If youre a Los Angeles Chargers fan, you have to wonder how your team could be so decent year after year and yet so consistently fall short when they do get to the playoffs, especially given that they have a Hall-of-Fame caliber quarterback like Philip Rivers.
Still in possession of all their draft picks and a decent amount of cap space, the Chargers must use the upcoming NFL draft and free agency to bring aboard whatever missing links they feel they will need to finally go the distance.
Here we take a look at the 2019 Los Angeles Chargers, their offseason moves, draft picks and the odds and predictions of how theyll do next season fielding basically the same team (plus some youngsters) that came up slightly short in 2018.
When an NFL team goes 12-4 like the 2018 Los Angeles Chargers did, you expect them at the very least to win their division and possibly even get playoff home field advantage.
Instead, the Chargers became the fifth AFC playoff seed, played away and ended up losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots in the Divisional Round 28-41.
After a 1-2 start to their season, Los Angeles went on an impressive 11-2 run, but during that streak they only played three teams who would eventually make it to the playoffs and only beat two of them (Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs).
The short answer is no, but the longer answer involves Rivers statistics, including his total passing yards (54,656), which ranks him 8th against all other NFL quarterbacks in the history of the league.
Last season, Rivers was also ranked 8th among NFL quarterbacks having thrown for 4,308 yards and 32 touchdowns (T-6th), though he did tie for 9th most interceptions with 12.
In his 2018 postseason, Rivers averaged 245 yards per game and threw for 3 touchdowns with an interception averaging 5.9 yards per completion.
Most NFL franchise would kill for that kind of output from their quarterback, but for some reason in Los Angeles at the Chargers camp, those stats havent translated into a Lombardi Trophy, which would seal Rivers first ballot entry into the Hall of Fame someday.
Despite their winning record and fairly successful postseason appearance, the Chargers finished last in the NFL in attendance in 2018, mostly due to the small stadium they are temporarily housed in until 2020 (see below).
Also, the Chargers have to compete in a sports-heavy market dominated by the NBAs Lakers and Clippers, the MLBs Dodgers and Angels and their NFC counterpart the L.A. Rams.
Thats only an excuse to a certain extent, however, seeing as how the Rams 2018 attendance was the 10th highest in the NFL, over double what the Chargers were able to attract.
Since the 2017 season, the L.A. Chargers have used Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly the Home Depot Center and StubHub Center) as their home stadium, but it only has seating for 27,000 fans, which explains their last place in attendance last season (see above).
In 2020, the Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park will open and the Chargers and the Rams will share it as their home field.
The L.A. Stadium will hold 80,240 fans at a time, and that will be expandable to 100,240 for major events such as Super Bowls and FIFA World Cups.
For the most part, the Chargers strategy worked last season and it looks like theyre employing the same approach this year play it cool during free agency and snag as much young talent as possible in the upcoming draft.
General manager Tom Telseco and his front office have a good eye for talent, as evidenced by their last four first-round picks running back Melvin Gordon, defensive end Joey Bosa, wide receiver Mike Williams and strong safety Derwin James.
The key will be if Telseco can find enough talent to add depth to a defense ranked ninth overall last season, yet a squad that allowed the Patriots to score 41 points in the Chargers defeat during last seasons Divisional Playoff round.
Wide receiver Tyrell Williams, who signed a four-year, $44 million contract with the Oakland Raiders that includes $22 million guaranteed.
Defensive tackle Darius Philon, who signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals that includes $5 million guaranteed.
Cornerback Jason Verrett, who signed a one-year, $3.6 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers that includes $1 million guaranteed.
Linebacker Thomas Davis, who signed a two-year, $10.5 million contract with a total of $5.25 million guaranteed.
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who signed a two-year, $11 million deal with a total of $6 million guaranteed.
Interior offensive line, offensive tackle, quarterback, tight end, wide receiver
Interior defensive line, linebacker, cornerback, safety
The Chargers have 7 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, and they are:
Over the last decade, the Los Angeles Chargers have gone to the postseason three times, including in 2018 when they lost to the Patriots in the Divisional Playoffs.
The other times include 2013, when they lost to the Denver Broncos in the Divisional Playoffs 17-24 and 2009, when they lost the Divisional Playoffs to the New York Jets, 14-17.
The Chargers have been to the postseason a total of fourteen times, but the one time they went to the Super Bowl in 1994 when they were based in San Diego, they lost to the San Francisco 49ers 26-49.
The L.A. Chargers own all seven of their 2019 draft picks and they currently have $18 million in cap space this offseason, so first off expect them to add depth to their roster using the draft and then free agency if need be.
The Chargers are predicted to lose the AFC West to the Kansas City Chiefs again, so it will be up to them to have a good enough win/loss record to score a wildcard spot like they did in 2018.
For L.A. to make it all the way to the Big Game, though, theyve got to figure out how to get past the Divisional Playoff Round that has kept them from taking a stab at the AFC Playoffs nine times, something that needs to happen soon if the aging Rivers (37) is to be a part of the overall plan.
According to the odds makers, the 2019-20 Los Angeles Chargers are going to have to earn their way to the postseason once again.
Four other teams supposedly have a better chance at winning the AFC Championship next season, and six other teams are positioned better than L.A. to win the Super Bowl.
Its a fairly safe bet that the Chargers will once again make it to the playoffs, but whether they can finally close the deal past the Divisional Round is something that a decent draft class and a few more free agents will help determine.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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