A sign of a good general manager is improvement at positions of need from year to year. Unfortunately, many of the needs in the 2019 offseason are the same ones the Chargers have this offseason.
In 2019, the Los Angeles Chargers took a clear step back as a whole; unfortunately, a lack of improvement in areas of need prior to the season was a big part of that regression.
In theory, a team’s general manager should prioritize positions with low quality of play for improvement in the offseason. Improvement at those positions, obviously, should be the result.
This is particularly true when the general manager’s team was a playoff team with few holes on the roster to be addressed (which was the case for the Chargers’ 2019 offseason).
The positional needs from the 2019 offseason are listed below (and discussed in this article from last year). At most of these positions, an improvement was clearly lacking in 2019.
Chargers 2019 Offseason Priority No. 1: Offensive Line
2019 Offseason solution: Drafted Trey Pipkins
After Philip Rivers faced pressure at an incredibly high rate against the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the 2018-2019 playoffs, it was clear that the offensive line should be at the top of the team’s priority list in the offseason.
So what did Tom Telesco do to solve the problems on the offensive line? He drafted developmental tackle Trey Pipkins in the third round of the 2019 draft and hoped for the best.
In some respects, this approach seemed at least somewhat reasonable coming into the season. While there was an immediate need at right tackle that was not addressed, the return of Forrest Lamp was predicted by many to bring stability to the interior of the offensive line.
Instead, the quality of the offensive line as a whole was even worse in 2019 than in 2018. Russell Okung, Forrest Lamp, Mike Pouncey, and Sam Tevi all missed significant time with injuries, and the resulting mess of an offensive line resulted in a unit that Pro Football Focus ranked as the 29th-best unit in the NFL (or fourth-worst).
Hopefully, Telesco learned a lesson from his choice to neglect the need in 2019, and he will address it better in 2020.