaps if they had gotten the first seed, they had Super Bowl potential.
In the end, it was not meant to be, and the Chargers were sent home in the divisional round.
This team has many pieces, but the New England Patriots exposed exactly what roster spots need to be improved. Tom Telesco needs to address these positions in the draft or free agency to have a shot at the Super Bowl next year.
The Patriots brought consistent blitzes that overwhelmed the offensive line. The line is supposed to respond by prioritizing stopping interior rushers and allowing exterior rushers to go, as they will take more time to get to the quarterback.
Instead, Patriots rushers seemed to penetrate every gap and move back the blockers when they did engage with the rushers. There is no way that any amount of blitzing should result in pressure so frequently. This is what makes players lose jobs, as may be the case this offseason.
The Patriots pressure on Philip Rivers has been the key to the first half. No QB has faced a higher rate of pressure than Rivers in a game this season (71%).
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) January 13, 2019
Two positions to target for an upgrade are at right tackle and left guard. The guard solution may be hidden on the roster in Forrest Lamp, but an upgrade is needed for Sam Tevi, and an eventual replacement for Russell Okung could also be found.
While seven defensive backs worked against speed, it does not work against power. The Chargers learned that hard lesson against the Patriots and Sony Michel.
While some of this issue will be solved with health, the Chargers need some larger linebackers like Denzel Perryman to stop the power running game. While Jatavis Brown and Kyzir White especially have shown potential, they are undersized for the middle linebacker position.
This is a particularly large issue since Telesco will face a decision on Perryman, who is talented but very injury prone. If the Chargers lose Perryman, they will have no starting caliber middle linebacker that is stout enough to hold up against the run. This needs to be a priority in the offseason.
Coming into the season, this certainly did not seem like an issue. With Casey Hayward at one corner spot, Jason Verrett at the other, Desmond King in the slot, and Trevor Williams as depth, the cornerback room looked fantastic.
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Fast forward to now, and things look far more shaky. Hayward has had a decent (down for his standards) year and King has been great. However, you need at least three good corners, if not four, in this passing league.
Unfortunately, Verrett is unlikely to get another chance in L.A, and he may need to move on from football. Williams was benched before going down on injured reserve and Michael Davis should not be starting on a playoff team. This is not the most pressing need, but a quick fix could potentially be found in free agency with a solid No.2 option in need.
While this season is over, fortunately, all is not lost for this group of players. While many people have wondered if this is Philip Rivers’ last chance, it certainly seems like he is not near calling it quits.
“A lot of good this year, I think as the dust settles you can appreciate more of that. Certainly a disappointing finish. But you get up and start again.” – Philip Rivers
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) January 13, 2019
Like the already eliminated 28 other teams, we wait another year for more roster improvements to come. Unlike many of those 28 teams, the Chargers have a hall of fame quarterback, an up and coming coach, and a sneaky-good general manager. Time to re-load and make a new run for the Lombardi.