Week 2 of the NFL season is here, folks.
I have to take a second to appreciate the moment. The instant a fan’s season ends is just a lousy moment, (unless your team plays its home games in Massachusetts, that is.) For the fans of the remaining 31 franchises though, that moment is an inevitable empty feeling that hits you like a bowling ball to the gut.
Why am I talking about the moment a season ends after the Chargers opened with a victory and the now head to Detroit? Because when I heard that Hunter Henry was going to be out 4-6 weeks, I felt like the Chargers 2019 season took a bigger hit than many people might realize.
I felt like I had been hit in the gut with the earlier mentioned bowling ball. At that moment, after the desire to simultaneously scream and cry had passed, I reflected on the offseason and how I wait for the season to get here and unfold. Here it is, unfolding. I may not like the way it is going, but this is what I’ve been waiting for. I appreciate being “in season” even if frustration is mounting hourly.
Injuries happen everyday in the NFL. This is a violent game. Injuries are bound to happen, and are expected. Henry’s injury, however, could end up being too much for this squad to endure.
As I have been finding my place here at Bolt Beat, I have come to realize that there are already great writers here that cover the statistical side of things. For that reason, I am going to focus on the big picture angle. Keeping that in mind, let me explain why I believe the Chargers season may very well hinge on not only whether they win or lose, but how they win or lose in Detroit.
Like I said last week in another piece, players read and hear the same “chatter” that we do. As a fan of the Chargers, I am always paying attention on those uber rare occasions that the “talking heads” on my TV mention or talk about the Chargers.
We’ve all paid attention during the offseason as many outlets touted the Chargers as a favorite to at least contend for the Super Bowl this year. Suddenly though, in just the second week of the season as I listened and watched, the Chargers were mentioned as much as the Cincinnati Bengals were when discussing championship contenders. (Without doing ANY research on this let me assure the readers that unless you are a fan of, or work for the Bengals PR department – no one is mentioning the Bengals when talking 2019 Super Bowl contenders.)
One can only wonder if the lack of chatter can, or will, have any kind of actual impact on the overall outcome of this season. I tend to think that it could. How it affects a player or team is ultimately up to said player/team.
The question is; will the Chargers rally around the sudden apparent loss of belief in the team by the media? Or will this team absent so many of its best players, shrink in the face of adversity?
The Week 1 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, while sweet, revealed to everyone just how bad the Chargers offensive line was.
Many people were focused on Austin Ekeler‘s breakout performance. What was lost on many was the impact that Henry played in Ekeler’s huge day. Whether deployed as a blocker or as a decoy, Henry’s impact on the field is measured by much more than catches and scores.
Very often when a running back has a good gain, a tight end was in on the block. Not all tight ends are good blockers. Henry though is a good blocker and I fear that his impact will be felt when the Chargers joke of an offensive line goes up against the Lions’ defensive front this Sunday.
Expect the running game to struggle this week. The word is out on Ekeler. I expect Lions head coach, Matt Patricia, to have his defense keyed in on how the Chargers block for Ekeler and they will want, and have a plan in place, to slow him down early before he gets in a groove.
Virgil Green is a very good blocker and should fill in amply for Henry in that regard as the starter. The Chargers, however, will suffer a huge drop off when using two tight end sets, or when resting Green during the game.
None of the other tight ends on the Chargers roster offer the pedigree or ability of Green/Henry in either the passing game or as a blocker.
In theory, this should bode well for the wide receiver corps, but with the uncertainty around Mike Williams after he was hit hard in the win over the Colts, it may just hint at a very long day for the Chargers offense.
More from Bolt Beat
- LA Chargers: 3 early takeaways from 2021 minicamp thus far
- LA Chargers: Drue Tranquill takes a jab at Gus Bradley’s defense
- LA Chargers second-year players: Nothing to lose and a lot to gain
- LA Chargers: Why running back could be a big issue for the Bolts
- LA Chargers: Chris Rumph’s upside is Melvin Ingram-like, but better
Hopefully, the Chargers go into Detroit and come out of there with the “W”. Maybe the offense gets rolling early, Keenan Allen goes off, gets a score, and the dominoes continue to fall. That would be nice.
What if the wheels fall off, though? What if the Chargers get absolutely hammered by Detroit? Will head coach Anthony Lynn be able to rally the team? Will he be able to get them to continue to believe that they can win it all this season with so many of their best players “not in attendance”?
History says that coach Lynn is great at keeping his team focused. Will Henry’s injury and absence inevitably prove to be a tipping point? The players know who the stars are. They know that there is an apparent lack of the supposed talent this team was rumored to boast. Eventually, even the players begin to lose faith.
No one doubts that under Lynn that this team will come prepared to play. The players that take the field will be well-coached on their opponent and they will be ready to battle. Will they believe they can win?
With so many players in the training room on Sunday and moving forward, the Chargers season may very well come down to the remaining players’ belief that they can win. A big win in Detroit could go a long way toward building that belief. However, a defeat or narrow victory could spell doom for a season many expected to be Super.
My pick, Chargers 27 Lions 20