AFC Preview: San Diego Chargers

The NFL season is quickly approaching.  It’s time to start preparing for the upcoming year and purchase Steelers tickets.  With the Steelers poised to make a run at the AFC title, we’re breaking down each conference opponent.  Next up is the San Diego, er, Los Angeles Chargers.

You can’t blame longtime, die-hard Bolts fans for not drinking the pre-season, hype-fueled, Kool-Aid again this time. The football gods have fashioned a particularly unique version of hell for the Charger faithful, forcing some fans to take a ‘won’t be fooled again’ stance. And who can blame them?

Several times over the last 10 years, the Chargers have enticed fans with a roster that, arguably, looks like a legitimate contender on paper and they’ve done it again this year. Some will disagree, but others, myself included, believe this team might be the most balanced in the division.

Kay Adams, host of NFL Network’s Good morning Football certainly seems convinced. Adam’s observations mirror those of ESPN’s Mike Clay. Clay wrote this article last month explaining why he thinks the Chargers will surprise this year which inspired another article of similar sentiment, penned by the SDUT’s Brice Miller. Throw in NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger, and his favorable assessment of the team’s prospects for 2017 and the bandwagon’s just about full.

The idea that the Chargers have significantly bolstered their roster in recent years is well supported.  After initially failing to rebuild the O-line left in shambles by the prior regime, GM Tom Telesco may have the pieces in place to field an NFL-caliber unit.  Though he started slowly, the young GM does seem to be on a roll.

Draft picks such as Bosa, Gordon, Brown, Henry, as well as free agents like Mebane, Slauson, Heyward, and others have reinfused this roster with enough talent to get folks attention. As well, overall team depth is much improved at multiple positions.

The new coaching staff, for what it’s worth, seems fixated on fixing what is broken, most notably closing out games, improving special teams and conditioning, and protecting the football better. Of course, the perennial pessimist next door will readily point out the considerable number of x-factors that will need to play out if the Chargers are to vie for a playoff spot, not the least of which being the schedule which is truly brutal, especially the first half.

Whether Anthony Lynn can improve upon the efforts of his predecessors remains to be seen. What is not in question is whether he has enough talent to work with. He does, hence the hype.   This is not a team that should be confused with likes of the Jets, Browns, Rams, or Bears. Few would argue against the point that this team is much better than their 9 wins over the last two seasons would indicate.

The proof is truly in the pudding, though, and no one will be shocked if the Bolts fall short of being competitive again this year. That said, with this roster, it’s hard not to imagine what could be.