The 2021 LA Chargers season kickoff is right around the corner, and the Bolts will have their hands full in Week 1 with the reigning NFC Least champion Washington..........Football Team and their vaunted defensive front.
It's a tough matchup for the Bolts in their 2021 debut, but what can we expect to see out of this Washington team when rubber meets the turf?
Here's the thing about Washington this year- now everybody knows they're here. Some may even say "the jig is up." There's no question to any of us that this Washington team has one of, if not the best defense in football- certainly as it pertains to their pass rush led by Chase Young.
Young, along with Montez Sweat, Da'Ron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle coming off the bench give the future "Red Hogs" a lethal and deep cache of pass rushers that could be able to carry this team to consecutive NFC East crowns- something that hasn't been accomplished in the division since the Eagles did it in the Donovan McNabb days.
But I've got a serious problem with this team that is glaring to me.
It can immediately benefit the LA Chargers in this Week 1 matchup.
The Washington Football Team has a big problem at their most important position of quarterback in their number one guy being Ryan Fitzpatrick.
I know, I know, it's "Fitzmagic" and he's got the big beard and he's charismatic and did you also know he went to Harvard? I wasn't sure if you've heard he did or not throughout the 900 times we've been told he went there. But one thing has always been consistent with the guy who's personally defined the term "journeyman"- once he gets expectations, he reminds you of why he's been on 9 NFL teams because he turns into a pick machine.
Now, Fitz is riding the momentum from last season in Miami where he was the closer for Tua Tagovailoa down the stretch and he's going to be looked at to carry another team this year in Washington. Even more now because of what he showed last season.
Washington has some nice weapons in Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, Adam Humphries, Antonio Gibson, and Logan Thomas, but this year you're going to see the stark difference between inconsistency with flashes of unexplained brilliance in Fitzpatrick and consistency with a solid floor and lower ceiling in Alex Smith.
Consistency matters. It's why Smith has been a better quarterback than Fitz in the NFL, and it's why Washington is in some trouble this year now that they have to lean on a guy who's a step down from last year's starter.
But concerning the Bolts' chances in Week 1, even though Washington's got a top-tier defense that hasn't seemed to dip at all in the carryover from 2020 to this season, I'd have to say between the Chargers' and Washington's offense and defense (4 units), I'd go with Washington's offense as the weakest of those four with Fitzpatrick at the helm.
Washington's corners I don't really love that much either. Kendall Fuller had 4 picks last year, but he's bounced between Washington and Kansas City 13 times already and the Bengals (a rebuilding team) called it quits on William Jackson III. This Washington secondary was second-best last year in PYPG allowed, but it's a new era for the organization with Quinton Dunbar, Bashaud Breeland, Fabian Moreau, and Josh Norman all gone.
Maybe they're stronger this year than ever before, but I think for a Week 1 matchup with two corners who have not seen real game action together yet, the iron could be hot for Justin Herbert to strike.
And finally, the strength of Washington is their pass rush, but I have to say I don't mind the Bolts' new offensive line with Corey Linsley, Oday Aboushi, Matt Feiler, and Rashawn Slater now on the front. They obviously have some meshing to do together too, but could they possibly slow down Chase Young and all those pass rushers?
It's certainly possible. You've got incredible route runners like Keenan Allen who Herbert can get the ball to quickly in the middle of the field and I'm officially a believer in Austin Ekeler's ability to carry the run game after much consideration, so the Bolts have themselves some avenues to avoid the Washington pass-rushing strength if they can execute.
I don't really know what the low-down is around Chargers circles as it pertains to people's feelings about their chances against Washington, but my opinion on the matter is that I'm sort of feeling like they've got a real good chance to start the year 1-0.
More on this opening game from me in the coming week.